SEPARATION ANXIETY (CASE HISTORY WHEN LEFT ALONE)
QUESTION: My husband and I adopted a 4-year-old larger breed dog. Actually a Lab/Basset cross. We have had him over a year now. He has become so clingy to me, almost as if he can not quite do anything without me. It has reached the point where he hardly looks at anyone else in the household. And worse, now when I leave him alone, he urinates in the house, even though I know he is well house trained except when I am not at home. Help Please? I have tried getting mad at him and fussing over him when I leave the house and when I get back?
ANSWER: He is over bonded with you. This happens with some Labs but not so much with Bassets, by the way. Any chance he can have more contact with other dogs and other humans? He thinks you’re his "Leader Of The Pack" and maybe you and him are the only two members of the pack in his eyes. Other humans in the house are greatly loved but not considered Pack Members.
Can other members in the home try to capture his attention more often? So they too are more included in his Pack? And again, more socialization with other dogs and other humans?
He does not have a weak bladder or need to urinate, he is doing it out of "Separation Anxiety". Being separated from you upsets him so much, he can't help himself so no good to punish him for it.
Plus punishing a dog for house training accidents does no good unless caught right in the act or within a few seconds (not minutes). People think, "Oh Yes It Does, I screamed at my dog or threw him outside and he quit doing it". He quit doing it because he was no longer closely bonded with you, not because he had a clue what the punishment was for, simply because you have punished him. Or people will say, " If I come home and my dog has had an accident in the house, he cowers and slinks around because he knows he did something wrong". Wrong again!!! He is simply reading your body language the second you entered the home and is plain and simple, afraid of you because you have punished him in the past after coming home (by voice or deed). He doesn't know why, he just knows you, his master, can be unpredictable!!!
Okay, set it up so he is contained in the entrance area of the home or the kitchen when you’re gone. Anywhere with easy to clean Linoleum. Make sure he has his bed, toys, food and water available in this area. If not able to do this, then for a dog his size, purchase a large sized kennel and place him in that while your gone but MAX 7 or 8 hours for a healthy, mature animal. Far, far less for a puppy or a senior dog. (I hate kennels by the way but sometimes they are necessary).
Now here goes on stopping "Separation Anxiety" when you leave the home. First thing we do wrong is fuss over the dog when we leave. This gets them nervous and/or excited and/or worried. Simply Leave. Simply walk out without a word or backward glance. This way, your leaving will soon mean nothing to the dog.
Now even more important is when you return!!! Walk in and for the first few minutes you must TOTALLY ignore the dog. You must act like you do not see him, hear him, even know he exists. Ignore his jumping on you, walk around him, DO NOT LOOK AT HIM OR SPEAK TO HIM.
Only and again, ONLY when he calms down, do you look at him and say, "Well Hi There". Pet him a couple of times but that's it. Later of course, go back to loving him the way he deserves to be loved.
You are not being cruel, you are simply taking control of the situation. Believe it or not, this always works in the end. Some dogs quickly, other longer, but it does work. Because you’re leaving and returning now doesn't net the dog any extra attention, in fact, no attention at all. None.
Suggestions are to leave the TV on or a radio, both on a calming channel. Toys, etc available. And dog out to the bathroom before leaving and out again only AFTER he has calmed down. This puts a stop to Separation Anxiety in a normal home. Thus cures house-training accidents, chewing up and destroying household items and excessive barking. Trust me, if you follow the directions, it does work. Break from how you leave and especially how your re-enter the home and you will never cure the problem.