Dog Separation Anxiety Training – How You Can Help Your Dog

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Is separation anxiety in dogs a problem for you and your canine friend?  Is it bad enough that you’re thinking of giving up your dog, or even having him put to sleep?  Don’t despair.  Dog separation anxiety training can help solve this problem.

Dogs And Separation Anxiety

The fundamental point of any dog training program is to establish that you’re the pack leader.  Doing this will nip a lot of dog behavior problems in the bud.  This is important because many dogs with separation anxiety think that they’re the pack leader, or alpha male.  In the wild, the pack leader may leave the pack for a while, but his followers never leave him.

If your dog thinks he’s the alpha male, he’ll get upset when you leave.  He feels responsible for you, and thinks something may happen to you while you’re gone.  

Another issue to avoid is allowing your dog to get too attached to you.  Again, you need to be the pack leader when interacting with a dog struggling with separation anxiety.  You should be the one initiating contact, not him.  

You want to encourage your dog to be more independent.  If there are other people in your household, make sure others are feeding and walking the dog too, so he doesn’t get too dependent on you.  Don’t let your dog sit or sleep within three feet of you.  This means no sleeping on your bed.  If he is already, train him to sleep at the foot of the bed, and then in his own bed.  Eventually move his bed out of your bedroom completely.

Don’t make a fuss when leaving or coming home.  It’s very tempting to encourage your dog to jump around and get excited when you return home, but it’s a bad idea because it reinforces your dog’s notion that your return is the high point of his day.

Dog Separation Anxiety Training

You’ll want to use positive reinforcement techniques to teach your dog that being alone isn’t a bad thing.  Do this by rewarding his good behavior and ignoring bad dog behavior.

An example of this is using the “sit-stay” command.  This can be done many times during the course of the day.  What you want to do is to walk away from your dog and out of his sight while he’s in the “stay” position.  When you come back, if he’s still in the “sit” position, reward him with a favorite treat.  This teaches him that he can be in one place and be happy while you go someplace else.  

You can start this training very easily when you’re watching tv.  You get up for a snack, and tell your dog to “sit-stay.”  When you come back, reward him.  Repeat this as often as you can throughout the day.  Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog, and the length of time he waits for you to return.  

Always reward him with a tasty treat for waiting quietly for your return.  This is the positive reinforcement he receives for waiting quietly for your return.  

If your dog follows you, return him to the “sit-stay” position and work on him staying as you walk away.  Never punish your dog during these sessions, as it will only make him more anxious.

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