#emocharlie has separation anxiety

Charlie my beloved mutt has separation anxiety. There, I’ve said it.

We spend RM300 every month just for a dogsitter to look after him on the weekends and I’ve basically given up on a full time job just so I could be with him on the weekdays (okay, I really do not like working full time also :P). Which explains why he has to be at the sitter on the weekends, because I need dog-free activities like eating at non-dog friendly restaurants, catching a movie etc.

Leaving him for a 1/2 hour alone would mean that he would be barking ferociously at the closed door for a full 30 minutes until I’m home. Though I don’t work full time, I need to go out to meet clients on the weekdays too and whenever this happens, I in turn become the one with the anxiety problems :P

Yesterday someone offered me 2 tickets to watch a new movie tonight and imagine how ridiculous I felt when I had to decline the tickets because my dog cannot be left alone?

My greatest fear is the neighbours complaining and eventually getting us into trouble but touch wood, that has not happened yet. A neighbour did voice out to us about a barking episode a while ago though. And I had strived to stop that from happening again.

English Cocker Spaniels are a great breed but they are infamous for being needy. They need constant human contact, very very affectionate animals. Something which I had no idea when I got Charlie. Trust me, if I had learnt to research on dogs’ characters before getting a dog, I would not have gotten him at all. I’d get a cat instead, JUST KIDDING! But alas, it’s fated and I have to live with my decision for at least 15 years :)

So anyway, due to Charlie’s separation anxiety, I’ve been avoiding going out at all. I know it’s unhealthy for me but to be honest I was pretty happy cooped up at home with just my dog.

Then suddenly, I was swamped with work and had to go out a couple of times a week. Luckily my friend, Ringo could look after him. Another time the bf took leave to do it.

But today…today I couldn’t find any help. So it’s just me and Charlie and then Charlie alone from 12.00pm – 4.30pm. Frankly, I was worried to death. I took a chance by leaving the wooden door open hoping he won’t feel so trapped in our tiny apartment.

And when I got home, he wasn’t barking which was not really a good sign as I had learnt because it probably meant that he’s exhausted from it. I decided to ring a neighbour’s doorbell and according to her, he didn’t bark but instead he howled. In fact he howled for a while like he’s asking for pity. Then I asked her whether the howling disturbed her and she answered, “Nope”.

At that very moment, I was filled with pride and happiness that you cannot possibly imagine. I guess leaving the wooden door opened really worked!

Yes, I have reached a new milestone with Charlie :)

And possibly getting my social life back!!!!!

8 thoughts on “#emocharlie has separation anxiety”

  1. My dog had separation anxiety too, it’s damn tough but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind! I fought it off with tough love – first by locking myself in a room and shouting no/spraying water when she whines/barks. Then I took a risk by going out and although apparently she barked the whole time I was gone, I just ignored her and kept going out and sooner or later she got used to it and doesn’t give a crap anymore, hahahahahahaha.

  2. I have an English cocker spaniel too and he’s damn needy! He gets very very emo when he’s left alone at home, especially when my parents go on holiday. All the have to do is bring their luggage to the gate and he’d curl up in e corner, refusing to acknowledge anyone.

    Once, my entire family went out and as usual, he sat in a corner emo-ing as everyone left. But my dog didn’t know I was still home. So I hid behind the stairs and watched him (crazy, I know :P)… after a while, he’d get up, sniff around, gnaw on his toys, and gingerly go into parts of the house he knows he’s not allowed into! Sneaky bastard.

    So I thought the best way to keep him from being emo too long is to keep him busy at home. My dad sawed off a small part of the front grille so he can go roam around in the garden, and that seems to have kept him busy for a while – inspecting and sniffing around the garden everyday, barking at birds and squirrels.

    Perhaps they get clingy because they’ve got nothing else to do and they’re cooped up at home? Kinda like how some people tend to immerse ourselves with work and other activities to distract themselves from feeling emo? Haha I don’t know… I’ve had my cocker spaniel for 12 years now, and he’s still as emo as ever!

  3. My dog used to suffer from separation anxiety when he was younger. I was molly-coddling him when he was a puppy and I thought he needed more attention. Partly breed related, partly provoked by myself.

    You’re lucky your doggie only barked and howled. My doggie resorted to not only barking and howling, but scratching (door, furniture, etc), making a mess (shoes, mails, dustbin, etc), peeing on the couch or bed or in front of the main door (I researched about signs of his protest, spite and revenge for being left alone). When we return, we would be ignored, bitten, etc – yes, he would sulk!

    He would also go through depression when left at the pet hotel or friend’s place when we go on vacations.

    I tried several techniques of leaving the house in short to long intervals and coming back (so he can understand that he’s not abandoned), not acknowledging him immediately after I get home (to not encourage him to think he’s the centre of attention / my universe), say goodbye and teach him to understand how long he’ll be alone (eg. I say “Be right back” and he knows it’s only for a couple of minutes or I say “Take care of the house” and he knows it’s going to be hours alone.

    He’s much better now. He’s properly trained to be alone, although it took a long time to get him past his anxiety. You should try it instead of losing your life.

    I still have to make some adjustments (all doors closed so he won’t pee on my bed out of revenge), he’ll sometimes bite my shoes if he knows I’m getting ready to go out.

    Good luck!!! There is always help.

  4. I can totally understand your anxiety. My 3 year old Labrador cross suffers from sepraration anxiety as well. We reckon it has to do wtih his past as he had been abandoned twice by previously before we adopted him from the RSPCA. We didn’t know how much emotional baggage he was packing until we brought him home.

    The folks at the pound said that he could be left alone for 4 hours unsupervised. LIARS.

    The first time we left him alone for 4 hours, he ate my coffee table – a Benjy size chunk ripped out. The second time we left him for a shorter period of time, he ate our living room carpet.The third time we left him alone, for about 2 hours he found my husband’s winter jacket and shredded one of its sleeves. I guess we were slow learners, so the fourth time we left him alone he found the loo roll and shredded every single roll to bits. The place looked like a paper shredding machine had exploded.

    After replacing all the things he’s destroyed, we didn’t have enough money to send our dog for therapy, which he clearly needed. We did put more effort into helping him work out his angst – long walks, runs and lots of play time so we could bond and help him feel more stable and secure. Three years down the road and he’s nowhere near manic as he used to be. We try not to leave him for more than 5 hours alone. He still does not like being left alone, but as long as we leave the TV on and leave treats hidden around the house for him to find, he’s happy and doesn’t take it out on our possessions.

    From what you’re saying sounds like Charlie is making puppy steps in dealing with his separation anxiety. I think the key is to find something that will help him alleviate his anxiety or distract him from it when you’re not there.

  5. mell: you gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure, cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign, cruel to be kind, means that I love you, baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind. :D

    ky: totally agree..he’s such a knob!

    anon: i think you’re luckier than me! i don’t mind he emo and sulky as long as he doesn’t bark and wake up the entire neighbourhood haha. sigh spaniels are such darlings!!!

    winnie: true that, i think my mistake was pampering him too much when he was a pup too and now he has developed this crazy attachment -_- i did the interval thing for a while but he’s still the same. i worked out he probably felt trapped in the aprt and when he heard sounds outside he had no idea what they were & hence freaked out. i found out he secretly goes into our bedroom and lie in the bed too which is forbidden haha

    pts: wow, i’m glad your lab cross is improving, sounds like quite a severe form of anxiety. and they need to expel so much more energy don’t they? am lucky my dog has never destroyed anything more than a shoelace (when he was a wee pup). always tot if my dog did not bark when he’s alone, he would be a perfect dog but nothing’s perfect guess we all have to work at it slowly haha

  6. wow. i didn’t know. i thought emocharlie was an independent super obedient dog.

    well, after reading your blog post i really think that i’ve been a little ungrateful about my dachshund pup. Dachshunds are well-known barkers n Jed has some separation anxiety issues too on n off but most of the time when i go out, i’ll give him a freeze stuffed Kong toy or two so that he’ll be occupied. i was initially very worried that he will bark or whine when i go to work but my neighbours told me that they didn’t even know i had a dog until i told them! btw, i told them out of courtesy since i m living in a condo. :S

    another thing would be that Jed is always confined to his large playpen whenever i m not around to supervise him. i guess he got used to the fact that its his safe haven and he’ll be fine. some ppl say that if u let the dog run all over when u r not around, it will increase their separation anxiety coz the space of emptiness is larger. try to crate him or use the playpen rule when u r not around. i really think it helps n plus u wun have to worry about him hurting himself if he is in a safe place.

    good luck with emocharlie n i think he’s a really handsome cocker spaniel. :)

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