Separation Anxiety is extremely common, and can be hard to cure.
This is a problem that can show up in any age of dog. Some dogs display it by being vocal, others by being destructive. Separation anxiety is a frustrating behavior issue because you generally aren’t there to see it, and adjusting your schedule around your dog can be problematic.
Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to make your dog more comfortable in your absence. Here are our top three separation anxiety training tips.
1) Create healthy separation while you are home.
If your dog is having issues when you are just in the next room, they will definitely struggle when you leave for work. The first step that you should take is to establish some healthy separation in the home.
Make your dog’s crate an enjoyable place when you are home. Feed her all of her meals in there and give her interactive toys such as stuffed Kong’s in the crate. Periodically put her in the crate for 10-15 minute periods for no reason. You can even be in the same room! Your dog is only allowed out when they are calm and quiet.
Gradually increase the amount of time that your dog spends in the crate. You should start to see your dog become more and more comfortable staying calm when you walk into the next room.
You should also teach your dog stays and a place commands. These are behaviors where your dog will have to show self control when you walk away. You can reinforce your dog heavily for these behaviors, and show them that you going further away isn’t a bad thing. Gradually increase the distance and duration of these commands.
2) Staying calm will help your dog to stay calm.
It’s nice to come home to a happy dog after a long day at work. Most people shower their dog with affection as soon as they walk through the door. While people do this with the best of intentions, it can have a negative affect on your dog’s state of mind.
If you have a dog who is struggling with separation anxiety training, you need to be careful not to reinforce the wrong things. Your dog has been anxious all day waiting for you to come back. If you walk through the door and make a big deal about them, it reinforces their thought process that things were bad when you were gone, and are now good since you are back.
Instead, come home and immediately let your dog out in the backyard or take them for a short walk.
Do not give them petting and attention until you have been home for 20-30 minutes and your dog is completely calm.
Doing this will change the way that your dog perceives you coming home. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your dog and that you can’t give them affection, it just means that your dog shouldn’t see you coming home as the most exciting part of the day.
3) Take advantage of technology.
Separation anxiety training methods have changed quite a bit over the years. One of the biggest changes has come from new technology that is available.
As mentioned earlier, one of the hardest things about this issue is that it happens when you aren’t around. This means that it can be hard to monitor progress, or to reward your dog for the right things.
One thing that you can do is set up a camera in your dog’s area so that you can see them from anywhere. We personally recommend the Nest Camera system, which can be easily connected to your phone so that you can monitor training progress from anywhere.
Another great tool is the Manner’s Minder, or Treat and Train. This machine can sit right on top of a wire crate, and can be set up to deliver treats to your dog either with a remote or on a timer. This means that you can reinforce calm behavior from the other side of the house. You can even set it on a timer before you leave for work, so that your dog is periodically rewarded throughout the day.
Separation anxiety didn’t develop overnight, and it takes time to bring your dog into the right frame of mind. If your dog suffers a setback, don’t get discouraged. Consistency is key in all areas of dog training, and over time you will see great results if you stick with it.
If you have any further questions about these tips, contact us for more information.