How To Train Your Dog To Overcome Separation Anxiety
- October 15, 2021
Their dogs might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape.When a dog’s problems are accompanied by other distress behaviors, such as drooling and showing anxiety when his pet parents prepare to leave the house, they aren’t evidence that the dog isn’t house trained or doesn’t know which toys are his to chew.Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people they’re attached to.Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors.Usually, right after a guardian leaves a dog with separation anxiety, the dog will begin barking and displaying other distress behaviors within a short time after being left alone—often within minutes.Some dogs urinate or defecate when left alone or separated from their guardians.If a dog urinates or defecates in the presence of his guardian, his house soiling probably isn’t caused by separation anxiety.A dog who has separation anxiety might bark or howl when left alone or when separated from his guardian.This kind of barking or howling is persistent and doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything except being left alone.If a dog’s chewing, digging and destruction are caused by separation anxiety, they don’t usually occur in his guardian’s presence.A dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from an area where he’s confined when he’s left alone or separated from his guardian.If a dog’s pacing behavior is caused by separation anxiety, it usually doesn’t occur when his guardian is present.Why Do Some Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety?An abrupt change in schedule in terms of when or how long a dog is left alone can trigger the development of separation anxiety.For example, if a dog’s guardian works from home and spends all day with his dog but then gets a new job that requires him to leave his dog alone for six or more hours at a time, the dog might develop separation anxiety because of that change.Medical Problems to Rule Out First.Incontinence Caused by Medical Problems.There are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling.Other Behavior Problems to Rule Out.Some dogs may urinate during greetings, play, physical contact or when being reprimanded or punished.Please see our articles, Destructive Chewing, for more information about these problems.What to Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety.To develop this kind of association, every time you leave the house, you can offer your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food that will take him at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish.In these cases, it’s crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.Because treatment must progress and change according to the pet’s reactions, and because these reactions can be difficult to read and interpret, desensitization and counterconditioning require the guidance of a trained and experienced professional.One treatment approach to this “predeparture anxiety” is to teach your dog that when you pick up your keys or put on your coat, it doesn’t always mean that you’re leaving.You can do this by exposing your dog to these cues in various orders several times a day—without leaving.After your dog doesn’t become anxious when he sees you getting ready to leave, you can move on to the next step below.If your dog is less anxious before you leave, you can probably skip the predeparture treatment above and start with very short departures.To get started, train your dog to perform out-of-sight stays by an inside door in the home, such as the bathroom.You can also work on getting your dog used to predeparture cues as you practice the stay.By the time you start working with your dog at exit doors, he shouldn’t behave anxiously because he has a history of playing the “stay game.”.Start with absences that last only last one to two seconds, and then slowly increase the time you’re out of your dog’s sight.When you’ve trained up to separations of five to ten seconds long, build in counterconditioning by giving your dog a stuffed food toy just before you step out the door.During your sessions, be sure to wait a few minutes between absences.After each short separation, it’s important to make sure that your dog is completely relaxed before you leave again.Otherwise, he won’t learn to feel calm and comfortable in situations that upset him.This means that during treatment for separation anxiety, your dog cannot be left alone except during your desensitization sessions.Many dogs suffering from separation anxiety are okay when left in a car.In addition to your graduated absences exercises, all greetings (hellos and goodbyes) should be conducted in a very calm manner.The amount of time it takes for your dog to relax once you’ve returned home will depend on his level of anxiety and individual temperament.Crate training can be helpful for some dogs if they learn that the crate is their safe place to go when left alone.If he shows signs of distress (heavy panting, excessive salivation, frantic escape attempts, persistent howling or barking), crate confinement isn’t the best option for him.Be sure to provide them whenever you leave your dog alone.Contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of great skills to learn and games to play together. .
Here's the Only Real Way to Train a Dog with Separation Anxiety
You have to make the right accommodations at first—services like a pet sitter, a specialized trainer, or a groomer who comes to your house.I’ve often seen well-meaning owners struggle with separation anxiety training.Set up a camera (you can use a free app like Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, or a wireless device like a Nest) and leave the house.Start a stopwatch as you close the door, and watch your device as you walk far enough away so that your dog cannot hear or see you.Watch for pacing, circling, whining, barking, howling, digging, yawning, jumping on the door, urination/defecation, lip licking and other indications of discomfort or fear.Continue to watch for 5 to 10 minutes so you see the full range of your dog’s behavior while you are away and take detailed notes.For example, if my dog’s panic began the moment I walked out the door, I might start with the steps below on day 1.Even if your dog is able to be alone for a few minutes before they begin to panic, you can be sure they’re 100% aware that you’re leaving before you’ve stepped out the door.Part of getting your dog comfortable with your absence is desensitizing them to all the little things you do before you walk out the door.In most cases, you will want to hold off adding a new cue until you’ve had a couple of days with the previous one.Unfortunately this makes it impossible to predict how quickly a dog can overcome their isolation distress or separation anxiety.One 4-month old Aussie pup I worked with, who was literally climbing the walls when left alone, learned quickly.He couldn’t be left alone for longer than six minutes after a month of training.In 95% of the separation anxiety/isolation distress dogs I work with, training is not a straight line.Although dogs respond differently to this training depending on their plasticity and level of sensitivity, it is effective at helping a majority.Be patient and stick with your training and, if you are struggling to move forward, a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist, Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT), or a veterinarian can help. .
Separation Anxiety in Dogs: How to Help a Puppy With Separation
Separation anxiety (SA) can be one of them.So, don’t dismiss this as something to worry about later, prevent puppy separation anxiety before it starts.What is Dog Separation Anxiety?Whether in a puppy or an adult dog, separation anxiety is when your dog exhibits extreme stress from the time you leave him alone until you return.Puppy training, socialization, crate training, and teaching your puppy how to enjoy being alone all contribute.What Are the Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?Here are some behaviors your dog may exhibit:.What Causes Separation Anxiety in Puppies and Dogs?Because there are so many potential triggers for SA, it’s essential to work on prevention and start treatment at the first sign.What Can I Do About My Dog’s Separation Anxiety?The Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic states the goal of treatment is “to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone.” So some of the treatments are the same as the preventative measures and may already be part of your puppy’s routine.Crate Training.It’s an important training tool and the solution for many puppy challenges.Watch your puppy’s behavior to see if he settles right down or if the anxiety symptoms ramp up.It’s to keep him and your house safe while you teach him to enjoy being alone.You can also make your departure routine less distressing by desensitizing your puppy to the signs you’re about to go out.Exercise can’t cure SA, but it certainly can help treat and prevent it.Teaching a solid stay is another way to battle excessive attachment.Start with short lengths of time, and once your puppy can stay for several minutes, you can begin to leave the room.It’s also important to play it cool when you leave or return to your home.Plus, if you return home to damage or accidents, don’t punish your dog.Separation anxiety in puppies and dogs isn’t always preventable, despite your best efforts. .
6 Tips To Help Dog Separation Anxiety
You come home from a long day at work to a spinning, jumping whirlwind of energy.Don’t make a big deal when you leave for the day or when you return.Depending on the severity of the dog anxiety, you may need to practice the rule for five minutes or up to an hour before you leave and when you get back.Say goodbye to your dog long before you leave.Instead, let your dog know that everything is going to be okay by projecting the confident energy of a pack leader.A calm and assertive leader can ease separation anxiety in dogs.Leave your dog alone for five minutes, then extend the time to twenty minutes, then an hour.Studies have now shown that audiobooks can have a calming effect on dogs and help to lessen their separation anxiety. .
If you decide to crate train your dog make sure you put time into conditioning her to absolutely LOVE being in the crate before you leave her in there for the day.Performing behaviors on cue for food treats is a great way to build self-confidence in your dog.In fact, you should make this the only place where she gets this kind of attention (at least while going through this program).The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break this bond a bit.This is hard for some people to do, but remember, you are trying to reduce the anxiety your dog feels when she is left alone and this is the first step.Put your dog in a ‘down’ and then start slowly increasing the time she must stay there before you give a food treat.Alone Time.Put your dog in a room or crate (if she loves her crate), shut the door, and leave the room for short bits of time.Slowly increase the time you are out of the room, starting with a few seconds and building up to 15-30 minutes.Give her a stuffed Kong toy, or other chewy that takes time to consume, before you leave.In fact, it would help your dog if you ignore her for 15 minutes before you leave and for 15 minutes after you get home.List all the things that you do when preparing to leave the house that makes your dog anxious.After you can leave the room for 10-15 minutes and she does not become upset, begin leaving the house.Tell her “go to your bed”, give her the food stuffed toy, and walk out.Once you can go outside and stay there for 5-10 minutes you will have to start adding other cues, like the car.Do this several times.If she ever becomes upset at a certain time away, simply back up and stay away for a shorter time period.While working through this program it will help if your dog is never left alone for long periods of time. .
Dealing with Dog Separation Anxiety
One of the most common phrases used by owners to describe a dog that appears stressed when the owner leaves home—or just leaves the room—is separation anxiety in dogs.There is true separation anxiety, and there is simulated separation anxiety, in which the dog behavior appears to be separation anxiety but it is, in fact, a learned behavior.Simulated separation anxiety is often manifested when the dog lacks leadership as well as self-control.True separation anxiety, on the other hand, causes the dog to experience real stress during the absence of his owner.Simulated separation anxiety is fairly easy to overcome with a gradual approach, slowly increasing the amount of time spent in a crate —when you are at home as well as away—consistent obedience training, proper amounts of exercise, and strong leadership.We make a big fuss when we leave or come home, and in doing so we reward the dog’s concern with our absence, provoking in him even more stress every time we leave.All too often a puppy taken from the litter begins to cry when left alone.This is a big change for the pup, they no longer have the pack they were born with.From the beginning, we need to teach our pup to be quiet and settle down for increasing periods of time.We need to teach patience and calmness and reward that instead.Teach the pup to accept the crate.I believe much of the cure for separation anxiety comes from obedience training and discipline.This approach lets your dog know what is expected of him, helping his good behavior to become a habit.Teach your dog to sit at the door, lie down, and stay while you go out of sight for increasing periods of time in your own house.Crate Training to Avoid dog Separation Anxiety.When you are home, have your dog familiar with being in the crate.These work because your dog’s mind is stimulated while attempting to remove treats from a toy, which then relaxes his mind, and he sleeps.Come back and wait until he is quiet, and then ask him to wait in the crate while you open the door.If you feel one action, such as putting on a certain pair of shoes, picking up your car keys, going to a certain door, brings about the beginning of stress, then do that action and do not leave.Covering the crate with a sheet when you leave gives the feeling of a den and your dog may like the crate better this way.Were you able to rehabilitate your dog from separation anxiety? .
Separation Anxiety: How to Keep Your Dog Calm When You Leave
A dog with severe anxiety won't be distracted by even the tastiest treats.They may start to get nervous when they see signs you're about to leave, like putting on your shoes or picking up your keys.Only you can tell if your dog is ready to be left alone for longer periods.Gradually build up the time until you can leave the house for a few minutes. .
How to Deal with Puppy Separation Anxiety
If your puppy scratches at the door, cries or barks excessively, goes to the bathroom in the house and/or chews things every time your family leaves the house, he may be suffering from separation anxiety.Why some puppies develop separation anxiety and some don’t is not fully understood.Crate train your puppy.Gradually increase the time crated.Start leaving your puppy alone in his crate.You don’t want to make him excited.Try to make sure someone in your family is home as much as possible.True separation anxiety is defined as destructive or disruptive behavior by a puppy, including tearing up the room, constant barking and whining, or inappropriate elimination when he is left by himself. .
Teach Your Dog It's OK To Be Left Alone
Training your dog to be left alone.Learning to be left alone is an important part of your dog's training and will help prevent your dog from ever becoming anxious when by themselves - also known as separation anxiety.Follow the simple steps below and gradually increase the time you leave your dog alone.Continue this routine, moving progressively further away and for longer periods of time.If your dog reacts or moves, don't reward them and never punish them - instead go back to the previous stage.Progress the training and start exiting the room before returning. .
Separation Anxiety in Dogs
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.How do I know if my dog's problem is due to separation anxiety?They become extremely anxious and show distress behaviors such as vocalization, destruction, or house soiling when separated from the owners.Separation anxiety might be prevented by ensuring that puppies have scheduled times where they learn to spend time alone in their own crates or beds.Dogs with separation anxiety vocalize, become destructive, or eliminate beginning either as the owners prepare to leave or shortly after departure.Destructive activity is often focused on owner possessions, or at the doors where owners depart or the dog is confined, and most often occurs shortly after departure.Dogs that eliminate when owners are at home may not be completely house trained or may have a medical problem.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.In other words, you should use the very rewards that your dog is seeking to teach independent behavior and to spend time relaxing away from you (see Using Predictable Rewards to Train Your Dog).Until you can get your dog to settle and relax while you are at home, he is unlikely to settle when you leave.Establish a daily routine so that your dog can begin to predict when he can expect attention (including exercise, feeding, training, play and elimination) and when he should be prepared for inattention (when it should be napping or playing its favored toys).If your dog has separation anxiety, it’s likely that your dog's favored rewards are the attention and play that you provide.to learn and what behavior.Take each of your dog’s most valuable rewards and ask yourself: “What behavior does my dog need to learn?” and “What behavior should I never reinforce?” With separation anxiety you must reinforce your dog for settling down, relaxing and showing some independence, while attention seeking and following behaviors should never be reinforced.Therefore, training should focus on extended and relaxed down stays and going to a bed or mat on command (see Teaching Calm – Settle and Relaxation Training).You want your dog to learn that calm and quiet behavior is the only way to receive attention.Train “settle” (see Teaching Calm – Settle and Relaxation Training).Gradually shape longer stays and longer times on the bed or mat before attention, affection, treats or play is earned.Having a bed or mat location (in a room, pen, or crate) where your dog can be taught to rest, nap, play with his toys or even sleep, can provide a secure area where your dog might settle when you are not home.You can begin by training your dog to go to the area and gradually shape longer stays and more relaxed responses in the area before rewards are given.On the other hand, know your dog’s limits; your dog must be calm and settled when released so as to avoid reinforcing crying or barking behavior.In time, a daily routine should be established where the dog learns to lie on his mat after each exercise, play and training session to either nap or play with his own toys.Other than play, exercise and training sessions, focus on giving your dog some or all of his rewards (treats, toys, chews, affection, feeding toys) only in this area.For vocalization, anti-anxiety drugs and pheromones may also be useful for short-term use, until the owner has effectively corrected the problem.Since the underlying problem is anxiety, try to reduce all forms of anxiety prior to departure, at the time of departure, and at the time of homecoming.What should be done before departures?The key is to avoid as many of the departure cues as possible, so that your dog’s anxiety doesn’t heighten before you leave.What can be done to reduce anxiety at the time of departure?My dog starts to get anxious even before I leave.By exposing your dog to these cues while you remain at home and your dog is relaxed or otherwise occupied, they should no longer predict departure.Teach your dog that it is the quiet behavior that will receive attention, and not following you around, or demanding attention.Training can progress much quicker if your dog learns the down stay and mat exercises on command (see Teaching Calm – Settle and Relaxation Training).Be sure to schedule attention, interaction and play sessions and develop a routine while you are at home, and follow these with gradually longer sessions of inattention (for napping or playing with toys) to try and approximate your times of departure.Formal retraining should be directed at teaching your dog to remain on his mat, in his bed, or in his crate or den area, for progressively longer periods of time.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 your dog 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.During these training exercises, use as many cues as possible to help relax the dog.Give the “down-stay” command, a few of the novel toys and treats, and then depart while your dog is distracted and relaxed.The first few mock-departures should be identical to the training exercises above, but instead of leaving the room for a few minutes while your dog is calm and distracted, you will begin to leave the home.The goal is for your dog to learn that departures are short and that you return quickly, so you must only increase the time you are gone if the dog remains relaxed when you leave the house.This is similar to the way in which your dog should be trained to relax in your home and accept gradually longer departures.Although drugs may be important in reducing underlying anxiety and helping your dog cope, it is the retraining program that is needed to help your dog gain some independence and accept some time away from you. .