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Tries to KILL herself!

2512 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  bullbleu

Hello, my name is Shannon!  I am the owner of Sadie Mae, my almost 2 yr. old boxer.  I rescued her when she was about 5 months old.  She was extremelly sick for the first month with kennel cough which turned into severe pnemonia.  For a little over a year now Sadie has been on Clomicalm.  She has the worse case of separation anxiety 4 vets have ever seen!  She has broken both canines, dislocated her job 6 times trying to get out of the crate, tried to eat her feet until they were all bloody, destroyed 2 couches, 2 loveseats, a door, a room full of brand new carpet & padding (shredded it), eaten over 20 window blinds and many many MANY more things!  As I said, she has been on clomicalm for over a year.  She's on 75mg 3x a day.  I tried weening her off of it but things only got worse.  I have tried behavior training as well.  I am completely worn out from all this!  My husband and I have talked previously about finding a new home for her...but can not seem to do it because we are too scared she'll just end up going from home to home and eventually end up in the pound sentenced to death.  I could not live w/ myself if that happened!   I just honostly don't know what to do anymore.  YES, the clomicalm has helped tremendously!!!  But she can't be on it forever!!!  Then what?  Trying to put her in a crate is the worse thing in her eyes!  That's when she does all the damage to herself!  I am a stay at home mom so I am here most of the time!  But on the weekends my husband & myself have to do things.  Anyone have the same severe problems?  Any suggestions?   :cry:
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God, thats awful.  I've never heard of a case of SA that bad.   My puppy developed separation anxiety early on, I had to ween him off of it.  It wasn't nearly that bad but I was unable to crate him because I was afraid he was going to hurt himself.  He did rip apart some couch cushions.  But I gradually was able to get him to the point where he can stay home alone and be fine.   It took a lot of work.  I also am home all day so I think they get spoiled, they don't understand we like to have a life on the weekends!  I'm sure you've tried a lot of things, I'm just wondering if you started at the basic level:   Leaving her in a room alone while you are home.  Even if just for 5 minutes a day.  Thats what really got me to the next level with my boy, he was just so used to being with me all day that he couldn't stand it if I left the room.  I decided to separate him for a few minutes a day.  Then increase it to 10 mins the next week.  Then leaving the house for 2 minutes a day.  Then 5 minutes.  So on and so forth.  The exact times aren't really important, just starting from scratch.  The idea is to return before the anxiety sets in so the separation doesn't give them a negative association.  Usually once they realize you will always come back eventually, they are ok.  I've read that once you can leave them alone for 30 mins, they can be left for longer, because the worst SA usually sets in right after you leave.  I went from a dog that would freak out if I went to the bathroom to a dog that could be left alone for 8 hours sleeping on the couch.  Wasn't easy though.

I'm also wondering how much exercise she gets.  Sometimes running around in the yard isn't enough.  Have you tried really getting her tired out (I'm talking like a playdate with other dogs for a few hours) and then leaving her alone?  If you could tire her out so much just once and then get her to be ok alone for a little bit, that could be a huge first step.  

I always enjoy this issue because I'm still learning about it myself.  But it's very possible there just may be cases (perhaps yours) that are beyond basic treatment.
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OMG, I was having dejavue listening to your story. Ok, my very first boxer did the same thing. He ate through two airline crates, then I got him the all metal cage. Well, he could somehow move that crate around my condo. He ate through 6 sets of vertical blinds on my sliding door, any couch pillows he could get a hold of and that was all while he was in the darn crate!! He also chewed the trim off the front door, opened the oven, opened and took all the clothes out of my dresser drawers. It was incredible. I was recently divorced and working two jobs - I was about to have a nervous breakdown. Well, someone told me a about this pet psychic (I know, sounds crazy) and I finally broke down and called her. It was the best $60 I ever spent. She told me that he was lonely and needed a companion as well as more exercise. Well, I started walking him at least two miles a day and got him a kitten - do you know that he never tore up another thing in that apt and ended up being one of the smartest animals I have ever had!
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Welcome aboard Shannon! Boy, I wish you had better news for us on your first post!

My first boxer had severe seperation anxiety also. I never put him on clomicalm or any other meds for it though, I just worked through it. He too would break out of his crate and destroy things in the house. Chewed up some rugs, destroyed doors, he was a mess. When I did try to keep him in his crate using cable ties so he could not get out, I would come home to a disgusting mess of him and his crate. He would get himself so worked up in the crate, he would throw up, and believe me when I say it was like projectile was everywhere. I finally came to the conclusion that he could not be crated, so I pretty much doggy proofed the house before I left. I would close all doors to bedrooms and bathrooms. Remove anything of value, or anything chewable. I guess that was the reason some of my rugs, baseboards, and doors got destroyed!
When you do start to leave the house, do it in small intervals at a time. With Sadie, it does sound like she does have an extreme case, so you will need to work slowly with her. When you first start to leave, just go out the door for a few seconds then come back in. If she seems ok, lenghthen the time you leave everytime.  
Work up to a two minute leave to the mailbox. Then add minutes as the days progress. When you leave, just leave. Do not give her any special attention, just say Ok Sadie, I'll be back, and leave. When you return, ignore her. Do not make eye contact with her for the first few minutes. Read the mail, go to the bathroom, whatever, again make it no big deal. Eventually you can give her a pat on the head and say I'm back. Do this each and every time you leave the house. Also, what Sully said, it is a great idea to get them really tired before you leave. A tired boxer, is a well behaved boxer.
When you start leaving her, you can leave a radio or TV on for her and also give her a tshirt that has your scent on it. When you return, if she did do some form of destruction, do not punish her, that can actually make the SA worse. Just clean it up and move on. SA is a panic response when you leave so you need to desensitize that feeling of panic.
I think you can work this through, but everyone in the house has to be on the same page and practice the exact same things as you with Sadie. Good Luck with this. I know how frustrating it is, and let us know how she is progressing.  :)
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Tootsie great points, I had the same problem with the crate and couldn't get it to work.  The funny thing is after some gradual training, he was fine if he left out of the one point I tried to reintroduce the crate and he reverted back to the bad SA days so I said screw it!  It kinda scares me that he's uncrated but like you said, closing a few doors and gating off areas/valuables is better than coming home to a complete disaster.  

Another suggestion I have is trying some doggie daycare.  For one thing, time spent away from you might do her good.  Also a reputable place will understand SA and help you with it.  The best part is the exercise with other dogs will leave her exhausted.  My boy sleeps for like 2 days after a day at the daycare.
Maggie has pretty severe separation anxiety!  When she was younger she basically destroyed my sisters house... i have a picture of her the day she jumped out the window of the house, she has a cut on her chin from hitting the concrete outside.. now she is really scared of just about everything.... we were in the car the other day and she wouldnt stop shaking... my sister and i were trying to figure out what it was!
First I'd like to thank all of you for your responses!  I have tried all of your ideas.  That's why I'm at such a loss.  As I said before, she is SOOOOOOO much better on the clomicalm...but my problem is when it's time to take her off.  Every time I try to lower the dosage, it's back to the same thing.  I also have a american bulldog/boxer mix.  I rescued him from petfinder when he only had a couple hours left to live.  They descriminated against him due to him having american bulldog in him and they said bully breeds were not trustable!  HA!  He had also been shot in the thigh, a broken knee, other knee cap is permantly dislocated and he's deaf!  So he was deemed unadoptable!  Well he came home w/ me!!!  I tell you what!  He's the BEST dog I have ever met!!!  He's just like Eyor (from winnie the pooh)!  So calm and layed back!  I just wish Sadie Mae was half as calm as him!  He swears he's a human!  Sits on the couch just like a human too!  As for Sadie, I guess time will only tell once the vet decides it's time for her to ween off the clomicalm.  I don't know what I'll do if she reverts back to the same severe behavior!  I've even tried contacting the "Dog Wisperer"!!!  AHHHHHHH!!!!  When she's laying on my lap looking up at me w/ those boxer eyes full of love...I just melt and can't imagine being w/out her!


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Cudos to you for trying so hard...i know sooo many people who would have given up by now
Hi Shannon. Please be very careful weening her off of Clomicalm. Antianxiety drugs can be pretty evil (benzodiazepines). I was on them for only 3 months (lorazapam) for anxiety problems I have. I stopped cold turkey, my doctor never told me I had to ween off of them, which would of lessened my withdraw. My withdraw was a living h*ll. Hot/cold flash's, nausea, no appitite, couldnt sleep for 2 weeks (your body will force itself to sleep at this point), very irritable, horrid nightmares, I couldnt even comprehend 5+3 without getting totally confused, tremors/muscle twitching constantly, no energy, depression, sharp electrical noises inside my head, hearing voices, increased anxiety every morning and most of the day, it felt like the rest of the world was zooming by while I was stuck in a slow daze. I thought I was going literally crazy. I even went to the ER because I thought I was dying, they said I was perfectly healthy (Dr's know little of the withdraw from these drugs, they just know how to hand them out like candy). I layed in bed for the first 3 months in a fetal position wishing I would die. I even got rid of my firearms because I became so down on life. My withdraw symptoms lasted about a year. I was poisoned by people that I thought were helping me.

I would imagine the withdraw would be the same with animals being its the same kind of drug. Heres a link to Benzodiazepine withdraw, for humans, Maybe reading this would give you some insight of what goes on with the drug inside of the brain and body, and help you somewhat deal with the problem of getting Sadie Mae off the drugs.

One of the reasons I got Seven (my boxer) is to help me through my withdraw, and because my family has had a few boxers growing up, I just love them! He helped me have a purpose in life again, a reason to get up. He was always there for me with a wagging nub! He saved my life! I owe him my life and the best life a boxer could ever have.

Im glad youre not giving up on Sadie Mae, I know she wouldnt give you up!

I wish you the best, and my heart goes out to you and Sadie Mae. Im sorry if theres no easy fix.
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Hi Shannon and welcome to the forum....Boy you sure have your hands full with Sadie Mae, who is lovely by the way..Have you tried any homeopathic remedies? Not sure if they would be as effective, but being all natural, you wouldn't have the withdrawls as with a perscription med..Here's a  website you may want to check out. Also Dr Fosters & Smith carries a few products that are pretty effective as well
Goodness, that sounds just awful!
I haven't got any advice, but I will pray! :)
Have you ever actually contacted a true cetified canine behaviourist for help with her?  I would go there first. They are not "dog trainers" and I believe that may possibly be the help you need there.  I have a friend who is one and she is amazing.  Have you ever tried any herbal remedies with her like valerian root or st johns wort?  I don't know anything about these personally, but maybe someone else can help.  Do you have a holistic vet possibly to consult with? Maybe a combination of eastern and western medicine will help her.  I wouldn't take my worst enemy to the Dog Whisperer, so I am glad you didn't get thru to him.  

God bless you for trying so very hard with this dog.

Hello all!  Thank you again for trying to help me & Sadie Mae out!  For those that suggested the natural herbal sups...they did absolutaly nothing for her!  Clomicalm has been her miracle drug!
I'm guessing that she'll just have to be on it until the vet feels it's time to ween her off.  I just wish she was all better and didn't need the meds anymore!  I've heard that long term use of it causes permanate kidney and liver damage!!!!  That's what worries me!  But at this point there is no other alternative!  I'm trying to exercise her alot more to get out her pent up energy!  Lord knows she has alot of it!  But I think that every person that owns a boxer knows how that is!  Every time the thought of finding a new home for her enters my brain...I just look at her and know she's right where she's supposed to be!  She's one of my kids!  I will never give up on her!!!  We took her to the doggy park Saturday and she thought she was in heaven!!!  DIRTY but HAPPY!  My boy Jacob was violated though!  HA!  A HUGE great dane decided Jacob would be his "mating" partner even though he's a boy!  Poor Jacob didn't know what to do!  The owner of the GD finally took the dog and left the park because he felt so bad for my boy!
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I'm sorry to hear none of the herbal remedies would help, was hoping that maybe something would, so you might be able to start weaning her off the meds...Exercise of course is always good, course like you stated, Boxers just seem to have energy to burn all the time....Wears me out just watching them  :) Hoping as she gets older perhaps she will calm more and can go with out any meds. I can definitely understand your concern about her taking it long term...Thanks for the update
Welcome!   Sorry you are having so many problems with your baby!  Hopefully someone can help you with something you haven't tried.

We also had a pit/boxer mix and she was the best dog we have ever had.  She seemed to have the best of both breeds and was just an incredible dog!  Welcome to Jacob too!  :D
do you have her on a strict routine? I can only advise what has worked for me. I used to rehab all bully breeds and have had great success doing so.
First thing in the morning make time to take her on a run, or a fast paced walk. No less than one hour. On your half way point start doing different training commands and DO NOT THINK NEGATIVE for any reason. If you anticipate her tearing up your home she will. Keep it light and simple. Picture her sleeping on the sofa instead of shredding it. After returning home, feed her and give meds as usual. then practice for two minutes walking out the door with her in a sit-stay position. and praise her when you return for not freaking out. then as they said previously make it longer and longer. In the event she does make a mess in your trials, don't get upset, just praise her anyways and keep on doing what you were going to do. when you return home from anything take her for a short quick walk. spend time praising her and letting her know you love her.
It just sounds like your dog is insecure and it may sound mean, but she doesn't see you as boss. Ceasar would tell you lay her down and roll her over on her back and make her stay there until she relaxes, at the very moment she does give her a massage. Don't ever come to her in a high pitched squeaky voice as dogs do not respond to anyone that they deem as not the boss. Always be calm and assertive in all situations that you put you and your dog through and your dog will do the same, and respond graciously.
It kinda sounds like your dog needs something to do. She isn't afraid you will not come back, she is upset she cannot go with. Dogs live in packs and are constantly moving. When you take her on walks, put a pack on her and let her carry your water. It gives her a purpose. Once you have her on a strict routine she will anticipate the next objective and always know what is going to happen. THerefore having less and less episodes. I hope what I have said is helpful, and good luck with your ventures!
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