Not the Worst: a Detailed Account of Anxiety

After getting to know Garnet a bit more, and her settling into the house (not pacing and whining for literally 90% of my waking hours), it’s safe to say she has separation anxiety (SA) and some puppy boredom. This morning I gave her another half-dose of Benadryl since I was going to be gone for longer than I had been over the weekend. She was perfect until a couple hours after I left, at which point she chewed some duct tape off the crate (placed there to provide an extra layer to protect my $25 crate investment). It didn’t seem like she was trying to escape, just needed something to do and apparently the Nylabone and Kong weren’t hacking it. That’s easy enough to solve: make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy (i.e. make the duct tape spicy and the king more appetizing and challenging.

This afternoon I thought I’d see how much the Benadryl was doing. Turns out it was definitely helping. I went through my usual routine of leaving and made sure she was nice and calm before I left. After she figured out I was gone, she spent 10 minutes trying to escape (whining, tearing off duct tape, biting the bars on the door, and busting a zip tie I put on the door just in case), then settled down for almost 15 minutes. Then the cycle repeated, but lasted maybe 5-7 minutes and stopped when she hit the spicy duct tape. Then again 15 minutes later for 7-8 minutes on and off. About an hour later, she whined for about 20 minutes, worked half-heartedly on another zip tie and licked and bit at the bars for a minute or two. 15 minutes later, 20 more minutes of whining and some pawing and biting at the door.

In case this sounds really bad, I’ll compare her to Galen’s case: she didn’t lose control of her bowels and/or bladder (he did for a couple months), she didn’t actually escape (Galen busted an airline crate twice when I was home for Christmas and opened the bottom latch of his wire crate and squeezed out the door once), she didn’t howl, whine, or bark the entire time I was gone (Galen did when I tried letting him have the whole apartment and for several weeks after we went back to the crate), and she didn’t injure herself (Galen chipped a canine chewing on crate bars, and rubbed his nose to the point of bleeding during the great Christmas escape of 2014). Based on those things, I would gauge Garnet’s anxiety at a lower intensity than Galen’s, so hopefully the process will be a bit quicker for her.

My plan is to go back to low dose Benadryl for the time that I have her, because the difference is just so huge. I’ve dealt with anxiety myself, and having relief from that inescapable uncomfortableness and being able to rest is too much to pass up in the name of pride or anything else. If it helps her associate my leaving with calm and sleep, and keeps her from chipping teeth and cutting up her paws, then I can be OK with it. Obviously, this is in conjunction with behavioral modification (desensitization and the like), and will be phased out ASAP. I don’t expect to have her past tomorrow, but I want to make the most difference possible with the time I do have.

The face of a lazy puppy

The face of a lazy puppy

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