Lupin the deaf Dalmatian became overwhelmingly destructive due to separation anxiety

This is the story of a nervous, deaf Dalmatian who got into a spot of bother due to extreme separation anxiety leading to extreme destruction to the tune of £18,000 worth! The dog’s name is Lupin and he is all over the Internet in news media stories. I thought I would jump onto the bandwagon but I guess this page will be swamped out by other more important websites.

It is a story of the difficulties with leaving dogs alone at home as it causes separation anxiety, which can be very acute. Lupin is two years old and his rampaging destruction when left alone lead his owners, Kelly-Ann Lee and Emilien Borne to consider giving him up to a shelter.

Destructive Lupin due to separation anxiety
Destructive Lupin due to separation anxiety. This is a montage by MikeB from images from Caters News Agency.

They got him to keep their other Dalmatian company. Initially he was well-behaved but contracted canine parvovirus and spent a lot of time in veterinary intensive care.

When he left the veterinary clinic, he was cared for at home by Lee and Borne. They had to work shifts to feed him and nurse him back to health. This created an enormous bond between the couple and Lupin which is a good thing in one way but a very bad thing in terms of separation anxiety in this instance.

After he recovered, he became very reliant upon them being around and would become very agitated when left alone. His deafness must be a factor too as it probably makes him feel isolated more easily. I mean Lupin is susceptible to separation anxiety due to his deafness. Dalmatians are known to have an increased risk of deafness compared to other breeds. This type of deafness is inherited, with the function of one or both ears impaired. This must be an inherited health issue due to selective breeding.

Lee said:

He was fixated on the pair of us, and whenever we were out of sight it would cause him to panic and go into his extreme destructive mode.

It got to the point where I had said to Emilien that I couldn’t do it any longer, if it wasn’t for the fact that we had nursed the dog back to health we might have actually given up.

£18,000 worth of damage is something which cannot carry on. They would return home to find that Lupin had chewed through an entire sofa, the washing machine door had been destroyed and he had even chewed into a breezeblock wall which can’t have done him any good. The laminated kitchen floor was ripped up. Pot plants, shoes, cushions and curtains were damaged and unsafe.

Lee added:

It [had) completely dictated our lives; everything revolved around Lupin. We even missed my sister’s engagement party because of not being able to leave the dog alone.

And it put an awful strain on their lives. The couple called in experts from Channel 4’s show Dog Academy. They devised a strict plan which soon benefited Lupin and curbed his destructive behaviour.

Lee said:

We can see him now when we are away from home on the dog camp. He will just entertain himself. It’s been a complete 360-degree turn and we are now back to living a happy life.

We don’t know what the advice was but This Dog’s Life website tells us that you’ve got to be patient and you shouldn’t yell at your dog or punished them which might be what you feel like doing. In brief, you might try the following:

  • Wear your dog out before you leave both mentally and physically. You might take your dog for a walk and engage in interactive puzzles to wear them out mentally.
  • And when you leave you should try and mask the fact that you are leaving i.e. turn off the normal leaving cues.
  • You can desensitise a dog by leaving them alone slowly. That means you leave them alone initially for a very short time and then you build up.
  • You might get help from friends and professionals which means getting in a dog sitter for a while who might be a friend.
  • Avoid making things worse by turning to shock collars which I think are horrible. There is no quick fix and a shock collar is a kind of punishment.
  • You may consider keeping them in a restricted area. To get them to use the area you have to use positive reinforcement by making it a fun place to be.
  • Provide toys and treats that a dog loves and that keeps them busy.
  • You may consider medication such as approved drug treatments for separation anxiety such as Clomicalm and Reconcile.
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