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Doggie - separation anxiety. Add pet?

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truthsetmefree posted 1/16/2014 15:06 PM

I have a 11 year old Jack Russell that lost his older "sister" about 4 months ago. I thought he was doing ok until recently.

He seems to be experiencing EXTREME separation anxiety. Even if I'm just outside I can hear his most pitiful howling/crying. He sounds truly traumatized. Now he gets anxious just when I start to prepare to leave - just taking a shower starts him pacing. Additionally, we have started to have to crate him when we leave because he now dribbles when we are gone. It seems to be getting worse with each passing day.

So...I've thought about adding a second pet. Seems to be pretty much a no-brainer...other than the fact that I don't want another dog. I want a cat.

I've almost always had a cat - the last one being when Rudy was a puppy. But I had been afraid to add a cat again with having TWO JRTs. I brought one home once when Rudy was much much younger but he showed such an INTENSE interest that I was afraid to even give it a chance.

Now that he has some age on him and seems to be in such a needy place, I'm considering a cat again. I would want to start with a kitten in hopes that it would be more likely to bond with him - but that can also have the appeal of a really fun squeaky toy, too.

Any thoughts, suggestions, experiences?

I'm also open to any other suggestions to help with the anxiety.

Crescita posted 1/16/2014 16:52 PM

Cats are usually pretty good at staying out of the way and holding their own with small dogs. I would worry more with a kitten. Maybe contact your shelter about fostering a cat. Give your dog a temporary companion and if you find a cat that works, well you can be a foster failure and keep it

purplejacket4 posted 1/16/2014 17:08 PM

I did this when my oldest Sheltie died of cancer. His brother handled it ok but the 3 year old female black lab went into a deep depression. We got her on Prozac which helped but getting her a puppy helped more. She's a very "bossy" dog and needed someone to focus on. Good luck.

tushnurse posted 1/16/2014 17:17 PM

I would recommend taking him to the vet just to make sure he doesn't have any health issues going on presently.

I think if you get a kitten you would be just fine. If you got an adult that hasn't been around dogs, you may have issues because JRT's are high energy, even at 11, and some Adult cats have zero tolerance for being harassed.

truthsetmefree posted 1/16/2014 17:33 PM

I hadn't thought of a foster. I need to give some more consideration to that.

As for any medical issues, we've already taken him to the vet. He gets into so much stuff that we usually have a visit at least a couple of times a year (outside of regular visit).

The only thing I am worried about is that he LOVES squeaky toys.
And he did kill a rabbit last year in our back yard - and it was as big as him.

welcome14 posted 1/16/2014 17:50 PM

I agree with the adult cat/ foster idea. I have never had a Jack Russell, but have had Airedales all my life, up until the little yorkie that I have now that I rescued. All of the terriers have been very aggressive to other animals. One of my Airedales almost killed a kitten- my ex was holding the kitten, and Enya was watching intently. I told him she was just waiting- and the second he blinked, she had that kitten and was shaking it like a rag doll...that's how they kill them. I managed to pry it away from her, but x still couldn't believe how fast she had been. I have a big ole one eyed handicapped cat that is the yorkie's size, and he will start crap with the cat, but when the cat comes after him, he runs to mama. I think a foster/young cat would be fine. Just no kittens..... and all of my terriers have had seperation anxiety. To the point of eating through wooden doors and tearing up carpet and destroying walls..might be a breed thing if left alone. Hugs to ur poor pup...

Afraid2LoveAgain posted 1/16/2014 18:40 PM

I have a Rough Collie. I adopted two grown cats from the pound. They were the three musketeers. Both have now passed--they were senior cats when I adopted them.

I would recommend adult cats. My daughter's Jack Russell has her own pet--a Maine Coon who outweighs her.

Poor pup. It's so sad to see them grieve.

Jeaniegirl posted 1/16/2014 19:31 PM

My mother has a Jack Russell. That is the sweetest dog EXCEPT for cats. She hates them. Will do what she can to catch and kill them. I know several people with JRT dogs and none of them like cats. Perhaps if the dog started out with a kitten and grew up with it, it might be different.

But I would be fearful for the cat or kitten ...

Just my opinion.

Too_Trusting posted 1/16/2014 19:42 PM


I, unfortunately, have a LOT of experience with severe separation anxiety. I had a husky that was a shelter rescue, and OMG, she could NOT be left alone in the house. I couldn't crate her either, because she went into such a severe panic, that she salivated about 1/4" saliva into the crate. I am not exaggerating. We videotaped her in the crate, and it was heartbreaking. Digging, biting at the crate door, digging more, saliva pouring out of her mouth until she wore herself out. She would lay down for a few minutes, then back up and the cycle would repeat over and over until we got home.

I ended up taking her to a Veterinary Behaviorist 2.5 hours away from my home so we could participate in a clinical trial for the drug now prescribed for Separation Anxiety known as clomacalm. The video of her going crazy in the crate was made a part of the drug company's training video for vets. Truth, I swear.

Clomacalm is just another name for the drug Clomipramine. It worked wonders for my dog. That is, until she built up a tolerance to it and it quit working. Don't let that sway you, tho. This dog had a strange chemistry, and we had to try MANY drugs to find one that worked. We finally settled on Prozac, but even that didn't have the profound effect that the Clomipramine initially did.

NOW, I'm not advocating drugs for your dog. Only offering my story for insight if all else fails.

The other information I have to share is that I also have a JRT. My recommendation would be NOT to get a cat. JRT's have a very high prey drive, and cats are like squeaky toys that run to them. I also had cats that my JRT grew up with, and she chased them. Since you say your JRT has already killed a rabbit, I would not recommend a cat. I know that's not what you want to hear, but again, just relating my experience in mixing cats and JRT in my house.

I would recommend looking for an adult dog companion. Maybe see what you can find at a shelter or through a rescue. One that your JRT can be buddies with, that is not too large, and not too incredibly small to be bullied.

These are just MHO...YMMV! Hope this helps...

[This message edited by Too_Trusting at 7:43 PM, January 16th (Thursday)]

truthsetmefree posted 1/16/2014 20:21 PM

Thank you all for your honesty.

I think I know in my gut that cat or kitten is not a good idea. I want it to be - but these stories are what I needed to hear. With my other JRT I wouldn't have had these concerns; she just didn't demonstrate that high prey drive. It was a shock to me when Rudy reacted the way he did do the kitten years ago. But it was so intense I didn't even allow him the opportunity to see how he would actually respond. It's like he was just...zoned.

I feel so stuck because I don't *want* another dog. I like having only him - especially seeing as we take him many places that we go and that's just hard to do when you have two. But he's also never had to be home alone when we don't take him. I understood and even expected some of these responses now that he's having to experience that some (but I'm home a lot since I don't work). What I wasn't prepared for was it to be getting worse instead of better. He's not as bad as what some of you have described (though my other JRT was before getting him) and I do think his crate actually comforts him so that's good. So I really would hate to medicate him at this point. He's extremely clingy when we're home. Do you think it would help to establish some distance during those times (ie, making him sleep in his bed, etc)?

Spirit13 posted 1/17/2014 09:06 AM


I have two smaller dogs and one has separation anxiety. Have you heard about thundershirts? I use one on her when she has anxiety attacks (hers are not related to thunder or storms) and it works really well. You can google them. They are basically really tight "shirts" you put on them which are secured with velcro and for some reason - it calms them down. With my dog - you don't have to have it on all the time, but after about 30 minutes you can take it off and she is fine. Also, it is comfortable enough that she can wear it for longer periods too. At first - she acted like she couldn't move though so.... pretty funny. They get used to it.

Anyway, my girl does have a lot more trouble if she is separated from the other dog. That's pretty much her main trigger - being totally alone. When I have to take the other dog to the vet - she gets very very upset. I know your vet can give you meds for this, but in the end fostering another dog would be a great solution. You can do it with a stray rescue type organization (maybe consider a senior dog?? calmer and better match) with the agreement that the dog can go back if it doesn't work out.

I've fostered 19 cats and kittens and so far only "kept" one so it IS possible to let them go. Hard, but possible!

Pentup posted 1/17/2014 09:09 AM

We put our one dog on Prozac for other reasons. It fixed the accident issue and has helped immensely with the separation anxiety and toy aggression. I would ask your vet about meds.

Too_Trusting posted 1/17/2014 10:24 AM


Along with the clinical trial for meds, we also worked on behavior modification exercises. I put my dog in the crate, and then told her to stay while I walked a few steps away. When she stayed for that exercise, she got a "good stay" and a small treat. We worked at progressively moving farther and farther away until I could leave the room and she would stay. You might try a few exercises like that.

I can HIGHLY recommend the book "The Dog Who Loved Too Much" by Dr. Nicholas Dodman. There is a chapter about separation anxiety and Dodman is considered the pioneer in using human drugs, coupled with behavior modification exercises, in helping dogs with behavior issues. That is where I first learned about possible drug therapy for my dog.

You must understand that my dog was SEVERE. I left her in the house one day and was gone for about an hour. She DESTROYED my home office and when I returned, she was so tangled in my mini blinds that I had to cut them off of her. It took 5 hours for me to clean the mess she made in my office.

If you really don't want to get her a companion dog, I would recommend really focusing on some behavior modification exercises. Read Dr. Dodman's chapter about Separation Anxiety, or see if you can find a trainer in your area to help with some exercises. I found that anxiety will escalate if you don't do something to try to re-focus her anxiety.

lifestoshort posted 1/17/2014 15:41 PM

when my ex stole my 1st dog, my 2nd dog was super sad and depressed BUT then about 3 weeks in she got better. she was behaving better and content. I could give her more individual time and she stayed in her yard. when I won the 1st dog back in court, all hell broke lose cause dog #1 is a bad influence. the house went to crazy mehaim again.

if I were you, make sure you want to add another dog before you truly do it. 2 certainly makes the other happy but it is a TON of work. and cost. kenneling, food, care.

I prefer one calm dog over 2 dogs that become hyper freaks together LOL.

Catwoman posted 1/17/2014 17:50 PM

You might want to try a thunder coat. It is a compression coat that tends to have a calming effect.


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