Woody: Separation Anxiety Case Study
No dog owner wants to see their dog suffer through anxiety. For some cases of anxiety, the presence of the owner can help soothe the dog and make them feel more comfortable. But what if the owner cannot be there all the time to comfort the dog in these stressful moments? Or what if the mere separation of the owner is a major trigger for the dog’s anxiety?
Of course most dogs prefer to be with their people versus than being on their own, but these dogs shouldn’t be anxious or losing their minds just because they are alone for a few hours of the day or night. Separation anxiety is a common problem that pops up for dogs, and many owners are at a loss on how to address this severe issue.
Separation anxiety stems from a lack of confidence and fear of being without the owner. Before doing anything else, the first step is confronting this issue. Lack of confidence can be created from a number of things – lack of leadership, lack of positive associations, no positive exposure to being alone, no communication of boundaries, etc. Once we combat the confidence and fear problems, everything after that will be very simple.
Last month, I met Woody, who was a SEVERE separation anxiety case. Woody would not only cry non-stop and disturb his owner’s neighbors, but he also managed to break a hole through the front door and escape! Luckily, he was found unharmed roaming in the apartment building, but the owner had to replace their door and also figure out how to get Woody to be more comfortable in the home and on his own. That’s when I stepped in and at the initial in-home consultation, it was decided that Woody needed several dramatic changes in his lifestyle, particularly his exercise levels (“a tired dog is a happy, well-behaved dog!”) and his ability to have full range of the apartment home.
Crate training is not only used for potty training, but if used appropriately, the crate can be used to create confidence within the dog by giving them a positive “safe place” of their own. At first, Woody was very confused with the crate, but we did everything we can to make it a positive and comfortable place for him. When he acclimated to his new spot, we then worked on using this as an additional tool for the training exercises involving the separation of his owner. Woody learned more and more than crying and trying to break out of the home was no longer an option, and he also learned over time, that it wasn’t even necessary. This and along with a consistent schedule, Woody felt more secure in his crate, and he learned that his owner was not abandoning him, and that he as a dog could feel confident and happy, even on his own!
Separation anxiety can be a very difficult problem to overcome, but it IS possible to achieve confidence and behavioral balance with your dog! If you have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, be it mild or severe, call me at 800-649-7297 and we’ll get you and your dog set up for success with our dog training programs!