Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

Personal protection puppy training
Separation anxiety can result from suffering a traumatic experience, such as a major earthquake or becoming lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Unfortunately, sometimes separation anxiety just isn’t preventable, especially with an older dog. More than half of my clients bring dogs into their lives from shelters or other situations in which the dog’s history is unclear.  And a fairly large percentage of those have some sort of behavioral issue, such as fear-based aggression, barrier frustration (on leash or behind doors or gates) or, the subject of today’s post, separation anxiety.
However, just because after you leave for work your dog tears up furniture, soils the carpet, or barks all day, it does not automatically mean he’s suffering from separation anxiety; he could just be bored out of his mind or under-exercised.
I teach people how to effectively train their dogs by clearly demonstrating that every interaction counts when training a dog to come when called, for example, or instructing a puppy how to best get along in life.
This entry was posted in Dog Training and tagged dog behavior, dog separation anxiety, dog training, separation anxiety. Seperation anxiety may be preventable with proper socialization and training when a puppyPuppies should be well socialized with other animals and people.
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With over 600 hospitals and 1,800 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, we strive to give your pet the very best in medical care. In fact, a diagnosis of separation anxiety in no way precludes a healthy and happy existence for your dog. A well adjusted puppy should do well either alone or with the family and will be less likely to have seperation anxiety in the future. Some dogs will attempt to escape or become extremely anxious when confined, so that destructiveness or house-soiling when a dog is locked up in a crate, basement, or laundry room, may be due to confinement or barrier anxiety and associated attempts at escape. In other situations fear or anxiety due to an external event (construction, storms, fireworks) may trigger destructive behaviors.
Perhaps the best way to determine if the behaviors are due to the anxiety associated with the owner's departure is to make an audiotape or movie clip of the behavior when the dog is alone. In effect, you should initiate enough regular interactive sessions and provide enough play and attention so that when each session is over, your pet is prepared to settle down and relax. At this point, new exploratory and chew toys can be given so that the pet has novel and motivating toys on which to focus when it is time to settle. With separation anxiety you must reinforce the pet for settling down, relaxing and showing some independence, while attention seeking and following behaviors should never be reinforced. Focus on having your pet in a settled down, or lying on its bed or mat (or crate) before you give any reward.


You can begin by training your pet to go to the area and gradually shape longer stays and more relaxed responses in the area before rewards are given. On the other hand, know your pets' limits; your dog must be calm and settled when released so as to avoid reinforcing crying or barking behavior. In addition, the pet must learn to accept progressively longer periods of inattention and separation while the owners are at home. If you can prevent your dog from observing any of these anxiety inducing pre-departure cues, or if you can train your dog that these cues are no longer predictive of departure, then the anxiety is greatly reduced. Train your pet to associate these cues with enjoyable, relaxing situations (rather than the anxiety of impending departure). Once the pet will stay in your presence, begin to walk away and return beginning with just a few feet for a few seconds and progressing over time to leaving the room for 30 minutes or longer. Remember however, that attention at other times, especially on demand, encourages the dog to follow and pester rather than stay in its bed and relax. A head halter can be particularly useful throughout this training to insure that the pet remains in position and immediately responds to the command.



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