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Dog Training For Separation Anxiety
There are several dog training tips & techniques that can help relieve separation anxiety in dogs, and there's bound to be at least one that will help your pooch.
If your puppy or dog gets frantic when you're out of sight, or when you leave him at home, it's upsetting for everyone.
Dogs with separation anxiety can become hysterical and cause damage to your home, and to themselves. Plus, YOU feel terrible about leaving him and frustrated by effects of his 'issues'.
Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to help a dog who's overly anxious or fearful when left alone.
From simple tips such as leaving a radio/TV/DVD/CD on to keep him
company, through behavior modification techniques and the use of dog
separation anxiety medication.... I can help you find the best way to
handle your pups' separation anxiety.
Dealing With Mild Separation Anxiety Dogs
A mild case of 'nerves' can usually be taken care of pretty easily with a few simple (yet special) dog training tips.
In fact, sometimes what's thought to be mild separation anxiety in
dogs, is in fact just a case of boredom and lack or exercise (both
mental and physical).
Learn more about this condition by reading my Dog Separation Anxiety page, which explains more about the causes of dog separation anxiety, and the signs and symptoms of this condition.
your pup isn't a 'Velcro dog', hasn't shown any significant personality
changes, and seems generally more excitable than agitated, there's a
good chance his 'acting-out' and over-excitable behavior is due to
This overload of nervous energy can easily be taken care
of by giving your pup at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise twice a
day, and practicing some basic obedience commands.
Here are a few things to try:
A brisk walk, or a few games of fetch or frisbee can work
wonders and burn off a lot of excess energy! Don't forget the mental
exercise that a short training session can provide. Exercising your pup
before you leave home helps to get rid of any built-up energy and he may
even take a nap while you're gone. Believe me, there's a lot of truth
to the saying "a tired pup is a good pup".
Be sure to head
off boredom by leaving several safe, sturdy toys with long-lasting
play-value to keep your dog busy. A Kong toy (stuffed with peanut butter
and frozen overnight, or for several hours) can keep Fido amused for
quite a while. Interactive toys that dispense treats or make sounds etc.
are also good.
Leaving the radio or TV on when you're out
can make a big difference. The super-quiet house when everyone is gone
can be enough to make Fido stressed. The noise of the TV or radio (low
volume though), can have a calming effect.
Dealing With Moderate to Severe Dog Separation Anxiety
If your pet has more than a mild case of the 'jitters' when you're gone, then you'll need a more structured and comprehensive approach to your training.
It's a good idea to begin dog training for separation anxiety with
some behavior modification work that will lay the groundwork for
reducing your pups' level of anxiety when you're not home.
the following dog training for separation anxiety techniques and tips
over a weekend, or a few days, when you don't have to go to work, or
leave him alone. Do these exercises every day.
Here are some things to try:
Make sure that you exercise your dog for at least 30 mins. twice a day. A brisk walk, or several games of frisbee, fetch or similar works well.
Work on basic obedience commands
by practicing 'sit', 'stay' and 'down' for 10 minutes or so, twice a
day or more. Always use positive training methods with plenty of
treats/praise as rewards. The 'sit-stay' and 'down-stay' commands will
play a useful role in dog training for separation anxiety as they can be
used to encourage your pup to tolerate there being a distance between
you and him.
Obedience work also strengthens your 'alpha' (or
leadership) position in your pups' eyes, and he will be generally more
relaxed knowing that you are in charge. If you would like,
joining a formal basic training class at a local dog obedience school is
another great way to build Fido confidence and add to his socialization
experiences. All very valuable. It can give you some moral support too!
Practice putting space between you and your 'Velcro Dog',
while you're at home. Try barricading him (using a childs' stair-gate
or similar) in another room for short periods of time. Give him one or
two favorite, sturdy toys to keep him amused. Depending on his level of
dog separation anxiety, you may need to start with just a few minutes at
first. Then wait for a lull in the complaining and go and let him out.
Don't make a fuss about freeing him though. Make it seem perfectly
routine. Repeat this several times each day, gradually lengthening the
period of time he's alone/
A big part of dog training for separation anxiety is desensitization.
You can desensitize your pup to your departures by practicing getting
ready to leave, actually leaving and then returning quickly, several
times a day.
You can desensitize your pup this way - Pick
up your keys/purse/jacket etc. and walk around the room/house with them
for a minute of so. Then put them back. Repeat this at intervals until
Fido no longer seems anxious/agitated when you pick up your things (this
could take many repeats and several days, or be accomplished within
hours, a lot depends on the dog).
Progress to actually leaving
home once you've picked up your things...then turn around and come
right back in! DON'T make a fuss of 'good-byes or hellos', just pick up
your stuff and leave, then return. Repeat this as above until Fido seems
less concerned, and gradually lengthen the period of time you spend
outside the house.
How To Say 'Good-bye'!
Take your pup for a brisk walk, or vigorous exercise in the
back yard, followed by a 10 minute training session. This will tire him
out both physically and mentally.
Turn on the radio, TV, DVD or tape you've chosen. That way the house won't be silent once you leave.
Give Fido his toys to keep him busy, and keep his mind off being alone
When it's time To go, just pick up your stuff and leave! Don't make any emotional good-bye's or fuss.
Same goes for your return. when you come home, don't make any big fussy
welcome. Instead, ignore your dog for 5 - 10 minutes and keep
everything as low-key as your departure. After the 10 mins or so, pet
your dog calmly and take him out for some exercise.
More Tips For Dealing With Dog Separation Anxiety
Here are a few last tips to help with your training plan.
you want to know how your pup behaves when you're gone, and to monitor
improvement, set up a video camera/monitor in the room where he spends most
of his time.
Of course, if you live in an apartment, the neighbors
can probably fill you in on this part :)
Think about hiring a petsitter or dog-walker to visit Fido at lunchtime and give him some exercise and companionship. It will break up what surely seems a long day for him.
Or better still, why not see if you can find a friend, relative, neighbor or teenager who would be willing to visit with your pup/dog once or twice a day?
taking your pup to a 'doggie-daycare' once or twice a week to help his
socialization and give him a couple of more interesting, less lonely
If the dog training for separation anxiety techniques given above
don't seem to help, I strongly suggest that you talk with your
veterinarian and seek professional help from a dog behavioral
Severe separation anxiety in dogs can make life
miserable for everyone, and can lead to behavioral/personality changes
and health problems (in Fido, not you!).
Don't let your precious pup become one of the many dogs abandoned, or worse, every year because of separation anxiety problems.
Dog Separation Anxiety Medications
Although it's most definitely not my first recommendation, if all the training tips and techniques above fail to help your pet deal with his fears, then there are medications that can help him relax.