Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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Dogs naturally want to avoid eliminating waste in their living quarters, but a dog that has not been trained, or has been incompletely trained, may have learned bad habits that must be broken. Be sure to let the vet know about any dietary or environmental changes your dog has recently experienced, including change of food, schedule, and the addition or removal of people or animals living in the home. Your vet can also help you isolate and begin treating any special behavioral problems that might be causing your dog's accidents, including a fear of the outdoors, separation anxiety, etc.
Most healthy adult dogs only really need to go a few hours per day, but you want to take your dog out frequently at first to find out when those times are and avoid accidents. Once your figure out your dog's routine, you can schedule outings specifically around those times. Don't restrict your dog's water intake if it is hot, or if your dog gets a lot of exercise. Punishing your dog for accidents is an ineffective approach to housetraining, and could cause the dog anxiety and make the situation worse instead of better. If you have a secure yard, think about installing a doggie door so your dog can let herself out. Hire a dog walker, or make arrangements with a trusted neighbor to come over and give your dog mid-day relief breaks.
Use doggie diapers or a similar sanitary product on your dog at times when you can't be there. Provide piddle pads in a set location for your dog to use if she cannot wait until you get home. This version of How to House Train an Older Dog was reviewed by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS on July 11, 2015. Before you start training, though, you must be sure that what you have is really a behavior problem and not a physical problem.
If you've ruled out medical problems, house-training an adult dog uses the same principles as house-training a puppy, except you have to be even more diligent because you need to do some untraining, too.


Leash him to you in the house so you can monitor his every move during his training period. If you've been consistent, your dog likely will get a good idea of what's expected of him within a couple of weeks, and you can start to give him a little freedom. Fortunately, housetraining an older dog can be achieved fairly quickly if you are patient and persistent with your approach. If you have recently adopted or purchased the dog, call the source and find out as much as you can about the dog's previous habits and upbringing.
If your dog was house-trained and has just recently begun urinating or defecating in the house, or if it is a new dog that seems to have some bad habits, it is important to see your vet and rule out any medical problems before attempting a behavioral intervention.
Figuring out where the dog is doing its business and when can help you isolate problem situations and avoid them in the future. Many experts recommend taking several days off work to establish a consistent routine and housetrain your dog in one go. Even if the dog was already partially housetrained, and you were accustomed to just letting her out, it is important for the retraining process that you actually take her to the desired location, and make sure that she is using it. Take your dog outside frequently, beginning when the dog first wakes up, and then every two hours at first.
If your dog is peeing indoors at night, the problem might be too much water before bedtime.
If your dog is having accidents when you are not around, the best approach might be to crate train her or confine her to a small room when you must be away. You may be able to reduce the frequency of your trips outside, but the ritual of escorting your dog to the elimination site, instructing her to go, and rewarding her when she does so successfully, should be continued for at least two weeks to cement the behavior. Older dogs often just can't hold their waste as long, regardless of how well they are trained, and you may need to make accommodations to help your dog avoid accidents. If you are having trouble identifying why your dog is still eliminating in the house, a consultation with a pet behavior specialist can be extremely helpful for diagnosing and treating the problem.


If you suspect that your dog is eliminating in the house due to anxiety or unpreventable stress, ask your vet if anxiety medication might be right for your dog.
It's not unfair during training to leave him in a crate for four or five hours at a stretch -- assuming, of course, that he's getting his regular daily exercise. One-on-one assistance can pinpoint the problems in your training regimen and get you both on the right track. Feed your dog the amount and type of food recommended for her age and weight at regular intervals throughout the day.
Check with your veterinarian to see if putting the water dish away a few hours before bedtime will be helpful. If a week of consistent elimination training fails to help you and your dog, it is time to consider other solutions. Let your dog out more often when you're home, and pay attention to cues that she needs to go. People never seem shy about punishing their dogs, but too often forget to praise them -- they take it for granted the dog should do the right thing. Keep his area small and let him earn the house, room by room, as he proves his understanding of the house rules. It is also helpful to know if the dog was confined for long periods of time in a particular environment (exclusively outdoors, on a concrete floor at a shelter, in a kennel, etc.) as this can cause surface preferences that you may need to overcome. Older dogs with subclinical kidney disease (in the very early stages) can deteriorate rapidly if water is withheld.



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