Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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When finding a solution, keep in mind that as the dog’s trainer (or animal behaviorist), finding the function of the behavior is important. For example, the Dog Silencer Pro detects barks and sends a high-pitched sound that only dogs can hear. Some dogs bark whenever they are exposed to novel or unusual stimuli whether they are sounds, sights or odors. Online reviewers report that some dogs learn to bark in tones and frequencies the collar does not detect. Effective crate training techniques when your dog is first obtained should decrease the dog's anxiety when it is left alone in its crate (see our handout on 'Crate Training in Dogs'). Providing your dog with a consistent and predictable daily routine (see our handout on 'Training Dogs – Enrichment, Predictability and Scheduling') can help your dog to be calmer and more settled through the day. Also, by providing predictable consequences, you can insure that calm and quiet behavior is reinforced and that you never reinforce attention seeking behavior (which may escalate to barking).
When you obtain a new dog, having a second dog may greatly reduce distress vocalization at times when your dog cannot be with family members. If your dog's excessive barking problem has been going on for some time, he may be suffering from separation anxiety. However, the barking becomes problematic when it gets too loud, too frequent, or will not stop on command. In order to train the dog to quiet down on cue, you must find an effective means of quieting the dog, which should be preceded with a verbal command.


Your dog will probably not understand what you want if you just loudly tell your pet to 'be quiet', especially if silence does not follow the verbal command.
In fact, yelling may just add to the noise, anxiety and conflict, thereby encouraging your dog to bark even more. One of the most practical techniques for teaching a dog to cease barking on command, is to teach barking on cue. Numerous repetitions allow the dog to associate the word 'bark' or 'speak' with the action. Dogs that bark on command can then be taught to turn off the barking by removing the cue or stimulus, and giving a 'hush' or 'quiet' command just before the barking subsides. It can be difficult or impractical to teach a dog to be 'quiet' on command if the barking cannot be predicted or 'turned on', or if it is too intense. Another method to teach a "quiet" command is to wait until your dog is barking, for example in response to a doorbell. When the dog is quiet (which should happen because dogs cannot sniff and bark at the same time) you can praise your dog, say 'good quiet' and give the treat. Alternately, distraction or remote punishment devices (see below) can be used to disrupt the barking. One of the most effective means of interrupting barking and ensuring quiet is a remote leash and head halter. A pull on the leash disrupts the dog and closes the mouth, which should also coincide with a verbal command such as 'quiet' or 'hush'.


By first releasing the dog, and then giving a reinforcer such as praise or food if the dog remains quiet, you can reinforce the quiet behavior.
Soon the dog should associate the closed mouth and the verbal command with the absence of noise, and begin to stop barking when given the verbal prompt alone. However, in some cases, the household situation in which the dog resides may make it extremely difficult to correct completely or sufficiently. Even a small amount of barking could disturb a sleeping baby or upset neighbors (particularly in apartments or townhouses). When trying to resolve barking problems, the motivation for the barking behavior is an important component. Excessive levels of punishment can increase anxiety and further aggravate many forms of barking, while mild punishment merely rewards the behavior by providing attention. Surgical debarking is a drastic and often permanent method of decreasing the sound of the barking. Devocalization may need to be considered when owners are confronted with the option of immediately resolving a barking problem or having to give up their pet. However, all attempts at behavior modification should be continued to try and address the underlying motivation for barking and perhaps result in a permanent solution.



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Comments to «My dog barks when left alone»

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