>This dog was abused and abandoned twice before we adopted her. She was
>almost autistic for several months, but through lots of patience and
>affection, she become "almost" normal. Any little change in her routine
>makes her nuts, and when my wife started travelling more than usual was
>when she went wild. Believe me, we did not start her on medication
>without exhausting every other means. The dosage she is on is extremely
>mild, and the vet says it is non-habituating. She doesn't take it when
>someone is home with her, only when she will be alone. We have tried
>leaving her for short times without medication first, and it doesn't
>work. She shrieks and cries and scratches, etc. With the meds she just
>eats her treats and chills out. Maybe in a few weeks, we will try
>taking her off, but I'd rather have a happy dog on mild tranqs than a
>miserable and anguished dog who is tearing up the house. I posted the
>message about this option because one hears so often about people who
>have a dog "put to sleep" due to unmanageable behavior related to
>separation anxiety and I want people to know there are other options.


Certainly your work with your dog is commendable. When you leave your dog, whether for short or long periods she is quite simply, LOST and ALONE. Her world becomes disoriented, she has no anchors and she reverts to her most atavistic behaviors to regain control over her reality. Mental anxiety induces physical symptoms and vice-versa in a cascading effect. The drug reduces the mental anxiety, physical symptoms and/or cascading effect to a level that she can control.

The key is to acclimate your dog to increasing periods of separation. You will need to start separation exercises involving periods of well less than one minute and gradually increase to a few minutes, etc. Leaving her an article of clothing with your scent may also help. You do not want to make such a big deal of your comings or goings that she anticipates the "dreaded" event and gets more anxious. Comings and goings should be treated as ordinary events. Babying her is an absolute NO. Punishment won't help. SAFE crating may also help relieve anxiety and protect her from the consequences of her destructiveness. If you go on a long trip board her or when you return she may be worse than when you left.

CONTINUALLY reinforced obedience training and play that develops focus and concentration will help. It will give her structure and reinforce your control. She, in turn, will learn to control her impulses in the face of a variety of environmental stimuli (distractions). Exercise may also help. As your dog becomes more acclimated to her home and family she will gain confidence and may, with the right reinforcement, embrace change... New Fun, that is.


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