Wednesday, 5th August 2015

Separation Anxiety

Does you pup need help and training to be able to cope with being alone?


Separation anxiety is a commonly used term to describe a dog who gets really stressed when left alone and doesn't know how to cope with being away from his family, he cannot calm down and may panic and injure himself. 


Warning signs to watch out for with your puppy are:


#Your puppy is “clingy” and never lets you out of his sight when you are home

 

#Your puppy follows you everywhere.

 

#Your puppy tries to destroy his crate to get to you.

 

#Your puppy knows when you're getting ready to leave and starts getting anxious


These are signs of an insecure and overly attached pup who needs help and training to be able to cope alone.


 

If your puppy has a couple or more of these symptoms he fits the separation anxiety profile and you need to teach him that it's OK to be alone.


 

Practice being separated first while you're at home.  You'll need a crate to keep him confined indoors away from you. You also need a toy that you can fill up with high value food/treats. Make the toy special by only using this toy when he's in the crate, he doesn't get it any other time.


#1:Put your dog in the crate with the toy, and leave the room. Just casually walk out. In a few minutes, casually come back in and don’t make a fuss over him. Do this a few times a day, gradually increasing the amount of time that he’s left alone in the crate. Once in a while, if your dog is behaving nicely and not whining or making a fuss refill the treat dispensing toy.


You want the dog to learn that good things happen when he’s in the crate.


When you do let him out of the crate, again, don’t make a fuss over him. Let him out, ignore him for a few minutes, and then say hello to him when he’s calm.



Step #1 above is really important to practice thoroughly before you take the next step which is to leave the house.


#2:At this point work out the things that triggers your dogs anxiety. Chances are that he starts getting nervous when you are getting ready to go out. He knows your routine. He knows that there are certain things you do, like putting on your jacket and grabbing your keys, that mean you're about to leave.


You need to desensitise your dog to this routine.



Start with your dog in his crate like you've been practicing. Next, start your “getting ready to leave” routine. Walk out the door without even acknowledging your dog... and immediately walk back in. Give your dog no attention. Put your keys away, take off your jacket, and go about your day.


Repeat this step as much as you can possibly stand it in one weekend. The more you can do it, the better.  You want your dog to get the message that you getting ready to leave is no big deal.


When your dog is okay with you stepping out the door and coming right back in, slowly increase the amount of time before you come in – 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, one minute, five minutes, ten minutes, and so on.



Once your dog is okay with this, then you can work on longer absences of up to an hour or so.



Some Do’s and Don’ts:


#Do leave the TV or radio on when you’re gone, this can often help.

 

#Do exercise your dog beforehand. A tired dog is likely to be less anxious.

 

#Do look into a product called Comfort Zone with DAP, you can get it on Amazon. It releases a chemical that's supposed to be comforting to dogs with anxiety. I haven't personally used it but have heard other trainers talk about using it with success.


#Do NOT make a fuss over your dog when you leave or come home. We want him to understand that you leaving and returning is not a major thing.


Hope this info helps and good luck!



For more tips check out Ian Dunbar's "After You Get Your Puppy" ebook