How To Use Dog Behavior Modification Techniques For Separation Anxiety In Dogs

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If your canine friend is showing signs of separation anxiety in dogs, there are several dog behavior modification techniques you can use to change his behavior. 

How To Handle Mild Cases Of Dogs With Separation Anxiety

The most important thing to do is to keep your comings and goings low-key.  If your dog is overly excited when you come home, and jumps around in happiness at your return for more than a minute, this isn’t a good thing. 

Many dog owners make the mistake of encouraging their dogs to get worked up when they come home.  It seems harmless, but what you’re really doing is reinforcing his belief that your coming home is the highest point of the day.  The problem is that when you need to leave again, it makes it even harder for him to see you go.

Try leaving your dog with a piece of clothing that has your scent on it.  Dogs with separation anxiety often find it reassuring to sleep on an old sweatshirt or t-shirt that you’ve worn recently.

Without knowing it, you’ve already established “safety cues” for your dog.  A safety cue is an action you take upon leaving that tells your dog you’ll be back soon.  For example, when your dog sees you going out with the trash, he knows you’ll be right back, and he doesn’t get upset.

A good technique is to use safety cues with your dog.  If you know you’re going to be gone for a short time, you can leave the radio or tv on, or give him a certain toy to play with.  Use these safety cues when you’re practicing with your dog so he gets to know what they are. 

Be careful though.  If you try using a safety cue like leaving the radio on for longer than your dog is used too, it won’t work any more.  These cues are useful for shorter absences. 

Dog Behavior Modification For More Severe Cases

If your buddy has a severe case of separation anxiety in dogs, you may want to try these dog behavior modification techniques.  Keep these sessions short, but do them several times a day.

Start by putting on your coat and grabbing your car keys like you usually do when you leave, but then sit down.  Repeat this until your dog isn’t bothered by it.  Next, you’ll do these things and go to the door and open it, and then sit back down.  Again, keep doing it until your dog shows no interest.

Next, go out through the door, leaving it open, and then come back in.  The next step is to go though the door, and close it behind you.  Immediately come back in.  Progress to staying outside for a few minutes and coming back. 

Remember to keep your exits and returns very low-key.  You don’t want your dog to get excited that you’re back.  His attitude should be, “ho-hum, it’s you again.”  If your dog gets upset at any point, you’re going too fast.  Go back to any earlier step, and start again.

You can see how you’re desensitizing your dog by teaching him that you can go away for longer and longer periods of time and still return safely.


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