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There are a lot of posts about separation anxiety, but usually they revolve around the same simple tips (exercise your dog before leaving, etc.) which most of the owners have already tried and therefore it doesn't help to solve the problem. In this post I want to ask people to share what helped to make significant improvements with separation anxiety.

Overview of the current state of separation anxiety with our vizsla.

Our dog is nearly 12 months old female from a popular breeder. We know that her siblings are also pretty emotional (separation anxiety, excitement peeing). Me and my fiancée live in a small single room apartment and we brought our pup at the age of 2 months. From day one she is restlessly following us from room to room even when she is sleepy. Because of this at first she was sleeping in our bed (she would cry the whole night if not allowed to be in bed). At the age of 6 months something shifted in her mindset and from then on we were able to exclude her from bed and instead let her sleep on the couch in the same room. But to this day when we are planning to go to bed she is anxiously travelling from couch to bed and she does this routine in the morning as well.

Activities.
  • Physical exercise: even though our aparment is small, we live nearby a park where mostly everyday she can run off leash by herself or with some company. She gets 3 walks per day and we also play in the apartment with her toys.
  • Mental exercise: every day she does commands (sit, lay down, etc.), has to take out her meals from kong wobbler toy and gets a frozen peanut butter in a rubber kong toy.
  • Crate: from day one we use a decent size crate (110x70x70cm) which is large enough for our vizsla to eat a dessert and lay down for a nap.
The problem.
When we shut doors inside of the apartment in front of her she will start whining, but if we both leave she will start barking forever. When one person leaves typically she is slightly upset and when one gets back she becomes extremely excited (brings toys, jumps on you and in some cases pees). After we get back home we ignore her as if we don't notice her.
When we both leave home, we put our vizsla in the crate and she manages to stay for 30-60 mins without serious whining. This can be prolonged sometimes to ~2 hours if she is tired or if she thinks that we are at home. After that she will start her sad barking routine which creates problems with our neighbours. Because of that we barely ever leave her alone and are unable to make her used to it.

What worked best so far.
Every evening we have a routine to give her a dessert - frozen kong/bovine trachea in exchange that we lock her in the crate while we watch TV. She is very happy with this arrangement, but after she finishes her treat, she may start whining, but usually just goes to sleep. The only reason this works, is that she can see that we are in the same room. Since this "treat exchange to crate time" became a daily routine, when we both leave we can trick our dog into thinking that we are still at home. Sometimes we additionally leave a movie or our own recorded voices, but I don't think this helps in our case.

Here's a pic where she is offended that she had to stay in the crate:
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Have you ever videod her while away?
Most dogs with true separation anxiety. Not only bark, but they drool and pant heavily, some will even soil themselves. They bite the crate trying their best to escape, or demolish a house trying to get out to you.

I am not trying to make light of your situation. I've had some fosters, that are harder to crate train than others.
Also a severe separation anxiety foster, that I adopted. He was a senior, and while he got slightly better. He was always a separation anxiety dog, until he passed away.
Apartment life, might be part of the problem. To keep neighbors happy, you couldn't let her throw a tantrum in the crate as a puppy. So she learned, that barking meant she didn't have to stay in it. In her mind It is set in stone. Throw a huge fit, for however long it takes, and you get out. It's so much harder to turn this around, later in life. Than it would been as a tiny puppy.
There is no way to know if she would have started this anyway. But not being able to leave them as puppies, turns them into dogs you can not leave home alone.
 
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for the reply. We have recorded audio and streamed her on a live web camera. When she was a few months old we would leave her in the crate with some food, but of course she would not touch it. Instead she would bark, try to escape, sometimes pee and there was one pooping accident. She would only eat until we got back (typical with separation anxiety). Now it appears that she can be calm in the crate by herself until she finishes her treats and then she starts whining/barking when she understands that she is left alone. She didn't try to escape during recent tests, but then again, we only leave her for up to 3 hours.
Her separation behaviour is interesting outside as well. She tries to ensure that everyone is together, e.g. if one person is leaving then she pulls me towards that person as hard as she can (even though the collar starts strangling). This is also true if we are with our friends for awhile and they start leaving, then she also starts feeling responsibility to keep us together. I wonder if this behaviour has something to do with her place in the hierarchy, e.g. maybe she feels dominant and therefore responsible for others. We try to establish our dominance by making our dog eat after we start eating and go through the door second, etc.
 

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I wish I could help you more, but i only had very limited improvement with my S.A. dog.
When he came to us, he almost had to be touching us 24/7, and always had to be in the same room.
He did relax enough over time, that he had his own livingroom chair. He learned a place command, and would go lay in his chair. I could mow the lawn, and leave him in the house. He would normally doze in his chair while I did this. Get up and look out the window then go lay back down.
For some unknown reason he was fine in the vehicle, if I needed to run into the store. He loved everyone, so I would just have someone dog sit, on the rare occasion I couldn't be home.
We did group obedience classes for a year. He hunted with me, and then went to the fields to run two or three times a week. If we missed either one of these things, he was a clingy hot mess.
 
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It took a long time and a lot of patience to get rid of Juice separation anxiety.

We first started with leaving him at home an hour at a time then increased it to a few hours (around 4-5 months ish). We also "tricked" him with treats. We have a camera and watched him and he would sleep or running around the house and bite things. We did this frequently to help him get accustomed with us being gone for short periods.

Around 6 months, I started dropping him off at a daycare once every 2 weeks so he can socialize since he has no siblings. By then he reduced his whining and barking to a brief 10 second whimper every time I would walk out the front door.

What really changed was at month 7 when we left town for a week and we left him with a trusted friend who was well experienced with dogs and whom I knew could handle a Vizsla. The days following our trip, I noticed he had significantly less anxiety about me walking in and out of rooms and especially when I left the house. He just watches us leave the front door. My friend thinks he's now developed a "trust" bond with us.

He is 8 months now and as long as he gets the exercise he needs, I know I wont have an issue with him at home for a couple of hours. He will watch us leave through the window and usually just sleeps when we check on him with the camera. He rarely barks or whines now. We don't leave anything on. We no longer have to trick him with treats. It really does feel like he knows we'll come back.
 

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I have 14 month old male Vizsla names Gary. We live in Tokyo in apartment. Due to COVID-19 we haven’t had a lot of separation, although Gary does attend daycare 3 days a week. My problem with separation anxiety is when we come home and how to handle it.
We went out last night for a dinner Garys is fine when we are gone but when we come back he goes nuts and starts peeing every where. Last night it was on our bed :(
Any suggestions on the best way to calmly come home? I know he will be excited to see us but as of now it is a bit much!
Thanks for any suggestions
Best
Shannon
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have 14 month old male Vizsla names Gary. We live in Tokyo in apartment. Due to COVID-19 we haven’t had a lot of separation, although Gary does attend daycare 3 days a week. My problem with separation anxiety is when we come home and how to handle it.
We went out last night for a dinner Garys is fine when we are gone but when we come back he goes nuts and starts peeing every where. Last night it was on our bed :(
Any suggestions on the best way to calmly come home? I know he will be excited to see us but as of now it is a bit much!
Thanks for any suggestions
Best
Shannon
I have a similar case with the excitement. Everytime someone comes home my V is excited and happily jumps a lot on the person. Based on tips online we decided that after we come home, we walk in and act is we weren't gone and we ignore the dog. When our V is excited she is more likely to pee if we touch her. I am not sure if it's a submissive thing, but we avoid touching her when she is the most excited.
Even if you completely ignore your young V, it's still not guaranteed that she won't pee. For example, when we are expecting guests we typically put her diaper on to avoid all the potential mess.
 
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