He has done this off and on throughout his life, but it's getting worse. He is crate trained, but will still pee in it when I leave. I take him out before we go, and always tell him bye and that I will be back. But I can even be unloading groceries and be gone for 2 minutes and he will pee. I'm at my wits end. I've been told that he has severe anxiety. Is there anything on the market that I can give him to ease his anxiety when I leave?
- Make sure your crate is not too big; it should be big enough for the dog to turn around in and lie down. Dogs instinctually will not pee where they sleep, but if the crate's big enough, it will pee on one end and lie down on the other.
- Try leaving on a radio or the TV when you leave; that helps with stress
- Dogs will mark and/or poop to help themselves feel secure; if your dog has separation anxiety, working on that will help alleviate this behavior. One of my dogs will mark when he's stressed; helping him to feel secure curbed this. My other dog would chew up things (like my laptop charger, my phone charger, books, a favorite pair of shoes) because of that anxiety; again, helping him to feel secure curbed this
- Your dog is not too old to learn something new. It may take a little longer, but he'll get it. I taught a 10-year-old dog that was rescued from a hoarder to be potty-trained. It's possible.
- I can't tell if you're crating him whenever you're not there - ie when you go get groceries - or if it's when you're leaving for extended periods. If you crate only when you leave, you're teaching the dog that into crate = you leaving. If this is the case, try feeding your dog in the crate so that he associates the crate with more than that. Also, random 5-minute crating so that it doesn't mean you will be gone, just that he'll be in the crate. Are you crating because he's not well potty-trained? You might also think about investing in a gate and having him hang out in a bathroom if you're worried about accidents.
- When you come home, wait until he's totally calm before you let him out of the crate and then do so without making it be a big deal. That says you're the boss rather than answering his demand to be let out. Knowing that you're the boss, rather than not knowing who's the boss, helps with dog anxiety. I recommend 'The Dog Listener' by Jan Fennel. She has a great non-verbal method of telling a dog that you're the boss. Knowing that you're the boss will help a lot with the anxiety and will actually help your dog empty his bladder more fully. Fennel's book also gives lots of examples of 'bad' behavior and suggestions for how to deal with them. Victoria Stillwell of 'It's Me or the Dog' is also a great resource.
- 'Quiet Moments' are soft chews with Melatonin in them; my Silky can sometimes get stressed out/restless at night and one of them helps him calm down to go to sleep. That might help. It takes a few minutes, but the melatonin is calming.
Hope these help!
I suggest you take a good look at this blog by separation anxiety specialist Malena De Martini : http://malenademartini.com/blog/ for a modern and science-based approach to treating separation anxiety. If you are not sure what approach to take, you may want to consider employing a qualified behaviourist to prepare a treatment plan.
Be extremely cautious of advice that talks about 'being the boss' or insists on keeping your dog in his crate while he is upset out of some mistaken idea that a terrified dog will somehow learn control. Learning doesn't happen when a dog is frightened. He may give up and shut down into learned helplessness, but this is not a positive step, even though old fashioned resources sometimes portray it as such.