Some dogs with SA do well in a crate as they see it as a den, others do not, but it might be worth a try.
Copyright: Sally G
Generally dogs with Separation Anxiety lack self esteem and this can be due to changes in their life. Where they once felt secure they no longer dog so you need to help them to build self esteem through daily positive obedience training and the more short sessions you can do in a day the better. Through that training you want to get a good ‘down stay’, meaning the dog should not get up until a release command is given. This means you need to start training this at a close distance to the dog just a few feet at first and try to give a release command before the has time to get up as this allows the to succeed in what you have asked. The goal is to eventually be able to put the in a down stay while you move out of site. This will start the process of the dog learning to be alone. Continue training throughout the dog’s life to keep from backslides. This does not mean it has to be formal, like every day at 2:30, it means to ask for a command anytime you are with the dog and be sure the dog can succeed at giving it to you for praise or a treat. This is all to build self confidence.
I would also invest in some mind stimulating toys such as the talk to me treat ball, ( this is a ball that you can hide treats in and as the dog rolls it a recording of your voice is played) the Kong stuffed with cream cheese and frozen, the buster cube where kibble or treats are placed inside, and dog puzzles. This is all to keep her mind occupied while you are away from home. I have also found success in filling a large Gatorade bottle with the daily kibble as it lasts a long time as they try to get the food out.
You will have to change your routine a bit so the dog never really knows if you are coming or going. I would start this training on a weekend or at a time you don’t have work or any appointments and I would do it all day long. What you are going do is change your behavior which the dog has learned means you are about to leave. Whatever your routine entails prior to you normally leaving are things you want to change. This means everything from taking that morning shower before work to picking up your keys and leaving the house.
Some find it helpful to make a list of things they normally do before leaving because humans are so automated we do things that we don’t even realize, but the dog picks them up as cues.
You want to do these things all throughout the day preferable for a couple of days in a row, but never really leave the home for hours at a time.
So pick your keys up, jiggle them a little and put them down again , put your coat on walk around the house a bit and take it off, get dressed for the day then get redressed for bed. If you take a shower in the morning each day change that to a night time shower and interchange them on days you are home or away.
Do not give good byes or hellos. Do not acknowledge the dog for at least 15 minutes before you leave and after coming home. Soft talk and acknowledgement of a dog that is acting nervous is actually rewarding to that dog. When you think about training a dog, we ask for something from them, they do it, we praise them. When it comes to doggie habits, they paw our arm and we pet them, so it works because the reinforcement of petting was immediate. When you acknowledge a scared dog with petting or soft talk it is actually a reward and so the behavior continues and gets worse over time.
When training in commands to succeed I find it helpful to use the clicker (which can be found in any pet store) as it is used as a marker over the person’s voice. Sometimes when humans train strictly with their voice , their frustration comes out and the dog hears that, which then makes the dog more nervous. So clicker training is simply giving the dog a command and waiting for the dog to complete that command, they use the clicker as a market that tell the dog they did the right thing then praise & reward. Sometimes the clicker noise frightens a dog so in that instance you will want to use your voice as the marker but keep it to one word such as “Yes.” There are also clickers that make a louder sound and some that are softer so play around and see if one will work for your dog.
The clicker costs about 3 dollars in a pet store and if you cannot find a treat bag for your belt use an old fanny pack. Not quite as stylish but it worksJ For reward I prefer very small soft treats so there is nothing that can crumble to the ground when chewed. When items like biscuits are used and the fall out of the dog’s mouth to the floor it takes the dog’s attention off of you.
Items you may want to try along with training: a thunder/anxiety wrap, a DAP diffuser, ( I have heard through customers that the diffuser works better in home situations than the collar) You may want to try over the counter Melatonin but always consult your vet before using any over the counter meds. I usually use this for dogs with anxiety to noise and separation. There are also a CD’s out called Through A Dogs Ear found on Amazon that I have found helpful to my own dogs in having them rest more peaceably.
Keep in mind that a dog with a case of separation anxiety is normally attached to the owner so getting another dog to help with separation anxiety may not help the dog at all, but cause you more headaches. However I also say “never say never” especially if you have adopted an older dog because you may not know if that dog was actually attached to another animal before it came to live with you so it would not do any harm to having a family member or friend’s dog stay with your dog for a couple of days to see if it helps.
Below are sites to aid you in finding what I have mentioned above .
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos http://www.clickertrainusa.com/clicker-training-videos.htm
Melatonin found in drug stores by vitamins
In the UK http://uk.evitamins.com/melatonin
Through a dogs ear
calming music on youtube to try out
Kong these work great when stuffed with cream cheese and frozen
Dog Puzzles. If you just type in dog puzzles on amazon you will come to a page full. I just happened to pick this one . PetCo also carries dog puzzles.
More Separation Anxiety tips
If the urinating inside the home is done simply because she is not potty trained that is easy enough to fix. This happens because dogs were not trained prior, in most cases they were in pens outside so the owner never had to train them,or they were trained the wrong way initially.
POTTY TRAINING starting over
Copyright Sally G
To start over the dog must not have run of the home because by allowing this you are setting the dog up to fail. So it is important the dog be kept in a crate or on a tether next to its bed and food bowls as dogs do not like to eliminate where they eat and sleep. If you can’t watch the dog 100% then the dog must be contained and sometimes when people get busy around the house they actually tether the dog to them so they can watch them
Clean all areas you know that the dog has urinated with a cleanser made just for dog urine or it will be attracted back to those spots and continue to eliminate there.
Take the dog out via a leash and give a potty command, such as “go potty” and continue to say go potty even as the dog is eliminating so the dog associates the command with the act. Once done eliminating, praise and reward the dog, but the reward must be special and something the dog will only get when it potties outside so it associates this with that command and the act. Something like hot dog slivers work well or cheese chunks.
Puppies should be taken out every two hours as well as after play, nap, and eating. Sometimes a puppy gets involved and actually forget that they have to go until it is too late. Also pups outside become distracted by wind, shadows, noises, etc. so it is important to redirect them if you feel that they are not finished going or when you bring them back inside then crate them, wait ten minutes and take them out again.
Inside the home , once you have cleaned all areas the dog is known to go in, start to sprinkle some of its kibble or treats in those areas so the dog begins to see them as an eating area. Eventually you can replace that with small bowls of water until the dog is fully trained