Having a dog who suffers from separation anxiety can be a scary and an incredibly frustrating thing. Many dog owners who have dogs with separation anxiety often talk about coming home to their homes in ruin because of their dogs. When a dog who suffers from separation anxiety is left to cope alone for hours at a time he tends to tear apart things like couches, doors, curtains, trash cans, and anything else he can find. Everything in your home is fair game, including your children's toys or their beloved stuffed animals when you have a dog with separation anxiety. This sort of anxiety is not the easiest thing to figure out or to diagnose, but if your dog is extremely upset every time you leave the house to the point where he is tearing things apart that he should not have access to, he is probably dealing with separation anxiety.
Teaching your dog to deal with separation anxiety often becomes a matter of teaching your dog how to cope or how to entertain himself while you are away. Dogs want comfort and security, especially when they are left alone. Your dog lives to please you, and when you are not home, he's uncertain of his role in the world. When left with this uncertainty your dog could tear apart everything you own. One of the tricks to easing this anxiety is to give him comfort. You can do this with toys, food, small confined areas such as a crate, or even products and different behaviors before you leave to help ease your dog's anxiety.
Helping a dog with separation anxiety sometimes comes down to trial and error. To start, be sure you have high-value treats and any items you would like to offer your dog to help him cope through these difficult transitions. Your dog may need a crate to sleep in while you are away from the house. He may also need a new bed or additional toys. A Kong or puzzle toys with hidden treats can help keep your dog entertained while you are away. If you think your dog is dealing with separation anxiety, you may need to talk to your veterinarian about medications to help. There are also products you can purchase such as pheromone sprays, essential oils to help calm your dog, or a thunder vest to help ease anxieties. The method you choose will determine which products you need to stock up on or buy to move forward.
Yesterday I took my dog to the dog park, since he hadn't seen other dogs in a couple months. From a week or two ago, he started gradually misbehaving again, and then after we came back from the park, I was hoping he would be too tired to misbehave instead of be bored, but he did the opposite. He started misbehaving a lot worse, and it's been one day, and he's already being rebellious.
Is he still going to the adolescent age, where dogs act like "teens", and they rebel against us?
Or is he either simply way too energetic and not willing to calm down, or is it because he hasn't played with other dogs in a long time? If one hour at the dog park didn't cut it, should I let him stay there for a couple hours or longer?
We usually don't walk him, but instead, we simply stay inside and play fetch with him, or on occasion, he will run around the house in circles as a way to exercise. He doesn't see other dogs, but to us it seems that it kind of tires him out, but not completely, to where he will eventually fall asleep.
Hello Kien, Lucky is probably still in the adolescent stage. Some breeds take longer to mature mentally, including many Retrievers. Dog parks can wear a dog out physically but because of the excitement, lack of structure and lack of boundaries, they can over-stimulate and over-excite dogs too. Experiences with dogs that require self-control and focus tend to work better for calming a dog down around other dogs. Going on walks where he has to heel the whole time, walking with other dogs and their owners encourages calmness and is tiring for the dog. Practicing obedience in a class around other dogs will usually wear a dog out better. Practicing obedience with dogs in the background at the park or public place on a leash, or playing with one other dog and having to get under control immediately (that is something learned more in off-leash obedience). Dogs need physical exercise but some dogs have a lot of endurance and will require even more than you can give them. If you work on training that is slightly hard for the dog, like obedience and heeling around other dogs - so he has to focus for an hour for example, that is typically a lot more tiring than just physical exercise. It also encourages a calmer mindset - which effects the types of chemicals released in the dog's brain - typically more calming. The dog park gets him excited and aroused - which causes his brain to release chemicals that keep him more excited and aroused for a while after playing, until he finally crashes when they clear his system. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Fatman has always been close to me, always a step behind me, always very happy to see me when I return home. About 2 months ago he was attacked by another dog while being "dogsat". He was seriously injured and spent the night at the vets office sedated. I was not told until the next day what had happened. I rushed to the vet and sat with him until he was able to come home. Physically he is healed but emotionally he's showing signs of C-PTSD. He goes into a full panic mode when I leave the room. He whines, yelps, and howls until I come back. Its to the point that he goes every where with me because I am afraid to leave him alone for fear he will give himself a heart attack. I have anti anxiety meds from the vet and have tried calming treats but nothing is helping. I don't know what else to try. Any advice would be appreciated!!
Hello Koti, I suggest working on some confidence building exercises and independence building exercises. It's also super important to act calm and confident around him and not to act like you feel sorry for him (although I am sure you do because that's a terrible thing that happened to him - BUT what he needs from you is confidence and not worry). Place - Place, crate manners, and practicing a distance Down-Stay are all really important for increasing confidence with independence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video - you can use something like a gentle leader or martingale if pulling isn't an issue, but the structure of the walk, with pup following and paying attention, not wandering or forging ahead is important for mindset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Confidence building - teaching tricks that require him handling new, uncertain things can also help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Also, practice leaving and coming back and getting ready to leave then not leaving over again over again to help desensitize. If you don't see improvement then check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training on YouTube. He has several videos on separation anxiety. His methods are effective but harsher so I suggest implementing the above gentler training first - which would be a part of his protocol anyway. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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When I adopted Blanco, I was told he has separation anxiety but he has never hurt himself or our home when he is left alone, nonetheless he displays aggression at neighbors, family, and even myself when I touch his treats, what can I do?
Hello Pamela, Is the aggression happening after you return from being gone? Or when one person leaves the household, it's happening toward the remaining people in the home? Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training and Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog Training. Both have free Youtube channels and offer Skype as well as in person training - depending on where you are located and quarantine. There may be anxiety present, but it sounds like a form of resource guarding - possibly related to having the house to himself, to high levels of stress hormones, or a respect issue toward the remaining household members. Without more details and a full evaluation, I cannot offer a lot of insight unfortunately. I would seek out a trainer to work with who specializes in aggressive, fearful, and reactive dogs. Who also has experience with Separation Anxiety in case that is part of the issue. You need to speak with someone who will be able to ask a lot of questions about pup, the situation, his history, and what you have and haven't tried thus far training wise, to develop a training plan for him. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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