I adopted Dakota in January 2005, when he was 2 years old. Having had 2 Siberians previously (not at the same time), I was very familiar with the breed. While definitely not a breed for most dog owners, I am especially fond of the breed, partly for some of their characteristics that make them a difficult breed for many people. (They can be very strong willed, stubborn, and hard to train. They are the closest relative to the wolf of all dog breeds, and their behavior is almost exactly like that of a wolf.)
Once I got him, I knew there was going to be a problem. I literally could not leave the room he was in. Wherever I was, he was right at my feet. If I tried to go upstairs, and confine him to the downstairs with a “kiddie” gate, he would tear it down, or climb over it. And, of course, if I went out of the house, he would go crazy.
Unfortunately, unlike my two previous Siberians, he was never crate trained. I was told he could escape from any crate. I did not believe that, since my crate had worked well for the two previous Siberians. He went nuts when he was in the crate, but I figured he would get used to it, eventually, and it would keep him from doing damage to the house.
Well, they were right. Every time I left him, he would escape, and then proceed to destroy doors and tear down blinds. He would also have “accidents”, and it was not a case of needing to go out. He is exceptionally well house trained, as long as he was not left alone. I even tried to keep the crate door closed by using bungee cords and carabiners. He still escaped, and wreaked havoc. Also, until he escaped, he would salavate so much from panic that it would look like he had urinated in the crate, but it was all saliva.
So, I bought books and read. I learned that you need to “distract” the dog when you are not there with things like kong toys stuffed with something they especially like. I will go into all of this in later posts. But, suffice it to say, that did not work very well. This is a picture of what he did to my garage door one time, about 3 months after I got him, when I left him for about 4 hours. The only reason that he did not go completely through the door was that the garage side of the door was covered with a metal sheet for fire code!
Dakota the destroyer
At this point, I called my vet, showed him a picture, and said “I think it is time for “Clomicalm”. He agreed! Clomicalm is a tricyclic antidepressant for dogs with separation anxiety. The generic name is Clopramine. It is not typically used for humans, although I believe it is used in some human treatments.
This helped, although he was later transitioned to Prozac. The generic drug name is Fluoxetine. Since my local drug store sells most generic drugs for $4 for a 30 day supply, this drug is vastly cheaper than Clomicalm, and it appears to work much better, at least for Dakota. It does not solve the problem, but at least now I can leave him alone for 3 to 4 hours without coming home to destruction or a mess.
This is just a brief introduction to the topic, and my experience with a dog with severe separation anxiety. As time goes on, I will add many more posts, both about my experiences with various treatments and conditioning routines. Hopefully, many more people will contribute information and links to good information on this topic.