Separation Anxiety in Dogs

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.

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!

    K. Turner

    “Rachael was absolutely wonderful – she is experienced, knowledgeable and makes you feel super comfortable and confident. She gave us great tips, answered all of our questions, and was overall an excellent teacher (showing us by example and then having both my husband and I try). We had moved condo buildings and our dog had become reactive to some of the new dogs in the building and in just 2 sessions with Rachael he has improved so much. He now seems relaxed and secure and excited about his new routine and skills.  How much she cares about dogs comes across and you can tell she really wants to help.”

    – K. Turner

    Steph, Dylan, & King

    “We are thrilled with how far King has come!

    King is a rescue from the Toronto Humane Society and we got him a little over a month ago. He’s about a year and a half and to say he’s full of energy is an understatement. When we first got him we were told he was very dog aggressive, and probably wouldn’t do well in a condo.

    Enter Stephanie – Within the first few minutes of meeting her we knew she was perfect for us. She’s extremely knowledgeable, confident, and you can just tell she loves dogs. She was very patient with the 3 of us and gave us confidence in our training. Without Stephanie we would have never realized how smart King is, and how much potential he has. “

    – Steph, Dylan & King!

    Tom and Deborah

    “A year after our private sessions with Andre, our beagle Jake sits on our front porch and watches dogs walk by without aggression — dogs that used to set him off on sight at any distance. We continue to use food rewards on walks and have reduced fear-aggression responses to a rarity. He no longer guards the porch when the postman, delivery people or friends approach. Can’t tell you how grateful we are for Andre’s sound advice.”

    – Tom and Deborah

    Lauren R.

    “We had an absolutely fantastic experience here. When we adopted our dog, Corky, she didn’t even know her name and didn’t know any commands. By the end of the Foundations Skills Class she knows a ton — how to sit, lay down and even go to bed! Most of all, the trainers gave us the skills and knowledge to train Corky on an ongoing basis. The trainers are awesome and always give individual feedback about your dog. Corky had a blast going to class.”

    – Lauren R

    Lauren K.

    “My husband and I took the Puppy Start Right classes with our pup when we first got him. Two years later I still think it’s the best thing we’ve done so far as pet “parents”. In addition to teaching him the basics and teaching us how to properly train our pup, I think the early socialization made a huge difference in terms of how he interacts with other dogs. We take him to doggy daycare a few times a week and every time we pick him up the staff comments on how good he is with other dogs (even the ones who don’t typically play well with others).
    The classes at When Hounds Fly were fun, informative and taught us how to train our dog instead of just focusing on teaching obedience and tricks. If you have a new puppy, I highly recommend the Puppy Socialization class.”

    – Lauren K

    Get Started

    Access our recorded 1.5 hour webinar called Separation Anxiety 101. This webinar is valued at over $60, but we are offering it to anyone for free.

    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.