please help with my dog's anxiety and barking
Almost exactly a year ago i adopted a then 2-year-old female schnauzer mix of unknown history from the local animal shelter. From the beginning she would bark when I left for work in the morning (7-8 hours), but got over that rather quickly. At the time she was crated, and would continue to bark and cry incessantly if I left the house, even if I just stepped outside for a few minutes to work in the yard. I figured it would pass eventually and did all the normal stuff the websites tell you to do--long walk, lots of toys, etc. over time I moved her out of the crate because when she was in the crate she would cry if I left the room. I only tried that a few times, and generally only crated her when i was leaving. over time would leave her out of the crate for short periods when I'd leave and she would still cry, but has never been destructive, so i did away with the crate, since it was really too small for her anyway. A new, larger crate is not an option because I live in a very, very small house and have nowhere I could make room for it.
Over the fall and winter things seemed to improve slightly, according to one of my neighbors who would monitor her noise during the day, but that neighbor moved and the neighbor who replaced her is complaining about the noise and has called the police once.
She does not seem to show what I read is the typical signs of separation anxiety, as she does not need to be with me when I am home. She will roam around or contently lie on her bed while I move around the house or stay put in one room away from her.
Today was the first nice day of the year where I have had a chance to do some gardening, and as soon as I walked out she began howling and continued with only brief interruptions for over an hour. At that point I came in the house and sat down for a minute and she got quiet right away and went in the other room (away from me), but as soon as I walked outside again the howling continued. If i take her out with me I have to tie her to the porch or back door as I do not have a fence in the yard (and cannot install one due to unusual logistics concerning the properly line and rights-of-way) and if I walk around the corner she immediately begins howling. She now does not make a sound when I leave in the morning, but jumps and barks excitedly when I come home. For over a year I have done exactly as I have read I should do and ignored this, refusing to pay attention top her until she gets calm, but the behavior continues everyday. I feel like I have done everything I should be doing--including walking her for over an hour each day. The only thing I have not done is the thing where you leave her for periods of a few minutes then gradually increase it. I just cannot do this. I live alone and work a full time job.
I have always figured I could just wait this out until it stops, but if there are two more noise complaints filed she will be confiscated.
I know there are meditative options, but I am considering that a last resort. please help.