Just over two months ago, I wrote about Echo's separation anxiety. Well, we have been sticking with it and here is an update.
How much progress have you made?
In July, we would leave her for an average of 25 mins. She would be quiet/relaxed for, on average, 56% of that time.
In August, we would leave her for an average of 51 mins. She would be quiet/relaxed for, on average, 70% of the time. (This was largely pre-adaptil).
September. We increased the average time to 80 mins and managed an average of 76% of that time being calm/quiet.
October. The average time for each absence is still about 80 mins, but we have been doing multiple absences a day now. On average, she is quiet and relaxed 79% of the time. Not as much increase in her relaxed state, but considering the big jump in frequency and duration of alone times, I think this is pretty good.
Echo enjoying a walk with her backpack.
What doesn't appear to work?
Items of worn clothing. Lack of consistency. Music. In fact, music - relaxation and meditation types - seem to set her off more. I guess music only soothes the savage beast.
What might work?
Rescue Remedy. The jury is still out on this one. I can't say that I notice some miracle difference. It certainly doesn't make the issue worse so we kind of just stuck with it... until the bottle runs out.
Adaptil. This is the dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) that has had several peer-reviewed publications detailing its success in helping anxious dogs in shelters. Remember, I am a scientist. It comes in an air diffuser and each refill lasts about 30 days. It is designed to simulate the pheromone that lactating bitches produce to soothe and encourage puppies. Again, I'm not sure if we can attribute success directly to this product, but it certainly hasn't made anything worse.
What definitely works?
Walks! Big ones. Sniffy ones. Ones that make her physically and mentally tired. She is typically around 40% quiet/relaxed without a walk and much improved with one.
Kong and chew toys. The distraction helps I think. Along these lines having the dryer or dishwasher running seem far more relaxing for her than music.
About as much destruction as Echo has ever achieved.
Consistency! We had a lapse of five days over a long weekend and her next alone time was terrible. She had been around 70-90% calm and she dropped back to just 30%. Thankfully it wasn't as slow to build her back up again.
How can you be sure?
Again, I'm a scientist!! I keep a spreadsheet with all the variables and the duration of her alone times. Using the Dog Monitor app, I keep a record of how often she is noisy versus quiet, how long it took before her first howls/cries, and any notes of importance. For example, we know that if she goes for a walk but then comes home and naps for about 30 mins before we leave, she will be more anxious than if we had just left straight away.