Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs

By on October 22, 2010

Separation anxiety is a common problem in dogs which has divided expert opinion of the causes behind the behaviour for many years. The situation can become dramatic when the owners leave, resulting in chewed carpets, remote controls, dog beds etc, soiling of the house and constant barking, whilst upsetting the neighbours in the process.

This then results as a vicious cycle of anxiety for the owners, often causing them to sacrifice their freedom by not leaving the house.

This is no fun for neighbours, owners or the dog, so the problem must be addressed.

Many dog experts have anthropomorphised this behaviour, labelling the dog as bored and then devised a new toy to occupy the dog in the owners’ absence or placed the dog in a cage restricting any potential damage to the home.

Unfortunately this is a two dimensional view of the behaviour and will not help the dogs state of mind.
The canine has survived for millions of years before the ‘evolution’ from wolf to dog.

The dog has ’evolved’ dramatically in appearance; however their basic instincts that have kept them alive for so many years are still apparent today; The two most obvious forms being their communication (body language) and their need for leadership.

The species would not have been nearly as successful, if the canines were not as experts in these areas as they always have been.

The dog must have a leader and if you are not communicating the correct leadership signals then the dog will assume the leader position.

This creates problems, because the dog as a leader is then responsible for your well being. So when you leave the home, the dog has no idea where you have gone and his way of dealing with the stress of loosing you is to react by chewing and barking.

The dog is not being naughty, he is genuinely distraught.

In this situation we have to change roles of leader from the dog to you therefore relieving the dog of the massively responsibility of having to protect the pack. We can do this by using subtle body language techniques observed in the wild by wolves.

In the wild after ever separation no matter how long or how short there is a reuniting ritual. During this ritual the leaders of the wolf pack do not look or speak to the other wolves, by doing this, they are saying ‘I am still in charge, do not worry and do not come up to me’. To mimic this behaviour in the domestic situation after every separation, we must go through the same ritual.

We do this by not speaking or looking at the dog when we leave the house or when we return. By not looking or speaking we are taking any anxieties off the dog.

If we practice this with short build ups combined with other wolf pack body language techniques then you will become the leader, resulting in a stress free happy dog which will not chew or bark in your absence.

By Nigel Reed
www.dogtraininginlondon.co.uk

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3 Comments

  1. margaret reed

    November 1, 2010 at 6:23 am

    These instructions make so much sense, they are clear concise and if the owner
    follows this advice with confidence and consistency they will not fail!

  2. Ea Alene Hjemme

    March 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Good article with an important point. I just like to add that many of these problems could be avoided, if dog owners would teach and train their puppies properly to be left alone. Way too many people forget it requires hard training to teach a dog to be alone – and to be confident with it :-)

  3. George Peters

    September 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Great Article and Video!

    We had great problems with our little Pomeranian with Dog Separation Anxiety.

    We tried so many different things, it was not funny.

    Not only was he suffering every time we left the house, but we found we were not going out much any more because we were worried about him on his own.

    We tried everything including medications (which proved no good).

    We found a site recently, which helped us cure the problem for Oscar(Our Pommie).

    I highly recommend anyone who is struggling to cure dog separation anxiety for their dog to go to http://dogseparationanxiety.com.au and try it out – their techniques really did work and now we have a very happy little Oscar and we can leave the house without worrying about him.

    George.

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