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My mother owns a poodle that suffers extreme separation anxiety. She bought him as a young adult (2 years) from a breeder, she has had him for 18 months and has two other dogs. He has always been clingy, but it progressed to an untenable point within the first six months of her owning him.

He cannot be left alone, ever. He has damaged the house, he has actually dug holes through doors with his claws trying to get out and follow the last person to leave the house. So they are forced to take him everywhere they go or leave someone at home. This has been going on for a year.

She'd rather not sedate him, what can be done to help a dog with such severe separation anxiety?

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She needs to make it a positive experience.

Has she tried treating and then leaving the room? Then move on to treating and separating herself by some means, like a door, although it sounds like that could be a difficult place to start.

Has she tried crating? Maybe the dog needs a "safe place" to go when there are no humans around.

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    Crating can be very effective! It may seem counter-intuitive, and like a punishment, but many dogs do find it to be very comforting. – Beofett Oct 9 '13 at 13:56
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    My dog loves her crate. It is her safe place. – Brendan Hannemann Oct 9 '13 at 14:01
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Firstly if she picks the dog up or lets it sit on her lap every time it comes asking for attention she needs to stop doing so. She must give attention when it suits her, not the dog. This will show it that she is the leader.

Secondly she must start baby steps, but the dog in another room for a second and then let it out and treat it...slowly increase the time she leaves it in another room with the door closed, treat it every time. Never let it out while it is yelping, as soon as there is silence open and treat the dog. If the dog destroys anything don't reprimand it, the dog forgets what it done wrong and associates the hiding or scolding with being left alone.

Patience is key and dogs that suffer from anxiety require positive reinforcement. Training helps a lot, teach the dog new tricks and reward it for doing them, this boosts his/her self esteem which makes a big difference to the behaviour, also try walking the dog before it is left alone, it will have less energy and might respond better.

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