Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

Personal protection puppy training
Understanding what your dog is saying can give you a lot of useful information, such as when your dog is spooked and nervous about what is going on, or when your dog is edgy and might be ready to snap at someone.
To help you, I have created a sort of visual version of a Berlitz phrase book to allow you to interpret the eight most important messages your dog is sending to you.
If the dog has detected something of interest, or something unknown, these signals communicate that he is now alert and paying attention while he is assessing the situation to determine if there is any threat or if any action should be taken.
By taking this stance they risk ending up with a fearful, timid dog that may become aggressive in later life, (FACT)“95% of all reported dog bites are fear related”.
The First Weeks are CriticalPuppies, especially from birth through to 16 weeks must be exposed to a variety of experiences including people, places, and meeting other vaccinated dogs (this is perfectly safe). There are many activities and places to take dogs, without endangering their health or their lives, it is vital that you take the time to expose your new pup to as many of these situations as possible. GeneticsHaving said all that, genetics as well as socialisation ie Nature and Nurture has a major impact on your dog’s ability to cope successfully with life.
I was asked to look at his temperament after a brilliant senior veterinary nurse called Helen managed to convince the owners to give the dog up, with a view to re-homing. So despite a traumatic start “the abuse started at eight weeks of age ” he managed overcome this and became one of the nicest and most loving dogs I have ever owned. Many thanks go to Helen who impressed me so much that I decided to help her in her quest for more knowledge and understanding of the behaviour of dogs She shadowed me in my work for many many months. Unfortunately not all dogs are so genetically sound. Even with an ideal environment, early socialisation and the perfect owner.
This may not be enough to help these hereditary unstable dogs. Their genetic temperament can and will determine how much improvement in personality and social skills the dog can achieve. I have written an article about the impact Breeders have on our dogs. The dog pictured above is a young staffie i assessed under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. She was six months old when taken into custody and put in solitary confinement for her actions. I assessed this poor dog for temperament and aggression.
The type of owner or trainer that believes that the fearful dog should be thrust headlong into every situation, and that will desensitise and cure them is sadly disillusioned. The old trick of throwing a child into a swimming pool in the hope it would quickly learn to swim, is now hopefully outdated and outmoded.


If you do not possess the above traits, it may be better for both of you to separate, and the dog be re homed with someone that is hopefully experienced with this type of problem, and who has the necessary temperament to deal with a dog that can at the best of times exasperating, and at the worst infuriating. Distance LearningTo gain and improve a dog’s confidence and reduce the level of anxiety and timidity you need to use a consistent, gentle, positive, and measured approach. Firstly you must work out the distance where your dog feels fearful of a given situation, let’s say it is another dog, then you need to approach the dog with yours on a lead, do not tighten the lead as this will convey your own anxiety to your dog. Watch your dog’s body language as soon as you see any submissive, aggressive or fearful reaction then stop and back up until the dog is relaxed again.
Once you have found the distance that allows the dog to relax then either treat or play with your dog using a favoured toy.
Move in stages a little closer to whatever is causing the aggression or fear keep talking and reassuring the dog, you should be aiming to stay at a distance that allows the dog to feel reasonably relaxed.
Play or Training TherapyThere is an exception to this, if the dog has been recently frightened say by fireworks, you can actually act very blase and go immediately outside and play with toys such as balls or Frisbees, even a training session. Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them.
Such a dog is unconcerned and unthreatened by any activities going on in his immediate environment and is usually approachable. A dog will generally give these signals when he is directly facing the individual who is threatening him. These signals are designed to pacify the individual who is of higher social status or whom the dog sees as potentially threatening, in order to avoid any further challenges and prevent conflict. The canine socialisation period up to 16 weeks means they should be mixed with other dogs but more importantly other PUPPYS. See picture left The abuse and injuries suffered by this poor little dog, includes his legs being fractured and snapped out of the hip socket, Front shoulder plate broken. He even became a  PAT dog and was the only dog that was allowed into "Shooting "Star" The children's Hospice in Greater London.
Just sometimes our police and the law should take into consideration the age and circumstances of the dog when deciding to prosecute.


Crashing headlong into circumstances the dog cannot cope with will normally produce similar results. You should also give careful consideration as the whether you want, or indeed have the time the stamina and the patience to treat and work with a dog that has irrational fears and phobias. If you try to speed up the process beyond the capability of the dog, then you will go backwards and your dog’s new found confidence will plummet.
What we are looking for is a positive association whereby the dog sees the feared object which could be anything from a vacuum cleaner to a bus. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures.
This set of signals may be used as a sort of "punctuation mark" to indicate that any previous rough behaviour was not meant as a threat or challenge. My dog is taking training from Cali K9 San Francisco and I am very much happy with the results.
There may be a wealth of different reasons for a dog to offer postures like that and depends on such variables as the dog's early development and socialization history, current situation and potential threats. As a matter of interest dogs will not take food when they are fearful or stressed. This is instinctual as the flight mode kicks in, your dog does not want a full stomach when it may need to run away. Irrespective of whether it is another dog, place, or object gradual desensitisation should work for all. Yes you can create a less fearful and anxiety ridden dog, but only to the level that the dog can sustain. This can also be used as an indicator of the dog’s state of mind even if there are no outward signs of distress.



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