2yo rescue pup with separation anxiety and reaching a sticking point in training

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/9l27cj/2yo_rescue_pup_with_separation_anxiety_and/

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Hi all,

I am brand new to reddit, and signed up because my rescue pup has some separation anxiety and I am looking for guidance in working with her. She is a 2yo spayed chihuahua/terrier mix and I've had her for about 5 months. She has a neurological disorder that causes seizures. She is on medication, and is currently having seizures about once a week. I do know that she was adopted as a puppy but was returned to the rescue because her first owner was not able to keep her any longer.

I started to suspect separation anxiety when she began peeing in the crate, so I set up my laptop to film her in the crate when I left. I gave her a kong stuffed with peanut butter, which she happily devoured (and I froze it to make it last longer). Once she finished the peanut butter, she proceeded to circle in the crate, howl and cry, defecate and eat it, and pee. Obviously, I was very upset to see her so distressed.

I reached out to the rescue and her previous foster family, and they indicated this behavior is new. They suggested gating her in a single room instead of crating. This did stop her from defecating and eating it, but she still howled and cried for 2 hours and peed. She also was able to escape a couple of times. She is never destructive, so in that regard I am lucky.

I have begun a desensitization plan like those outlined in Dr. Patricia McConnell's book I'll Be Home Soon, and things are going well. The trouble I am having now is that my pup is fine as long as she has the kong filled with peanut butter, but becomes distressed as soon as she's finished with it. I leave her other toys that she loves to chew/toys with little treats in them, but she doesn't seem to care about them. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to get her over the hump of finishing the kong and staying settled? I don't want to ruin the good progress we have been making.

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