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Separation Anxiety

Is a welfare issue for our dogs that must be treated with care

Churchill a black, white and tanned brown beagle is standing in the woods

Understanding Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a natural evolutionary mechanism found in not only dogs but all social animals, including humans. It serves to protect young individuals from real dangers when left alone or moving too far away from their protective environment. It's an inherited trait that fulfills a specific function, aiding an animal's survival. For instance, when a baby cries out of fear, it helps parents locate them. Independence from parents develops gradually when an animal is biologically and psychologically ready.


What Happens During Separation Anxiety?

Dogs with separation anxiety anticipate threats or dangers that may not always be present or identifiable. This anticipation leads to varying levels of stress, from mild to extreme, depending on their genetics. When their primary caregiver, who provides assurance and safety, departs, they become concerned about their well-being and survival. This anxiety can lead to panic and fear.


Recognizing Signs of Separation Anxiety

  • Pre-departure cues: These signals predict an impending absence and can start when you're preparing to leave or continue after you've left. They include changing clothes, putting on shoes, grabbing keys, or turning on the radio.

  • Observable behaviors: Separation anxiety can manifest as constant lip licking, continuous crying, whimpering, howling, yawning, pacing, self-harm (such as tearing at paws), attempts to escape, crate-breaking, urination or defecation indoors despite being potty-trained, and heavy panting during your absence.


Common Misconceptions About Separation Anxiety

  • You caused it: Separation anxiety is not caused by giving too much love or affection. It's a genetic fear response.

  • It's untreatable: Separation anxiety is treatable with a proper training plan, including medications if necessary.

  • Medications as a last resort: Medications can be an essential part of the treatment plan, not a last resort.

  • Dogs act out of spite: Dogs are not acting out of spite when left alone; they're scared you won't return.

  • Only rescue dogs get it: Any dog, regardless of its origin, can experience separation anxiety.

  • Certain breeds are more prone: Separation anxiety doesn't discriminate between breeds.

  • Leaving them alone sometimes is okay: Consistency is key in training; leaving them alone can set back progress.

  • More exercise cures it: While exercise is essential, it may not cure separation anxiety but can help with boredom.

  • Getting another dog solves it: Getting another dog may not address the underlying anxiety.

  • Crate use is mandatory: Crating may not always be recommended as it can exacerbate confinement anxiety.


Our Separation Anxiety Training Protocol

We employ a desensitization process tailored to your dog's pace and comfort level. This process gradually addresses departure cues and builds tolerance for alone time. We create a daily training plan and track progress in detail, considering factors such as session duration, time of day, and any stressful events.


What's Included?

Our process begins with a 1-hour consultation via Google Meets. We discuss your dog's medical and behavioral history, triggers, and your goals. We also conduct a live assessment of your dog's alone time behavior. Subsequent sessions involve daily training plans (5 days a week) tracked on a spreadsheet. We have weekly live sessions via Google Meets to assess progress, address concerns, and communicate with your vet as needed. You'll also gain access to a supportive training group and daily access to me via WhatsApp Monday to Friday from 10 am to 7 pm.

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