Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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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. Training a puppy or dog can be a most rewarding life experience; it can also be stressful and perplexing. This entry was posted in Dog Training and tagged dog behavior, dog separation anxiety, dog training, separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can result from suffering a traumatic experience, such as a major earthquake or becoming lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Leave Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or cottage cheese ready for him to dig into as soon as you leave. Unfortunately, sometimes separation anxiety just isn’t preventable, especially with an older dog. I have a very hard pup, but she freaks out whenever I leave, even if it is just for 5 minutes. I am moving away with my dog and I'm afraid he will have a hard time leaving my sister's dog.
Due to my obligations with the Air National Guard, this January I will be leaving for school for 6 weeks and I am unable to take my dog with me. My dog has separation anxiety and only shows this behavior when I am the person leaving her. I have a 3 year old dog who we adopted from a friend because he was fighting with his sister so much. My husband and I have a pup, who shows real signs of separation anxiety and appears to be a clingy puppy. I would like to correct this behavior and with her being sensitive would like to make sure I do it in the most effective, correct way. I ended up using a bark collar on my dog in a crate to teach her to be quiet, I have found that vocalizing seems to build the stressed behavior that goes along with separation anxiety.


Seperation anxiety may be preventable with proper socialization and training when a puppyPuppies should be well socialized with other animals and people. When he can do that without exhibiting any signs of distress, add picking up your briefcase.
The key is teaching him that leaving him alone actually means good things — the goal is for him to associate your departure with something positive. See that he receives plenty of physical and mental exercise and that he gets lots of time with you. The problem I have been having with him is I think he may have a bit of a separation anxiety issue. Many times dog like this lack a strong pack leader that they trust and feel comfortable with. 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. We give this video to all of our puppy customers and we never get questions on how to raise a pup.
I recommend the handlers start studying this DVD right away even though you won’t use some of this training material for several months (usually not until the pup is 4 to 6 months old).
When you bring your puppy out of alone time, to socialize with the family, make sure that you only get him when he is quietly playing with his toys. In fact, a diagnosis of separation anxiety in no way precludes a healthy and happy existence for your dog. You’ll continue adding actions, in baby steps, until you can leave the house for a period of an hour or more without consequence.
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. Old dogs with medical problems such as loss of hearing or sight, painful conditions and cognitive dysfunction may become more anxious in general, and seek out the owner's attention for security and relief.


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.
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. In time, a daily routine should be established where the dog learns to lie on its mat after each exercise, play and training session to either nap or play with its own toys. Audible cues such as a radio, CD or TV, odors such as aromatherapy candles or a piece of clothing with the owner's scent, and a comfortable bed can help to promote a relaxed response since they are associated with relaxation and owner presence (non-departure).
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.
Even with the best of efforts some dogs will still pick up on "cues" that the owner is about to depart and react. Train your pet to associate these cues with enjoyable, relaxing situations (rather than the anxiety of impending departure). You may need to begin with food lure exercises, starting with a down-stay and gradually increasing the time and the level of relaxation at each session. 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.
Reward with a quiet play or attention session, perhaps coming back and giving a gentle massage or tummy rub. In this way the desired behavior is being shaped and reinforced with the very attention that the dog craves.
This may be because the dog has learned to relax and enjoy the car rides, without receiving constant physical attention and contact.



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