Preventing Puppy Dog Separation Anxiety During the Coronavirus Quarantine-Part 3
This is the third article in the series Preventing Puppy Dog Separation Anxiety during the Coronavirus Quarantine, and we will talk about some easy everyday things you can do starting now.
- The Everyday Stuff, which is what this article deals with, is beginning to change your behavior now by doing some things differently.
- The Training Stuff will take a bit more work on your part.
- The Other Stuff is stuff is important but doesn’t fit into the other 2 categories.
- The Resources are the products mentioned in the other articles plus more stuff.
How is puppy dog Separation Anxiety treated?
In a nutshell, Separation Anxiety treatment had been to desensitize a dog to being alone by systematically leaving him home for longer periods of time – 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. The treatment was frustrating for both owners and their dogs because it typically takes several weeks of intense training, during which time their dogs should not be left alone, so they went to doggie daycare, someone’s house, or they hired a pet sitter to stay with them. It is the most difficult behavior issue I work with because we are working on fixing a behavior that takes place when you are not home.
BUT the new thinking – which is being researched by several studies – is that Separation Anxiety is not a behavior problem in and of itself but that it is a symptom of an underlying problem.
Human equivalent – if you have a stomachache because you ate something that disagreed with you, you take an antacid. But if you have a stomachache that is caused by a growth in your stomach, the treatment for that is very different. The stomachache is the symptom but not the cause of the problem.
It was also common for my clients’ dogs to have other behavior issues – fear of noises, being startled easily, and aggression topping the list – and we worked on those issues alongside the SA issues, and that’s why we had more success. However, this series of articles will be specifically dealing with preventing Separation Anxiety and not any underlying issues because there are too many variables to address those here.
Because you are home now and have time to do the training, you’re going to get some easy preventative measures in order to lessen the emotional toll on both of you now and the financial toll on you later so you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to work with a dog behavior consultant and purchase the supplies they recommend.
Because your dog is getting used to our constant companionship now, he is becoming dependent on us for attention and games and is not learning become confident alone and how to entertain himself – which is are skills he needs to learn now for his behavioral health later.
That doesn’t start the day before you go back to work. It starts now, and it starts with you. Prevention is the key, and you hold that key so he can feel secure and stable in your absence. You will be working on increasing his frustration tolerance, decreasing the contrast between the constant companionship when you are home and when you are gone, and making him behaviorally healthy.
It starts with structure and your being a leader because you will show him that he can feel safe while he is alone and he can build on frustration tolerance. It starts by doing little things today
A Few Caveats
Caveat #1 – It’s likely going to take some time at the beginning and you may feel awkward because you are doing things differently. But please persevere, and it will take less and less time as your dog understands what the new rules are. His behavior may even get worse before it gets better while he is learning – more later on why that is a normal part of learning. Keep going!
Caveat #2 – There’s going to be frustration, on your part and his.
- You may become frustrated during this training part of this program because, frankly, it can be very boring, and it also may seem like you’re not making any progress.
- The frustration on your dog’s part is that you are teaching him that he will not always get what he wants when he wants it, the result being that he learns to tolerate frustration.
Caveat #3 – Expect that there will be setbacks.
Expect that there will be improvements and there will be setbacks. Hang in there, and work through it. You are your dog’s best hope. If Separation Anxiety takes hold after you return to your normal schedule, he will not be able to overcome it by himself.
The Everyday Stuff you can do now to prevent your dog from having separation anxiety when things get back to normal
These suggestions take little or no time to do and mostly concentrate on doing things a bit differently and changing your behavior. The hardest part of the Everyday Stuff is to remember to do it and not fall into your old behavior patterns.
If you have a Velcro dog that follows you everywhere so you can’t even go to the bathroom by yourself or one that needs to be constantly touching you, that needs to stop. Don’t encourage clinging or give him endless attention – even if you need it. Structure your affection time with him through learning exercises. This is a new normal for us – it can be a new normal for your dog.
Everyday Stuff so your Dog is More Independent and Confident
- Close doors when you go from room to room.
- Don’t let your dog sleep in bed with you.
- Don’t let your dog lie on your lap, next to you, or at your feet when you are in a couch or chair. When you are on the couch, limit the time he can lie next to you or touching your feet. When you’re starting this exercise, he can be near you but not touching you.
- When you do leave your house – even if it is just to throw out the garbage – don’t take him with you. Don’t pay attention to him when you leave or make a fuss when you come home.
- Tell him he’s a good dog when he’s calm and quiet rather than paying attention to him when he demands it.
- Do not carry your dog everywhere.
- Ignore attention-seeking behaviors
- Barking at you
- Pawing or nudging you
- Whining at you
Other Everyday Stuff
- Have the radio or TV on all day. It’s like white noise to him and lessens noises outside your home in order to minimize or eliminate his reacting to them.
- “Say please” by sitting until you release him for his meals and while putting on his leash for walks.
- Get DogTV.
The next article in Preventing Puppy Dog Separation Anxiety During the Coronavirus Quarantine is on creating a Safe Spot for your puppy dog and training him to LOVE that spot.
Part 3 – The Everyday Stuff
Part 4 – The Training Stuff
Part 5 – The Other Stuff
Part 6 – Resources
for Preventing Puppy Dog Separation Anxiety During the Coronavirus Quarantine
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Copyright 2020 Caryl Wolff
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Wishing that you stay healthy, stay safe – and stay home.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.
If you need help with puppy or dog training, we are now doing virtual online consultations. Please contact us by calling or texting (310) 804-2392 or sending an email to caryl@DoggieManners.com. We would love to work with you!