I went through this with Dakota (now 21 months) very recently. As a puppy, she was fine. I crated her whenever I would leave and always gave her a chew toy and her teddy bear (which had a pulsing heartbeat) – at 6mos old she got very sick after coming home from an overnight vet stay in disgusting conditions.
My friends told me crating her would worsen her illness, so I began leaving her out. Dakota has never (ever) been destructive – never potty’d in the house, never chewed furniture or walls, never destroyed my belongings… or anything…. literally, ever!
This past December she started getting sick on car rides – even short rides to the store – every time! I still tried taking her on outings, but would leave her home now when I ran to the store or to a friends house.
One afternoon I came home and found her balled up in the corner shaking FRANTICALLY – at first I thought she had done something bad, but after searching the house I found nothing. This behavior continued – and it broke my heart to see her in this state literally EVERY time I came home. I did a lot of reading and even spoke to an applied animal behaviorist who specialized in separation anxiety. The advice I was given was to stop making my departures such a big deal.
Anytime I would leave the house, I would “baby” Dakota before I left. Seeing her trembling everytime I walked in the door was very upsetting to me, so I thought that by coddling her before I left she would start to learn that when I promised her I was coming back, I meant it. I was told to leave the house without saying a word or even looking at her. I tried that – but it made me feel bad – I had never left the house without telling her to be a good girl & that I love her and will be back soon. I stopped babying her, but I still say good-bye & tell her I will be back every time I leave.
The 2nd piece of advice I was given was about my arrival home – I used to walk in the door & go straight for Dakota, enthusiastically (to the point it was theatrical). I was told to walk in the door, put my keys away, take off my shoes, etc… and just let her come to me, naturally. And NEVER let scolding be the first contact upon arrival (even if the house is completely torn apart). I’ve never had to scold Dakota – but I began using this method of arrival (combined with giving her hugs & kisses & treats AFTER she has come to me) – and it worked very quickly.
For a week or so, I still found her in a corner when I came home, but the trembling had stopped. Finally, one day I came home and she was asleep on the couch – barely lifted her head when I walked in – and fell right back to sleep. She also doesn’t get car sick anymore (that took alot of positive reinforcement!!!) so she gets to ride with me more often, but I think its good to leave them home sometimes and keep them used to you being gone.
Some other things I have tried are classical music cds, calming charms & oils and leaving a sweatshirt or blanket with my scent for her to sleep on. Just like us, each dog has their own unique personality, so what works for one may not be successful for another. I agree with the previous post that it takes time – but be persistent and he should be just fine.
Another thing I wanted to mention was about establishing the chain of command in the house. While yes, dogs are very intelligent – they don’t “just know” who is alpha! If you ever try to introduce an alpha dog into a family with an existing alpha – you’ll find this out right away. Dogs are pack animals – two dominant personalities will most times work out the order (in rare cases they can’t work it out) – but it won’t be worked out without combat to some degree. It is essential YOU establish this with your dog as well. This can be done without hitting or delivering negative punishment to your dog, but (ESPECIALLY with this breed) it is very important you stand firm with your dog and teach him that he is not the king of the castle. He will much better off and respect you more in the long run!