Dog with Separation Anxiety

Parent Q&A

  • How to Handle Dog with Separation Anxiety?

    (7 replies)

    About 2 years ago, a family member who was terminally ill asked whether we would take her Tibetan Terrier.  I agreed on the rationale that we’d either keep him ourselves or find a good home for him.  The TT turned out to be everything she said he was: perfect medium size, beyond-adorable with his moppy black and white hair, loyal, good with kids, friendly to other dogs, smart, sweet and devoted.  However, he also turned out to have an extreme case of separation anxiety to the point that he is destructive when left alone, even for a short time.  We have tried everything from hiring a specialized trainer, putting him in a thundershirt, giving him anti-anxiety medication before we leave, using pheromones to calm him, etc.  Nothing has done much good and we have found ourselves slowly changing our lives to accommodate him—essentially not going anywhere that we can’t take him.  We are really at a crossroads:  we love him and want the best for him, but are becoming increasingly more resentful at not being able to do any of the things we should be able to do at this stage in our lives, things as simple as going to dinner and the movies.  We crate him when we leave in order to keep him and the house safe, but the long process of getting him into the crate, and his clear distress while we are gone, is making even that untenable.  I’m horribly conflicted about what to do.  I would love to find a good home for him, but that would likely entail someone homebound or who doesn’t go out much, or someone with the skills and patience to devote to a long term behavioral transformation program.  Is it even possible to find someone like that?   We love our little guy, and he adores us, but we also feel so burdened by him.  Help!     

    We have had a similar situation with our 10 year old Shepherd/Lab mix. Her separation anxiety became apparent after several moves, including one cross country. We tried a lot of the same things you did, including lots of behavioral therapy (my wife is a behavioral analyst). We also worked a lot to identify if there were other triggers. For her, beeping sounds would set off a panic attack, especially when we were gone. Perhaps you've already tried it, but the only medication we've had success with is Trazodone. Relatively large doses during acute stress helped a lot and maintenance doses everyday allowed us to leave the house. Decisions about what to do can be excruciating... best of luck.

    Hi--sorry about the dog and wow, you've tried many things, so he's fortunate to be with you.

          Have you looked online at youtube instructibles?  I like Zak George's approach--it's positive rather than what some advocate.  Here's one on the anxiety you're confronted with   

         Also there's "Sandi" of Bravo Pup, a local training facility   she offers private training, one on one. 

    AND last, but not least, are you exercising the dog?  Exercise is a great calming approach.

       Good luck. 

    Get another dog! It sounds counter-intuitive but it will really with these issues. I'd be looking for a 4-6 year old female from a shelter. Make sure that the dogs meet and get along before you commit to bringing the new dog home. There are so many sweet older dogs in shelters that would love to be a companion to your dog.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Our 2-year-old dog cries incessantly when left alone

Dec 2012

I'm looking for recommendations for a dog trainer that can help our 2- year old shepherd mix with separation anxiety. She cries incessantly when left alone--whether for 1/2 an hour or 4 hours. Currently we crate her but we're starting to second guess whether or not that's the right method for her. I'd like someone that can come to my house in the east bay and work with us to improve the situation. Thanks. Erin Rescue Remedy, made for pets and found in many health stores, works well on a situational level. But this is a chronic situation. I am glad you are thinking about the appropriateness of crating a 2 year old dog for what seems to be up to 4 hours. Crating is a cruel fad, and goes against every instinct of an animal. Yes, some will adapt, people say: some will even say nonsense such as, '' Oh, he likes it in there.'' Habituation and survival do not been happiness. If you look for a trainer, please consider one who can work with you to give your dog as much freedom as possible. Kathy

Hi - If the crating is working for her keep crating her. Dogs feel safe in a crate, so she probably welcomes being in a place that gives her peace. If, on the other hand, she is upset when you leave her in the crate, you can try to train her to look forward to it, but saying ''crate up'' or ''crate time'' and when she enters, give her a treat. When you return you can praise her when you open up the crate (either verbally and/or w/a treat). If you plan to be gone longer than 4 hours and don't want to crate her that long, you may consider getting a companion dog. Our dog didn't have anxiety issues, but we felt bad leaving him behind so we got him a playmate and he is now more comfortable being left alone (not really alone because he has his ''sister''). Dogs are pack animals so they want to be w/their pack (human or otherwise). anon

We also have a dog with major anxiety. Not separation anxiety, but he is afraid of a long list of things (mailman, motorcycles, weed whackers, other dogs while on leash) which can cause him either to hide in the closet or to get agressive. We tried training to combat this, but it seems like his fight or flight brain chemicals can override anything! Finally our vet suggested prozac. The change has been dramatic. The vet said that prozac is commonly used for separation anxiety as well. Good luck! fellow neurotic dog lover

First off, I applaud your willingness to seek expert help for your dog. Canine separation anxiety is complex and requires a commitment to modify not only your dog's behavior, but the behavior of everyone who regularly interacts with your dog. I adopted a one-year old dog who turned out to have severe separation anxiety. Though he required much attention and ongoing maintenance, he was a beloved, happy, well-trained family member who enriched our lives. Unfortunately our trainer is no longer in the area. In addition to working with her, we also consulted with our regular vet and vets at UC Davis Behavior Service who were incredibly helpful. Yes, it's a haul to go to Davis, but our visits were infrequent and the vets provided lots of help via phone and email between visits. I strongly recommend a consultation. You can get more information or make an appointment by calling the UC Davis Small Animal Clinic (530) 752-1393. In a nutshell the things that helped us manage our dog's separation anxiety were ongoing behavior management and the medication Clomicalm. In my experience the medication made our dog more receptive to training and behavior modification, but the behavioral component was key. Any veterinarian will tell you that medication alone will not solve the problem. Throughout our dog's life, we were never able to leave him out of his crate when we were not home. Not only would he have destroyed everything in his path, he could have seriously injured himself. Dogs with separation anxiety truly panic when they are alone and have been known to crash through doors or windows. The crate keeps them safe. Our dog was extremely food-motivated, so we only fed him when we were not home, by leaving Kongs stuffed with soaked and frozen dog food in his crate. We carefully planned his meals according to our daily schedule and used dog walkers if we would be gone longer than 5-6 hours. If we had to travel without him we used dog walkers during the day and a pet sitter to stay home with him at night so he could be out of his crate. Another important thing was to give him at least 3 long walks/day, plus short, fun obedience sessions to tire him physically and mentally. If he was tired he had less energy to be anxious. Lastly, we educated everyone in our family and our regular dog walkers/sitters about separation anxiety. It is crucial not to make a big deal of your arrivals and departures from home, ie: no running to the dog right away and lavishing attention on him as soon as you get home. Best of luck to you and your dog. rongeur

This woman is excellent: Stacey Brewer, CPDT-KA Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed Class Instructor, BRAVO!PUP Puppy & Dog Training CELL: (510) 502-3702 stace [at] KM

I can highly recommend something that may help your dog feel more secure, something that changed the life of a very anxious dog of mine. It's called D.A.P., which stands for dog appeasing pheromone, and it's a dispenser that emits the calming pheromone that the mother dog gives off when nursing her pups. I know it sounds like snake oil, but I can only say that my dog slowly and steadily changed from being a nervous wreck to being happy and well-adjusted. They sell it at PetVet (in Oakland and El Cerrito). Good luck with your pup! Cece

We had NO IDEA what separation anxiety really looked like until we brought our pitbull home from the Oakland SPCA. She was (back then) about two years old, 40+ pounds, and barely house-trained. Her separation anxiety was astonishing. I'd cross the street to talk to a neighbor and she'd lose it, barking and clawing at the windowsill, sometimes piddling and destroying things. She'd carry on for a long time (30 minutes) if I slipped out of view. I almost took her back to the animal shelter after 2 weeks of living with the ''poop tornado'' and busted windowsills. After I watched her more closely, I figured out she was hyper-sensitive to sounds, lights, sudden movement, etc. I did a few things differently: I made our home a quiet refuge of love and consistent discipline. (Thank you, BadRap.) I took her on LONG walks to places where there were buses and trucks, kids playing and screaming, etc. and we just sat there until she was calm. It was an exercise in filtering out perceived threats from real ones, and I think she took her cues from my reaction to things. We did this many, many times. I would leave the house alone, walk to the corner, and come back; then I would drive around the block in the car and come back, etc. *I always came back.* We also put view-obscuring window film on the windows to block activity on the sidewalk, plus put her on some friggin' expensive dog kibble. We crate her at night, while her brother (a better-behaved black lab) has the run of the house. Her crate is in a quiet part of the house. We treat both of them to a nightly kibble-filled kong, and she rushes to her crate after we yell, ''Santa's coming, you better get in bed!'' Works every time. She rarely wakes up before 11 am the next day although I open the door around 9 am. She's a great dog. Not terribly trustworthy off-leash, and doesn't know how strong she is, and a bit of an idiot overall, but a sweet 60-pound lap dog with bad breath. She wants to please - most of the time. Our black lab is only marginally brighter but he's a different animal altogether. My suggestion: Work with a trainer and practice, practice, practice. Watch your dog closely and try to figure out what the triggers are, and then ask yourself what you would change if a friend had these issues. And long walks and lots of exercise. Good luck! Our dog was worth it. Tisa

9-year-old beagle tears up our apartment when we leave

Nov 2009

1.5 years ago we adopted a very sweet female beagle who is now about 9 years old. We soon realized she has separation anxiety after she tore up our apartment when we left her. We spent a lot of time on training her to be ok alone, and now we can leave her in her crate with a kong for at least a few hours and she's ok (though she barks her head off when we get back). I often just take her with me and leave her in the car because I feel guilty, although that takes a lot of effort since we have a baby now... Through a combination of circumstances, she has not had to be alone for long stretches for several months. However, my husband and I will both be working full-time come January, when my maternity leave is over, and I am dreading having to leave our dog in the crate all day while we are at work. We would get a dog walker to come in the middle of the day, but even with that she would have to be in her crate around 8 hours/day total. Is there any hope of ''curing'' her enough that we can leave her out in the apartment during the day, or should I just not feel guilty about leaving her in her crate? Should I involve a trainer? or consider medication? Doggie daycare is not an option because of our work schedules and the logistics involved (our daughter will be in daycare), and in any event she is not a big fan of other dogs. She also can't be off-leash, which cuts down on our walking options. It is already going to be hard enough to leave my daughter, and I am looking for any advice on how to avoid guilt over our dear little beagle as well! Want the dog to be ok

I was going to suggest dogie day care. Maybe you need to hire a dog walker to pick your doggie up, take it to doggie day care, and then bring him/her home at night. OR....maybe you could hire someone who would like a daytime dog, but not overnights....OR....a dog walker who would come a few times during the day... Talk to different dog sitters and to different trainers. Whether or not your dog minds staying alone, no dog should be left alone for 9-10 hours all day every day. Maybe it would be best for your dog to find a new home with someone who is retired and around all the time. my two cents.

I had issues w/ my dog barking. I got a dog walker who would take the dog to open space w/ 5 or 6 other dogs on 3-4 roundtrip runs. This helped a bunch, even on the off days since the dog was resting. This could definitely help. Also, I now have a nanny for childcare and I think it helps w/ my dog situation as well. So, you might consider a nanny share or something along those lines in your home. Lastly, I'm guessing you've already tried this but stuffing food in kongs then freezing them or other special slow feeding devices helps w/ boredom. - My Dog Barks

Having rescued a number of dogs with separation anxiety over the years, I can sympathize with your plight. Here are a couple of things to know, and some to try: Dogs are ''den'' creatures; they feel secure when in a confined space. Left to their own devices, they dig holes to hide in, and seek out small dark spaces. Your dog doesn't ''feel'' the same way about her crate as you might. It is her place of refuge, and you can even reinforce this if you feed her in her crate (leaving the door open or closing it.) Most likely her bark when you return is her greeting for you, welcoming the rest of the pack back to the house. Dogs operate on a ''chill or kill'' system; most of the time they lie around resting, conserving energy for when they need to spring into action to hunt (or play). Getting her out during the day for some vigorous exercise in a neutral place (away from your home or neighborhood, where she won't be so territorial) will do her good, for the physical and mental stimulation. Have your dogwalker take her to a field or park, and use a 50-foot leash so she can get used to more freedom of movement. (But use the shorter leash when on sidewalks or around others for better control.) If she's a fetcher, toss the ball for her. Beagles are scent hounds, and she will respond best to a ball that's had something like peanut butter or her favorite flavor smeared over it. (or even toss a smaller Kong ball around for her to go after.) With the new baby, it's easy to lose track of how much attention you are giving to the dog. At 9, she's a Senior, and should be on a senior diet food, lower in fat and calories, with glucosamine added if recommended by her vet, to keep her weight under control. If she expresses extreme anxiety at being crated, try using some Rescue Remedy in her food or water, or rub the drops directly onto the tips of her ears and a drop on the nose. Sometimes I add a few drops onto a biscuit for one of my girls, when we're anticipating fireworks or other things that set her off. Rescue Remedy is an herbal relaxant; it's impossible for dogs to overdose on the tincture, since they generally get sleepy first. Some people add it to their water, but if she is crated, its not great to give her unrestricted access to water while she's crated. Good luck! Doggy Mama

We adopted a lovely older dog 2 years ago. I was home with her for 2 months then got a job and was going to have to leave her all day. I already knew her separation anxiety was bad. She had scratched windows and doors and tore down blinds before. I had to do something before I started work but couldn't afford trainers. So I did what I thought made sense and it worked! It took 3-4 weeks to desensitize her to my leaving the house. I went through the process of leaving over and over - 10 to 20 times a day. I would put on shoes, pick up keys and leave. The first couple of days all I did was stand outside the door and count to 60 then go back in. Sometimes I would drive around the block. Then I would go back inside, put keys away, take off shoes and do something inside. A half hour later I did it all again. I gradually increased the amount of time each day that I was gone. Quite challenging with two small children! I also would not speak to her while I was getting ready to leave. I did not say good bye at all. No eye contact - I just left. Making a fuss when you are leaving only emphasizes their neediness. Same thing when I first came back inside the house. I would turn my back and ignore her until she was calm. I wanted to reassure her ''yes, I'm back!'' but it felt like that would bring attention to the separation. Also the last thing I did before I left was to put a small treat in her bowl. If I was leaving in the morning I would not give her breakfast until I was walking out the door. My leaving became associated with something she really loved. I didn't tell her the treat was there I just left it for her to find. So I did this very consistent training over and over to get her to see that (1) I always come back and (2) my leaving equals food and (3) my leaving and returning is so unimportant that it does not need to be acknowledged. A great tip from a friend was exercise. The first 2 months our dog was home alone I took her for a LONG walk before work EVERY morning. A tired dog is a well behaved dog! You don't have to do it forever. We do once a week now. The walks will help your dog to relax. It also gives them lots of time to go to the bathroom so they are ready to be inside for a long stretch. I couldn't do the crate thing with our dog given her large size and it seemed like an awful way for her to spend every day. Anyway, I hope this helps! Good luck! anon

Newly adopted dog cannot be left alone in the house

Sept 2007

After a year of thinking about it we finally took the plunge and adopted an adult dog from a local shelter. We decided on a lab / shephard mix who is approximately 3 years old. We know nothing about her history but she was obviously trained well by someone. She is absolutely lovely and perfect in every way EXCEPT she cannot be left alone in the house. She becomes extremely anxious when we leave. I can hear her crying all the way down the block. She is also destructive, scratching on doors and door frames, chewing on gates etc. She freaks our cats out too so they are hissing messes when we return. We are only leaving for 15 minutes at a time to walk the kids to and from school. She cannot come with us to the school and there are other errands I need to do without her. We have only had her for two weeks and I totally understand that she needs time to adjust. The problem is that we rent our home and cannot allow a dog to damage any part of it. How can we stop this behavior? I have left messages for two dog trainers to consult with but I would love to hear from anyone out there who has successfully dealt with this problem. If we can't solve this fairly quickly we will have no choice but to take her back and we don't want to do this. Help! prisoner in my own home

I thought my golden-shepherd was the worst. We got her at 16 months, and when we left her (with our 14-year-old dog), she freaked and chewed the front door. She did get better over time. We do two main things when we leave: We turn the radio on to give her company and we give her a treat--to try to turn our departure into a good thing for her. When our older dog died, though, she freaked all over again when we'd leave the house. Like you, I was at the end of my rope. So, at the vet's suggestion, when we were going to be gone a long time (eight hours), we gave her what the vet called ''puppy valium.'' And it worked dramatically. You could see the change in her demeanor when the drug kicked in. She was wagging her tail and really seemed happy. We left the house, and everything was in one piece when we returned. I didn't like the idea of medicating my dog for behavior. But it was a lifesaver. And the vet's prediction was that we wouldn't need to do this too many times. He was right. What happened is that the ''good feeling'' carried over. So she didn't freak out the next time. We did it only twice. And we haven't had to medicate her since. And finally, we got another dog, so she wouldn't be alone when we left anymore. Gwynne

Congratulations on the new dog. I know that in your frustration with the separation anxiety, you are questioning your choice. Is the dog crate trained? I would highly recommend this. You can use the crate for a little while every day when you are home and in sight. That way the dog can see you and won't be as upset. It is also a safe place for you to put the dog when you have to go out. The dog may still cry, bark, and be upset, but it can't destroy your home. Put in some old towels or blankets, so you don't get upset if those get destroyed, too. Keep up your efforts to contact a trainer. He or she will be able to shed more light on how to work with your problem. But in the meantime, a crate will keep the dog and your home safe. Good luck. Michelle

The first thing I would do is start getting your dog used to a dog crate/dog kennel. Some dogs with separation anxiety can figure there way out of there, so test it when you are home. But some dogs feel more comfortable in these and you might be able to leave him alone longer. If this doesn't work, in the short term, perhaps hire a dog walker to come walk her when you have to do errands. Then I would contact Shayna Stanis. She is not only a certified dog trainer, but has lot of experience with separation anxiety and works closely with a veterniarian so she has access to consultations about anti anxeity medication for dogs like clomicom. She can be reaced at 510-520-4044. or SstanisDT [at] Hang in there and good luck. Been There.

I am sorry you are experiencing this with your newly adopted dog. We adopted a dog from a shelter several years ago and the dog's separation anxiety was very bad. I have heard anecdotally that this is not uncommon for shelter dogs to have separation anxiety because of the sometimes unfavorable circumstance in which they find themselves available for adoption. At any rate, we read a few books and started to leave the dog for a few minutes at a time, gradually increasing the time. When things didn't get better and the dog started to hurt himself (and our possessions) while we were away, we called in an animal behaviorist, who told us that if we wanted to cure the anxiety, someone would have to be with the dog AT ALL TIMES for three months (doggie daycare would have been acceptable), then we would gradually increase the time away, beginning with a minute at a time until he could be left for a full 8-hour day. If you work from home, perhaps this could be a viable solution for you. It wasn't for us, unfortunately. For this and other reasons, we returned the dog to the shelter with full disclosure of his issues. We felt awful about it, but we just couldn't provide the best environment for the dog and we had to hope that someone else could. I am sorry that you are in a position to make this decision and my heart goes out to you. I wish that shelters could provide more support and information for situations like these. anon

Have you tried stuffing a KONG toy (at most pet food stores) with treats/dog food and peanut butter? We used those when we first got our dog to keep her busy when we left her and it worked great. It takes them a while to get the treats out and therefore they have less time to worry. We also have a KONG TIME machine that dispenses 4 stuffed KONGS over a four hour period or an eight hour period. Our dog doesn't need it as much now but when we go out of town our dog sitter sets it up to keep our dog busy between visits. I recommend it! happy dog owner

you will probably end up needing to discuss this with a veterinary behaviorist. you can also call around to general practicioners and see if you find one who enjoys bahavior issues. there are some basic concepts that you can put into effect as well as a new seperation anxiety medication that just came out and may help (but obly if used during behavior modification training). i would go the veterinary route as many trainers may not be comfortable with treating this condition or may not be up to date on current thinking in behavior modification. plan on committing some time to this if you want to keep the dog. it does take months to address severe problems with behavior. bpn vet

We too adopted a dog with serious fear of abandonment issues. His problem was more severe in some respects b/c he would bite me to try to keep me from leaving. (Rottweiler. A little scary this behavior. My husband was not happy.) He didn't seem to tear up the house much though. We have a fenced back yard, so we would put him out there. He would be more or less okay although he tended to whine quite a bit in the beginning. In the house I would play hide and seek games with him (these were a bit scary in the beginning because it would sometimes trigger the biting behavior) but it helped somehow over time. Even though he couldn't see me, I was there. Eventually I guess he realized that despite his problems, I was _always_ coming back. He still has some slight aggressiveness towards other dogs in certain situations, so he'll never be the dog we can have trotting about with us everywhere, but he's turned out to be a wonderful well-behaved family dog. Also in the beginning I took him on long exhausting hikes to wear him out completely. Then he was more mellow. Now with 2 kids I don't have time, but I have a dog walker who takes on this role a few times a week. Some dogs respond to puzzle toys like the Kong that you put treats or peanut butter inside and they have to figure out how to get the food out. Our dog took no interest in such toys, but anyway, the trainer should be able to help. I sure hope you can find a way to keep her, but if you live in an apartment and have no yard, this may not be the right choice of breed for you. Good luck. -anon

My sister is a dog trainer, so I think your instinct to talk to one is the right way to go! I asked her about this issue on behalf of a friend of mine, and she said she'd start by letting the dog see her leave for one minute, then five minutes, then ten minutes, finally building up to the 15-minute trip to the school. It can be really frustrating and seem impossible. But one of my sister's (five!) dogs had such horrible, horrible separation anxiety that he would poop and rip up the house when she left. (My sister? Is a saint.) And that dog is just fine now. It just takes a ton of patience and repeatedly showing this poor guy that he really can depend on you. Congratulations on your new dog, and THANK YOU for being a rescuer! Dogtownie

I have trained 2 rescue dogs with separation anxiety - succesfully. I met with a trainer once through SPCA - rates are reasonable and they will assess the overall temperament of the dog and give great training suggestions. It is a huge responsibility to train a dog. It will take time, dedication, and consistency, not unlike raising children. I would suggest a four tier approach. 1) If possible, take the dog with you everywhere in the beginning. Dogs are pack animals - your dog is insecure and unsure of its place in the pack and does not want to be abandoned. Read training book by the Monks of New Skete to understand the pack mentality. 2) Begin crate training, gently. If the dog must be left alone, it should have a ''den'' - a safe place to wait for your return. It is not a punishment place - it is home. Make sure you get the right size - not too big or small. Also, it will prevent the dog from destroying your home. Research the do's and don'ts of crate training. Manna from the sky, i.e. leaving treats in the crate without letting them see you do it, is a great way to get your dog to go in the crate. 3) Desensitize your pooch. Figure out what triggers the anxiety - the alarm, the shower, your keys jingling, the stroller??? What is it? One of my dogs was so anxious, I would start my morning routine, all the way from the beginning, any time of day/week, i.e. alarm, shower, meal, keys, front door - just past the anxiety trigger - and then go back to bed and start all over again. She needed to know I was coming home. She went from drooling anxious - to laying in her bed, relaxed. It sounds like a ton of work - but it works. 4) Build your dog's self esteem. Your dog needs a ''job''. Use the commands and teach her more. Have your dog go through a routine of commands before each meal, etc. You should spend a chunk of time every day working on her commands. Best of luck and please don't give up on your pooch. She needs you! You are her human. anon

It could help a lot if your dog were crate trained. Crate training helps b/c it gives the dog a safe place to be while you're gone. Not only does it comfort the dog, but it also keeps your house safe from destruction. This is only one idea. Patricia O'Connell has several small booklets available about ''problem'' dogs. There is one on anxious/fearful dogs. You can find it on Amazon for only 6 or 7 bucks. Ian Dunbar also has some great books, I mightly recommend him for crate training advice. You could also call Sirius Dog Training in Albany, which is Dr. Dunbar's studio. They would likely have some good advice for you as well. Anon

You should crate your dog when you leave. Having all the freedom of the house is too much especially for a dog you only had 2 weeks. Most dogs love their crates and can be left in the crate for up to 4 hours depending on their bladder control. It will also make your dog feel safer. Put in a soft blanket to lay on, a good chew toy and the dog should be fine. You can find crates for free or cheap on craigslist and many websites have info on crate training. It keeps the dog safe and your house safe. sroach

I sympathize and hope you'll find a solution to this problem. We adopted our (now) 14 y.o. purebred dog when he was about 20 months old. He's always had separation ''issues,'' though, luckily, not as severe as you describe. I encourage you to talk with your vet about using anti-anxiety meds (which our live-in dog sitter administers, short-term, when we travel) in conjunction with behavior modification training. You might also want to ask your vet or your city's Humane Society for recommendations for dog trainers. Good luck! dog lover

Have you tried waking up early to give her a good forty five minute - hour walk so she can release some of that anxiety? If she is walked first thing she may not feel so bad when she's left at home. You should also pick up some of those Kong toys. Stuff the toys with her wet kibble and stick it in the freezer. This makes a great treat/meal/toy to occupy her when you are not around. It will keep her mind focused on the frozen food and how to get it out rather than how do I get out of this place and find my owners. But the walk in the morning is the key to it all. Calm that anxious mind and body and you'll have a better dog (and a ball toss in the backyard does not count - she needs to move forward on a walk to really calm her down. Playing catch after the walk is cool though). I know it's hard when you are trying to get the kids ready for school but if it means keeping the dog over returning her to a shelter - it's really not that bad. nicole

Call Acme Dog Tours @ (510)832.6622 --I know He Knows Dogs

I recommend Homeopath Beth Murray. She treats people and animals and is especially gifted with animals. She has treated many animals at the zoo for emotional issues. Homeopathy is especially well suited to your dog's situation. Her contact: Beth Murray, (510) 530-1373 Shana

Call steve or Patrick at We have a dog that has serious separation anxiety and destroyed much of our house, before going through training with this company. Just know that this will be an ongoing training and time spent effort on your part, but it gets more managable. These guys are really good. Mananging my anxious dog

Go to a PetVet stores- on Broadway right by 51st in Oakland, & right off 80 on Potrero in El Cerrito- & get D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone). It's a little dispenser that you plug into an outlet near to where the dog sleeps, like an air freshener, & it emits the pheromone that the mother dog emits to calm the puppies when she's nursing. People can't smell it, it's not messy- no downside. It may sound like snake oil, but I can testify that it truly changed the life of a very shy & fearful dog of mine. I plugged it in right near his bed the first time & half forgot about it until a few weeks later when my friends started saying, ''Gee, Buster's a whole lot better!''. Over time he got better & better, calmer & more comfortable in his own skin. You can get refills, & I used it for the rest of his life- he remained a shy dog & still somewhat nervous, but he no longer paced around the house looking worried, stopped jumping at every little thing, & no longer ran at full speed away from new people. It allowed him to live the rest of his life as the happy dog he was meant to be. I had had him for about 3 years (he was abandoned at Pt. Isabel at 7 months old) before a vet told me about D.A.P., & in those years I had given him generous doses of love, had taken him to U.C. Davis's Vet Behavioral Department twice (they were horribly condescending, I do not recommend them), had put him on Chlomipramine which is the generic equivalent of Clomicalm (a vet med developed for anxiety & fear-related aggression in dogs), & had used T-Touch on him. The love, the Clomipramine, & the T-Touch all helped, he got better than he was when I found him, but it was the D.A.P. that really turned things around for him. I still kept him on the Chlomipramine just because I was afraid to risk rocking the boat, still used T-Touch now & then, &, of course, continued to shower him with love. I'll sign with my email address in case you'd like to ask me any more questions. I love to tell people about it because of the joy it brought into my home. FYI Chlomipramine, the generic equivalent of Clomicalm, is available from for about half the price of Chlomicalm. will fill vet prescriptions if it's also a drug for people, & Chlomipramine is an old tricyclic anti-depressant. I've heard that this med can work wonders for some dogs, and other old tricyclics are also used, so even though it wasn't what ''saved'' Buster, I'd say that it's worth looking into as well. Good for you for adopting an adult dog- hang in there! cece

Your dog's in serious need of crate training to reduce her anxiety! Even an adult dog can be trained, though it can take some time. Crates are great for insecure AND secure dogs; they just consider them their safe place. Our dog sleeps in hers at night (in my son's room) and goes straight in when we say ''bedtime, crate!'' She spends much of the morning there too, when the door is open and she can go in and out. It's her safe space. We draped the top and sides with a blanket so that it's a little cave-like (it's a wire cage type) and have a ton of towels and an old comforter on the bottom. She scratches the towels into the nest of her choosing and leans on the wire wall and is completely happy. When she was newly arrived (a rescue too, about 1.5 years old we think) she was really, really insecure, so we crated her when we left the house for the break-in period. That lasted maybe a month. After that she developed the understanding that we would return, so she was much calmer about things and did not chew or get into trouble at that point. One of the behavioral advisers will undoubtedly give you the same advice as well as create a desensitizing routine for you of increasing time apart, treats and praise when she's quiet etc. etc. - all of which should help a lot. The main thing to do is to create an instant safe space for her, and STICK TO IT. hope that helps. Bless you for adopting a rescue, and GOOD LUCK. - Nancy