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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.

If 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 boredom.

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.

Try 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.

If 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?

Consider 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 days.

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 specialist.

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.

You can check out my Dog Separation Anxiety Medication page for a selection of the best, safe, natural treatments and products available.

I'd strongly suggest that you try to combine any medication/product that you use with the dog training for separation anxiety tips and techniques above.

They can help to reinforce each other and the resulting 'double-whammy' should help KO your dogs' anxiety!

Related Pages......

› Training For Dog Separation Anxiety

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