How to Train Your Chihuahua Dog to Not Whine

Medium
6-10 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Your Chihuahua might be suffering from Small Dog Syndrome. This is behavior based and rooted in lack of training. Chihuahuas are known to be stubborn, but they want to please their owners and earn rewards. If your Chihuahua has small dog syndrome, he will try to appear larger than life to let everyone around him know just how fierce he can be. But when your Chihuahua is not just acting aggressive but also whining, he’s communicating something to you. Chihuahuas will whine when they are uncomfortable. He is vocalizing his anxieties before the aggressions come out in barking or growling. This kind of behavior can occur if your dog is feeling lost and alone or fearful of others in or around your home. Your Chihuahua could also be whining to appease another dog within your home. 

Defining Tasks

Building your Chihuahua’s confidence will help control the amount of whining he does. Obedience training will build your Chihuahua’s skills as well as give you and your guests tools when socializing your Chihuahua. You can also give your Chihuahua purpose by teaching him obedience commands. This gives him jobs to do, even if it’s as simple as sitting before having his meal served, that will build his confidence and place him in the ranks of your pack. If you have other dogs in your home and your Chihuahua is acting submissive by whining, you can place them on closer levels in the pack by treating them the same. Make them work together to earn treats at the same time. If you are carrying your Chihuahua around the house or coddling his fears when he whines but you don’t do that with your other dogs, begin treating them the same with the same rewards for good behavior. 

Getting Started

Be prepared to set boundaries with your Chihuahua. This will build confidence and set defined rules. Make your training sessions with your Chihuahua short and rewarding. Bring playtime into training sessions. To encourage your dog to stop whining and bring his confidence to a level where he feels secure, use high-value treats during training. Foods like cheese and hot dogs, cut into small bite-sized pieces, will keep your Chihuahua interested in working on changing this behavior. 

The Cry It Out Method

ribbon-method-2
Most Recommended
3 Votes
Step
1
Safe places
Set up safe spots your for Chihuahua to sleep and play. This should include a comfortable bed or a place to sleep on the floor in a living space as well as in the space where expect your Chihuahua to sleep at night. These may be the same spaces, but be aware if they are separate spaces within your home, and offer two beds.
Step
2
Crate
Offer a crate as well as a place to sleep or for quiet play. A small crate for your Chihuahua offers a small, confined safe place for your Chihuahua to sleep and rest or play quietly when you are away. Unless it’s night sleeping, try not to use the crate with the door closed when you are home. He may go inside, but keep the door open, so he has the independence to come out as long as you are home.
Step
3
Whining
When your Chihuahua whines, take him to his special safe place. This would be his bed in the room near you or his crate. Try to stay close by so your Chihuahua can see you and feel secure. When he whines, ignore him, but when he’s quiet, give him a treat, rewarding him for good behaviors.
Step
4
Soft voice
Build your Chihuahua up by talking to him, assuring him that he is safe and all is okay in his world when he is quiet. When he goes to his safe spot, encourage him with a quiet voice. When you are ready for your Chihuahua to go to his safe spot, tell him with a soft and quiet voice to go to his bed or into his crate. If you train these keywords early on, he’ll associate those spaces with safety and security.
Step
5
Negativity
Do not get angry or show frustration with your Chihuahua when he whines. Your Chihuahua will pick up on any negative emotions you have and mimic them or feel more anxiety because of them. Showing anger will scare your pup. Remember the goal is to build his confidence and give him safe places to go when he is sleepy or anxious.
Recommend training method?

The Expectations Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Early on
Know your expectations of your Chihuahua and set some boundaries with him. Decide where he will sleep so he feels safe and is near you. If he will be allowed on furniture, give him tools like steps or a ramp to get up there safely. Be sure to think about his security as you set these boundaries. You want a confident Chihuahua.
Step
2
Training
Train basic obedience commands and keywords or phrases to your Chihuahua as soon as possible. This will also build his confidence and give him purpose within your pack together. Take training slowly, but be consistent and work on something together every day.
Step
3
Whining
If your Chihuahua misses you, feels threatened, or insecure, he may whine. When you hear him to this, ignore him. When he takes a break from whining, give him a treat. Reward moments when he is not whining.
Step
4
Quiet rewards
There will be moments when you are not training your Chihuahua and he is not whining. When you catch him in these moments, give him a tasty treat. While you are training, be sure to offer treats as well.
Step
5
Expectations
When your Chihuahua is meeting the expectations you set early on, such as using a pet step unit to climb to the couch, give him a treat. When you notice him going to his bed to nap alone, give him a treat. Any time you see him doing something independent within the boundaries you’ve set, offer him a treat.
Recommend training method?

The Conditioning Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Separation
When you leave your house, your Chihuahua may whine and feel separation anxiety. When you arrive home, take a few moments to ignore your Chihuahua. This may be difficult to do but ignore him. After several minutes, greet him with lots of love and attention. This will condition him to be alone and secure while you are away and while you are home.
Step
2
Worn out
Be sure to give your Chihuahua lots of exercise while you are together so when you are away or busy around the house he is too tired to whine and worry about where you are.
Step
3
Entertainment
Whether you are home or away, offer your Chihuahua entertainment in the form of toys and puzzle treats with toys. If you are home, make a big deal of giving him entertainment with a treat when he is lying quietly. This will give him attention and entertainment. Use a soft and calm voice as you give him his toys and treats.
Step
4
White noise
If your Chihuahua is used to music or television or even your family talking, give him white noise while you are away or when you step away to shower or cook a meal. Keeping up a common level of noise in the house will give him the comforts he feels when you are around.
Step
5
Safe place
Give your Chihuahua a safe place to go such as a crate with the door left open while you are home so he has a place of security and comfort. Anytime you hear him whining, take him to that space with a treat. To condition him to go there alone, you can treat him, talk to him softly, and even offer a piece of laundry that smells of you while he is there.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 12/27/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Louie aka LuLee
Chihuahua
1 Year
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Question
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Louie aka LuLee
Chihuahua
1 Year

Louie was abused when he was a baby and then travelled allot with us. I feel like I may have made him like this, he’s aggressive with other dogs if any size, he barks at EVERYONE. I five he cries all day when I’m gone. Waits at the door and other times when all is five he will just whine for no reason! Not to mention he just doesn’t like any dog food. Please help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, For the dog aggression, I would see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area you can attend with him - which is a class for dog aggressive/reactive dogs, to work on intensively socializing them with safety measures like basket muzzles and a structured environment and class instructor to guide. For the barking, check out the Quiet method and Desensitize method from the article I have linked below, and the youtube video series on barking I have linked below. Quiet method and Desensitize method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Barking series videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a For the picky eating, I suggest mixing his food with something he likes the night before feeding him. Start with a higher quantity of food he likes and a bit of dog food, then gradually increase the dog food and decrease the food he likes overtime. Test out freeze dried meat dog food toppers, like stella and chewy or nature's variety first. If he likes those, crush them into a powder in a ziplock bag, then place that and some of his dog food in the bag overnight to flavor and scent the food. Feed that regularly if he will eat it, then gradually decrease how much powder you use and increase the dog food slowly in place of it - go slow so that eating the new food has become habit and he doesn't think about it changing gradually so keeps eating it. If he likes the kibble topper, you can also feed something like Ziwi peak or nature's variety raw boost long term - which is composed of freeze dried food or has it mixed in, if that's in your budget. If pup doesn't like the freeze dried stuff, then do the same thing but use things like minced chicken, liver paste, or goats milk mixed with the dog food and refrigerated overnight (you may want to do the goats milk last minute because it will get soggy though). Another option, is to have pup work for all of their kibble. Have pup perform commands and tricks and use the dog food that has been mixed with freeze dried powder from a ziplock bag, as rewards for pup obeying commands. Many dogs are actually more enthusiastic about their food if they have to earn it and consider it a treat. Feed pup entire meal amounts this way so that he is hungry during training in place of the bowl for a while. When you do so, act like the food is treats - you should act like you have a great prize not like you have to temp pup to eat. It may seem opposite but what a dog can't have without working for it, often makes it even more appealing. Finally, it would be worth consulting your vet about this if you haven't done so lately. For the barking while away, I recommend teaching pup Place and Quiet. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s I would practice both commands first with you in the home, working up to you going in other rooms while pup remains on place in that room. I would also consider low level remote collar training, to correct pup for disobeying commands you have worked up to, once pup is at the point where they can be expect to obey after enough practice. Start by leaving the room, returning quickly and rewarding when pup stays quiet. If pup barks or leaves Place (spy on pup with a camera), I would correct with the remote collar briefly, and using the section on how to use Out to deal with pushy behavior from the article I have linked below, "herd" pup back to the Place bed they tried to leave if they don't return to it on their own. Once pup is doing better on Place, space out your rewards so that you are rewarding pup for staying on Place and Quiet for longer and longer. Begin leaving your home briefly, spying on pup with the camera so you can return to reward or correct remotely. Work up to longer periods of time by going for walks near your home, within range of your remote and camera. Once pup can handle Place with you gone, then repeat the same type of training with pup not being required to go to Place first, and interrupt with the collar, reward with the treats and spy on with camera when pup begins barking, scratching, or getting getting overly worked up. Once pup is more calm overall, I would try reintroducing the dog food stuffed kong to help with boredom. Pup is probably too worked up to accept it right now. Once calmer pup will need something to help entertain themselves with though and will be more likely to chew it then. For a camera, you may already have what you need. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. To properly fit an e-collar, check out this video on their use and fit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI When introducing an e-collar, you will want to find pup's "working level", which is the lowest level pup will respond to. You should only use a high quality e-collar with at least 30 levels to ensure you can get the right level and the collar will be reliable. Some well known brands include e-collar technologies, Dogtra, Sportdog, and Garmin. E-collar technologies' mini educator is a common option for such training. The working level is generally found by turning the collar to it's lowest level and pushing the stimulation button twice very briefly. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM A modern, high quality collar will have so many levels that each level should be really subtle and he will likely respond to a low level stimulation. It's uncomfortable but not the harsh shock many people associate with such collars if done right. Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can before starting training with it, to allow pup to get used to the feel of it and not associate the training just with the collar, but with his behavior. (Be sure to take it off at night to sleep). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cleopatra
Teacup deerhead
7 Months
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Question
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Cleopatra
Teacup deerhead
7 Months

How do I make it so she doesn’t growl and snarle at my nephew when he comes in the room or downstairs and how do I make her stop barking when all the other dogs have stopped and she whines really bad when I leave her with anyone and it is continuously longest was 40 mins she whined for

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sami, For the barking, check out the article and video series I have linked below, especially the Quiet command from the Quiet method, found in the article I linked. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark video series on barking: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a For the aggression, I do recommend hiring a professional trainer to work with you in person to address this. First, using measures like crating and desensitizing her to the muzzle are important first steps - the child is first priority and needs to be kept safe, and being allowed to act aggressive toward them will make the behavior in her worse, so don't feel bad about doing those things. Those are responsible first steps. Check out the videos linked below on desensitizing aggressive dogs to kids. Notice the safety measures always taken though and be sure to implement similar measures - crates, back tie leash, lines for the kids not to cross, constant adult supervision anytime there is an interaction between the kids and dog, and a basket muzzle. You can work on teaching pup to respect the kids and be more comfortable around them via desensitizing and their respect for you and your rules. Once pup is doing well, I still would not allow her to be around the kids without a lot of structure and precautions in case since pup does have a history of biting - but training needs to be in place so that bites are no longer the norm. Just know that even when pup does well, they shouldn't be completely trusted still since they have shown a lack of impulse control around kids and could bite. Explanation of why dogs often bite kids (the dog in this video who is closer to the kids doesn't have aggression issues - which is why you don't see the extra precautions taken, like in the rest of the videos I have linked - extra safety measures will be needed when practicing with a known biter - such as a muzzle, back tie leash, crate, and greater distance between pup and kid): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7_0ZqiJ1zE&t=122s Use of crate, Place and tether leash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n0_27XY3z4 The dog is attached to the pole with a secure leash while on Place - notice the tape on the ground the kid knows not to cross - to keep the kid out of the dog's reach in case the dog lunges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gblDgIkyAKU Teaching dog to move away from kids when uncomfortable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYs76puesAE Later stage, up close desensitization - even though kids are close, there is still a line and pup is still on a back-tie leash so that pup can't actually get to kids to bite if they tried...This is a later stage exercise for pup once they can do well with the other above scenarios: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Merle
French Bulldog
3 Years
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Question
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Merle
French Bulldog
3 Years

We got Merle about more than a year ago and when we got him he was cuddly and sweet to everyone. He was the nicest dog ever. But about a week later his legs and back hurt so we took him to a vet. And after that when was never the same. Hes a rescue and come from an abusive household. But when we got him he was fine. After the vet he started attacking everyone in the house. If first started when I tried petting him to comfort him and he started growling and literally charged after me on the couch. He tried biting, he was barking growling charging at me. I had to put him in his kennel for the rest of the night. After that it just got worse. He bit everyone in the house (four of us) hes bit our other animals (two cats, and other dog at the time) everyone in the house. He attacks visitors, or us again if he doesn’t recognize us. We tried muzzle training him but that might have made it worse. The problem is that it happens out of nowhere half the time. He‘ll want to be pet and loved and then boom, hes trying to bite us. He also doesnt listen at all. He runs away, doesnt listen even though we‘ve already trained him with that beflre and after the muzzle and any other method of training. We havent gotten ridden of him yet because we dont want anyone to put him down. But at the same time I dont know what to do with him. Its too much for anyone to handle.
I just want to know what could be wrong with him or how to fix anything.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexis, With a history of abuse and the leg and back pain I would actually pursue this with your vet first. I am not a vet, but as another pet owner myself I wonder if there could be nerve or brain damage going overlooked since it feels like the aggression is sudden and unprovoked and pup isn't always recognizing you. I would look into this further with your vet, and potentially an animal behaviorist who in addition to training experience also has a more thorough understanding of canine physiology, to understand what could be going on in the brain trauma wise or how pup's medical status might be impacting their brain and neurology. I am not either though so defer to their judgment in this area. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Fiona
chihuahua mix
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Fiona
chihuahua mix
5 Months

Hello! My fur baby’s barking is getting out of control. I live in a city apartment and my neighbors are complaining. I’m struggling to find the cause of the problem. Fiona barks whenever I’m sitting on the couch while she’s in her playpen located nearby. She follows my every move and wants to be with me often. She doesn’t have much interest in toys. I don’t know if this barking is boredom, anxiety, or attention seeking behavior? I’ve tried the cry/bark it out method but not getting any progress. In fact, her barking gets louder when I ignore her so I just go into a different room when this happens until she is quiet. I’m not sure this is a long term solution. What can I do? I will mention she is attached to me and it appears she has shy/nervous/anxious/fearful tendencies based on her behavior. I’ve had her since was 8 weeks old and this issue hasn’t become prominent until now. Thank you in advance.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Julia, Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below, to work on rewarding quietness to help teach pup that. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate I would also teach Quiet - The Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark When pup is in the pen I would give them a dog food stuffed chew toy as well, since that will automatically reward quietness and address any boredom barking. You can use pup's meal kibble to stuff the kong with. To stuff a kong you can either place pup's dry dog food loosely in it and cover 1/2 of the opening with a larger treat - so the dog food will dispense more slowly, or place pup's food in a bowl, cover with water, let sit out until the food turns to mush, mix the mush with a little liver paste, treat paste, or peanut butte (avoid xylitol! - it's extremely toxic to dogs and a common sweetener substitute), place a straw through the kong's holes, loosely stuff the kong with the mush, place in a baggie, and free overnight. Remove the straw before giving pup and grab the kong from the freezer as needed - for a time-released treat. You can also purchase several durable hollow chew toys and stuff them at the same time so that you have a stash in the freezer to grab from as needed. A kong wobble or durable puzzle toy are other options. The kong wobble is very quick to stuff. I would try those things first, if the barking continues, you can then correct with something like an unscented air pet convincer, blown briefly at pup's side to interrupt the barking. I would use that in combination with teaching Quiet, and rewarding quietness in place of barking. I would try addressing the boredom and rewarding quietness first though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Luna
Chihuahua/Basebjii
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Luna
Chihuahua/Basebjii
2 Years

Whining, separation anxiety

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. It sounds like there may be some separation anxiety going on. Because this behavior issue is complex, I have a lot of information to send you. With some time and practice, this is something that can be turned around over the next month or so. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

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