Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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Nothing can cut the enjoyment out of a walk out with your dog like having your dog go berserk when they see another dog! If you dog barks – stop the treats and just try to get past the other dog as quickly as you can.
One of the most beautiful things about dogs is that no matter how old they are (you can teach an old dog new tricks) or what their past experiences have been, they learn through association. Dog aggression is a very complex issue, and there is no way we could cover all the possible reasons and solutions that a dog might bark, lunge, hackle, growl or generally go bananas when they see another dog when on leash.
You will need to find your JRT’s ‘fail safe’ distance where he can see other dogs but not react to them. Along with this you need to find a local behavioural trainer who can help by organising for you to meet with some friendly dogs so that you can practise parallel walking, circling, and brief meetings. Once your dog can look at another dog without reacting, teach him to turn and sit facing you when you stop on a walk. There may be as many reasons for why dogs bark at other dogs while on leash as there are breeds of dog, but the end result is the same – and not fun for you or the other dog and person being barked at! Ideally, try to stay as far away from the other dog (cross the street for example) so that they are less stimulated, and BEFORE they get close enough to the other dog to start even thinking about barking (watch for staring, hackling, or growling), give them something to focus on that they really really really like, that’s even BETTER than their slightly fuzzy dog-memory of how good the adrenaline felt the last time the saw a dog and barked.


Crossing the street or turning to go the other way are helpful methods to head off an uncontrollable barkfest.
But is a safe method to try, and you’re not going to make their leash-aggression worse as long as you don’t reward the dog after they bark! Very often with young or less-socialized dogs, barking at other dogs on walks isn’t leash aggression at all, rather excitement or anxiety about not knowing what to do. Many small dogs have this problem because they have been unable to find out for themselves that large size alone need not be terrifying.
Your dog has discovered that lunging and barking usually makes the other dogs go away — it has become an important coping strategy.
Barrier frustration is distinct from aggression in that the canine is friendly toward other dogs when he is off leash, but is reactive when he is restrained by a barrier. Reward your dog for staying in his sit, or for maintaining eye contact with you, while the other dog passes by.
Some of the most common reasons that dogs bark on walks are (1) to to alert you another animal or person is coming (as if you didn’t see them too!), (2) to let you know something is making him or her uncomfortable and that more distance would feel better, or (3) to communicate something else, like to go say hello to the other pooch. Just like we’ll work a little harder for $100 than $10, a high value treat will increase your chances of trumping the desire to bark!


But we’ve found that this one method has helped us and our friends with many leash-reactive dogs, and we hope it will help you too! In the case of barrier frustration, training should start as soon as possible, as reactions toward other dogs can intensify over time.
Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can begin to expose him to strange dogs while on leash, either at a dog park or in your neighborhood.
When you first begin, your dog will likely be nervous when he sees the other dog and he may only turn toward you for a moment, to get his treat, before looking back at the other dog.
Treat your dog when he walks next to you; if he pulls on the leash or crosses in front of you, stop walking. We’ve discovered one method that works quickly and easily for many treat-motivated dogs! Walk toward the other dog at an angle or perpendicular to the other dog, rather than head on.




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