Canine separation anxiety is a neurological distress response to various issues including separation from the person to whom the dog is attached. These dogs suffer and require effective behavioral management and medical intervention.
• Pre-departure anxiety
• Excessive salivation
• Whining, barking .
• Urinating and/or defecating indoors
• Destroying household property
• Escape behaviors
• Exaggerated greeting behaviors
• Seeking continuous contact with owners
• Rarely spends time alone
• Loss of interest in food or water if owner is absent
• Self mutilation or excessive licking
Key to diagnosis of separation anxiety is that the behavior only occurs during the absence of the owner(s)! The effectiveness of treatments varies due to age, duration of behaviors and owner’s willingness to adapt.
Note there are NO “quick fixes”.
Dogs associate specific activities with the impending departure of the owner, such as picking up keys. Ideally, treatments are implemented over a period of a week or so based on your dog’s response.
1. Recondition your cues at home: pick up your keys and go to bed, grab your jacket and sit down to a meal.
2. A dog that is lacking exercise is more likely to be stressed. Take your dog for a long walk every morning and evening . A well-exercised dog is a happy dog.
3. When it is time to leave, just leave! Ignore your dog for 20-30 minutes before you leave so he does not feel insecure when the attention is withdrawn. Ensure departures and arrivals are as uneventful as possible to avoid overstimulating the dog.
4. Prepare a “special, bye-bye” bone such as Kong stuffed with peanut butter. Only offer it when you leave. When you arrive home, pretend your dog does not exist for at least 15 minutes to allow him to calm himself. Pick up the treat and put it away so he looks forward to his next “goodbye” treat.
5. A dog who is confined to a crate, when properly introduced, cannot damage your home. The crate will act as a safe, comfortable den where the dog can relax and reduce anxiety. Leave a few “special chew items” inside the crate
6. Tune a radio to a talk station so your dog hears human voices.
7. With most dogs, the hardest time is immediately after you leave. Reshape your dog’s behavior through reinforcement training. Leave your dog out of his crate, put your coat on, walk out the door, then return immediately. Ignore him until he settles, then greet him calmly. Tell him to sit and reward with a treat. Continue practicing leaving and returning, gradually increasing the amount of time you are absent. Always greet your dog calmly and command him to sit before offering a reward which can be a treat, pat, praise, or positive eye contact.
8. Establish your leadership. A strong leader calms a dog and makes him feel safe. If your dog believes he is the leader, his inability to control your leaving causes him anxiety. Obedience training is best to establish yourself as a strong leader.
9. Don’t reward barking, jumping or other hysterical behavior with any attention, not even eye-contact. Only reward calm, quiet and non-dependent behaviors.
10.Do not give your affection away for free. Petting your dog unconsciously or when he nudges you for attention will not build his self-confidence to overcome his anxiety.
In severe cases of separation anxiety psychotropic medication may be recommended by your vet or behaviorist in conjunction with behavior modification.
Contact Lori Carman and her team of Dream Dog experts today to see how positive reinforcement dog training can help your dog overcome separation anxiety and so much more! Call 760-899-7272 or visit www.dreamdogs.com