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Separation anxiety and multiple human bites

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Forums Members Separation anxiety and multiple human bites

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    Hello All,


    This is my first posting, so please bear with me 🙂 I’m really hoping you can help me come up with a plan for a friend of a friend.

    Hx: “Milo” is an estimate 3-4 yr old MN 30# Rottie/Aussie mix who lives on a big ranch in Colorado with lots of other dogs.  He was adopted by the friend when he was 1-2 years old and she neutered him the very next day.  Here’s how she describes his attachment to her:

    The behavior issues:  he’s attached to me like Velcro. He was that way starting 20 minutes after I got him. I’ve always had border collies so I am very familiar with very smart high energy dogs. This one is different. He ‘flips a switch’ and gets completely manic and obsessive. He has worn a path in the back yard along the fence from trying to get to something he thinks he sees in their pasture. Sometimes there’s a rabbit or something out there. Most of the time he’s just running to run.
    He’s also very obsessed with the chickens. He was ok when supervised but then the switch goes and he will frantically chase them. It has gotten worse lately. I’ve done a lot of work with him away from stimuli to work on recall and ‘leave it’. He’s perfect anywhere away from the birds. Last summer he bit my neighbor when she was holding a chicken. Broke the skin.
    The most annoying issue is that when I’m home (inside or outside) and he’s in the back yard (i.e. Not next to me) he loses his mind. He frantically barks and runs around the house. His bark makes you want to kill yourself. It’s really high pitched. It feels like your ear drums are going to rupture. The other dogs can’t stand his barking either. They have attacked him on a few occasions when he doesn’t stop. Then when I let him in, 2 of the other dogs feel the need to mark their territory when he comes inside. Until I brought him home, we never had an issue with them peeing in the house. Once he’s inside, he chills out and sleeps on his bed.
    When no one is home, he doesn’t bark that much. Just at people walking on the road or the garbage truck. But he does run the fence a ton. I’ve tried taking him in the truck with me on farm calls, but he has developed major anxiety about being in a vehicle. He wasn’t that way until about a year ago. I don’t know what triggered it. And when I’m parked and working on a patient, he’s barking. That bark that makes you homicidal.
    Things we have tried:
    Exercise (no change)
    Lots of training (made it worse- more attached to me)
    Clomicalm (no change)
    Having anyone but me feed and take care of him( no change)
    CBD infused dog treats (small change in anxiety, no change in barking)
    I’m open to suggestions. I’m ready to rehome him to friends who work on a huge cattle ranch. But I’m not sure if he will bond with them or become even more neurotic because I leave him.
    I thought the dog suffered from :
    -separation anxiety when away from Mom
    -not sure what to call it when goes after (neighbor with) chicken- displaced aggression I don’t think really fits because he was probably just trying to get the chicken
    -interdog aggression/getting ganged up on- not sure how much/if he fights back
    -hyper vigilance with the worn path and also b/c BIT the PROPANE TANK guy (situation; all dogs loose in backyard where tank is, only this dog bit)
    -having had positive punishment used on him (shock collar)
    -having had negative punishment used on him (separation from Mom/rest of pack)
    I told the o that if I had a dog like that, I’d try the pet tutor bark detection collar, no more punishment (not working!), protocol for relaxation, (can add holding breath/deference) and consider some meds along the lines of clonidine to help immediately decrease the hyper vigilance and separation anxiety and possibly trazodone as a fast acting anti anxiety.
    I have asked her to avoid the situations as much as possible (not putting in backyard, etc) and filming the behaviors.
    Milo and I welcome thought from much smarter people about this case.
    It would help me if input could also address1) what list of problems would you come up with for this p? and 2) step by step/in what order the problems should be addressed and 3) would you please critique my med options.
    Many thanks everyone,
    Liz 🙂

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