Anxious Hound Dog
I'm hoping someone can help!
I have a basset hound (Edith) who is about 7-8 years old. She was raised as a kennel dog and when my husband adopted her 4 years ago he was told that she was 3 years old. She had glaucoma in one eye when she was adopted and now has it in both eyes and is completely blind. However, being blind has not affected her behavior. Our main issue is that we recently purchased a new house and will be moving in 3 weeks. I can not allow her to destroy the house so I’m desperately seeking a way to calm her nerves and allow her to stay home without worrying that she ruin the house or hurt herself. When left alone Edith becomes agitated and suffers from high anxiety. When she gets like this (almost ever time she’s left alone) she tries anything and everything to escape. We can leave her for several hours and come home and she is fine (no potty accidents, etc.) and other times we can leave the house for 15-20 min to run to the grocery store and she's done ALL her business and is very agitated. We can not leave her alone in the house without containing her to one room, or she will get into the garbage, lay on the couch, knock things over in her attempt to try and escape. Other than the potty accidents, my biggest concern is her hurting herself while we are away. She is 100% my husbands dog. She loves that man more than I do I think. When my husband leaves the house she will sit at the door and whimper until he returns. Over the 4th of July we contained her in our bedroom because she is terrified of fireworks, while we went to a friends house down the street to watch the fireworks. While we were gone, so was so terrified of the fireworks, that she squeezed herself though 2 cat doors (she weighs 55 lbs and should NOT fit though the cat door) to get out of our bedroom in a panic and ended up locking herself in the downstairs bathroom trying to find an escape route. During another incident, she was so agitated at being left alone, that she ripped the screen out of our bay window and made it outside. Our neighbor called us saying they had found Edith crossing their front yard and put her back into the house and closed our windows. Please help me find away to calm her nerves and leave her in the house without worry!!!
Solving behavioral problems starts at the very source: something needs to change within the household to foster courage and confidence. Because your dog is visually impaired, you have to strengthen her other senses and practice little things that will help her gain confidence in you, your husband, and her own self.
It may sound trivial, but how is your dog's basic obedience? Knowing commands, having rules, and sticking to your rules helps communicate to the dog that you are a strong, stable leader and that she can confidently follow you. An excellent way to rightly assert your position is through NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free): http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm. From now on, your dog has to earn everything - ESPECIALLY affection from your husband. If she wants your husband to pet her, she must sit. If she wants her dinner, she must lay down. etc. etc. It sounds strict to us, but dogs crave schedules. They love knowing what is expected of them and their confidence will grow as they realize that you have everything under control.
Additionally, she is just too attached to your husband. If your husband encourages that tight, desperate attachment, it will ultimately worsen your pup's "separation anxiety". If your hubby is doing anything that may coddle your pup or inadvertently reward her anxiety and clingyness, tell him to stop and start fitting NILIF into his routine instead. A happy dog is one who is confident and calm and certain of his/her position and expectations. You have to relay to your pup that she has no need to worry because you *will* come back. This can be accomplished through alone training. Here's a link on SA and alone training: http://www.wagntrain.com/SeparationAnx.htm. A good book is "I'll Be Home Soon" by Patricia McConnell.
Even though your pup is visually impaired, her senses of smell and hearing are especially strong and you can easily tweak the above training advice to fit your pup. It CAN be done, but it starts at Square 1 - change within the home. :) Good luck.