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Five Steps to Preventing Dog Separation Anxiety

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Back to School Blues

Kids and dogs are often the best of friends. It's no wonder so many dogs get in a tizzy when their diminutive friends go back to school once summer ends. The distress can even lead to separation anxiety in certain dogs, a psychological disorder of hyper attachment that manifests as barking, crying, urination, defecation, and other destructive signs when the dog is left alone in the house.


Here are five simple steps veterinary behaviorist Lisa Radosta recommends for trying to prevent your dog from developing separation anxiety.

1. Ignore the Dog

Do not pay attention to your dog when he follows you or your family around the house. Many attention seeking behaviors, including separation anxiety, can simply be corrected by ignoring them.

2. Play it Cool

Hide all departure cues from your dog so that he or she can’t begin to associate them with your departure or the departure of your kids.

3. Avoid the Meltdowns

Keep your dog from having a full-blown emotional response. This means that he should not be following you to the door when you go to leave. Instead put him in his crate with something really fun to do, well before you or your family are getting ready to leave.

4. Use the Dog Crate

Confine your dog in his crate for 10 to 15 minutes once a day when your family is home. Crate time should be fun, not punishment. This way, time in the crate will not be paired with your family's departure.

5. Make it Fun

Associate your family's departure with something wonderful, like a rare treat that he only gets at that time of day. Also, always ask your pup to sit before you interact with him. This sets up a predictable, structured relationship between you and your pup and helps him to understand how to get attention from you.

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  • separation anxiety
    08/26/2012 04:51pm

    I've done all 5 of your recommendations for a year now and we still have the same problem....any other suggestions?

  • 08/27/2012 03:24am

    My 6year old yorkie has major separation anxiety and yes I am the culprit because I have always spoiler him but its getting him to just stay without barking. I now have to put up a baby gate and leave him two spoons of yogurt put him over the gate and make a run for it. If I don't do this everytime I leave him he will chase me to the door bark uncontrollably and nip at my feet I need serious help.

  • Dog anxiety tips!!
    09/20/2012 02:00pm

    I have a 2 year old Pomeranian that also had these same symptoms. It started off when we left him home alone he would bark and weep constantly, and when left alone he became destructive, Sometimes even got the shakes. We tried several things to solve his separation anxiety. I bought one of those thunder jackets to try a fix this. I found it had no real affect on him, so i decided to look for tips an info and i came across this very helpful website. i recommend giving it a look. I solved most of the problems when applying these methods i found it had good quality information that really helped me and my family.
    http://dogseparationanxiety.com.au/ Hope this helps you as it did for me :)

  • how to read full article
    01/04/2017 07:26pm

    I can't figure out how to read the 6 pages.....first page says 1 of 6 so how do I get to 2-6?

  • Separation Anxiety Causes
    01/06/2017 03:40pm

    As a certified separation anxiety trainer, I am aware that the actual cause of Separation Anxiety is unknown. Unfortunately, sadly, many of the recommendations listed on this page are in fact not going to prevent separation anxiety and if used with a dog who already has problems with being separated from his people or specific person, are likely to make the problems worse and/or injure the dog. (crating a dog who has separation anxiety will not solve it but certainly might make it worse and may injure the dog as her attempts to get out).

    If you would like help with this problem, contact http://malenademartini.com/ and you will have access to a pool of Certified Separation Anxiety Trainers from all around the world.

  • Doggy School
    01/12/2017 01:19am

    I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!