Separation Anxiety / Isolation Distress in Dogs
Separation Anxiety in dogs, as it’s commonly called, is technically Isolation Distress.
If your dog does two or more of the following things when left home alone, your dog may have separation anxiety:
Separation Anxiety Symptoms
- Barks or Howls (not triggered by hearing noises outside or in the hallway) simply because everyone has left
- Pacing, Whining, Drooling, simply because everyone has left (observable via webcam)
- Chewing, Digging, Destruction, especially around the door the owners have exited from (door frame, door, etc.)
- Urinating or Defecating, when under normal circumstances, the dog is 100% house trained
- Won’t eat food (owner has tried leaving behind the kong filled with liverwurst, tripe, wet dog food, cheese whiz, etc.) and it remains uneaten until the humans return home
- Stress behaviours such as pacing, whining, or attention seeking behaviour as the owners prepare to leave (pre-departure cues are triggering stress)
Some owners incorrectly assume their dog has separation anxiety when in fact these common mistakes are made:
Probably Not Separation Anxiety:
- Juvenile dogs destroy sofa cushions or tip over garbage bins because it’s fun and they are bored (confinement and puppy proofing is required)
- Accidents occur because the dog is not properly house trained (dog sometimes has accidents even when people are home)
- Barking occurs in response to environmental noises in the hallway or outside
- Inadequate exercise and/or the dog has simply been left isolated for longer than is reasonable
Key Elements of a Separation Anxiety Behaviour Modification Plan
- Owners need to commit to approximately 30 minutes of training per day
- Owners need to commit to suspending absences and isolation during treatment, which means relying on friends, family, bringing the dog to work, working from home, arranging for dog sitters/dog swapping, taking “stay at home shifts” with other family members, and utilizing dog daycares or all-day dog walking services.
- Owners need to understand treatment typically takes 3-6 months, although individual cases will vary.
It is our opinion that 3-6 months of lifestyle change and hard work is much better than many years of anxiety and worry for both the owners, but most importantly, the dog.
Separation Anxiety Behaviour Modification Consulting Services
Many of the behaviour consultants and trainers at When Hounds Fly have owned dogs with separation anxiety themselves, and we’ve provided coaching and guidance to our clients to help them help their dogs overcome separation anxiety.
The great news is, when clients follow protocol closely and with our support, the probability of success is high. We’ve standardized our Separation Anxiety consulting packages based the patterns of success we’ve seen with our clients.
First Step: Initial Two-Lesson Package (GETS Process)
Our standardized two lesson package provides you with:
- Pre-lesson review of your Canine Behaviour History Form and isolation video footage review
- Initial 1.5 Hour Lesson (Zoom or In-Person)
- 60 Minute Followup Support Budget, for either a second 1 Hour Lesson or two shorter 30 Minute Zoom meetings
Long Term Support
We’re there to support you and guide you as you make your way through the program. Progress is often not linear, and sometimes next steps are unclear, therefore having an expert to support you is key.
Web or Teleconferencing check in calls (30 minutes each) and email support (including reviewing of brief progress videos) between calls can help you along the way.
Commitment and consistency is key, therefore, regular check-in calls are helpful to keep you on track and reinforce you for your hard work. We are here also to be your accountability partner as you work through the protocol!
To get 1-on-1 help, Fill out our Application Form for Private Lessons and pick “Separation Anxiety” and we will reach out to you for scheduling.