Humans have spent hundreds of years selecting, breeding, and training dogs to WANT to be with us. Is it any wonder that 20% to 40% of dogs presented to veterinary behavioral specialists present with symptoms of separation anxiety? Likely no dog truly enjoys being left alone but for some dogs it is terrifying. These dogs have separation anxiety, and they need help to overcome the panic they are experiencing. A specially educated dog trainer can be a family’s best resource when working with their SA dog.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Dogs with SA are unable to find comfort when they are left alone or separated from their family members. The dog with SA is experiencing a panic attack. They are not being “bad”, vengeful, or trying to cause trouble. This anxiety often manifests itself in undesirable behaviors; these behaviors are the dog’s attempt to escape the terrifying situation and to reach their human(s).
What are Separation Anxiety Signs in Dogs
Dogs with separation anxiety are extremely fearful and anxious when their trusted family member is absent, and when left alone, may react with nervous or destructive behaviors, such as:
- Obvious anxiety as you prepare to leave
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Excessive vocalization
- Excessive drooling
- Inappropriate elimination
- Obsessive attempts to escape a crate or room
- Destruction of flooring, walls, or furniture
- Self-harm, particularly to the feet and toenails, from escape attempts
Separation anxiety is more serious than a bit of whining when you leave the house, or your dog mischievously chewing up your favorite shoe while you are gone—the condition is a serious behavior problem that causes significant stress and anxiety to affected dogs.
How is SA Treated?
SA is treatable but it is a commitment. Basically, the affected dog’s family works to desensitize the dog to being left alone. This entails figuring out a baseline of how long your dog is “comfortable” with being alone and using that baseline information to set up short-duration absences (training sessions) to teach the dog that they CAN handle being left alone. The goal is to ALWAYS keep the dog under the threshold or not exhibiting signs of SA. For some dogs, that might be a training session of less than 1 minute. We start with an absence the dog can handle.
Because the presence of a certified dog trainer in the home would change or affect the dog’s behavior, the trainer will work with the dog’s family via Zoom meetings. The dog’s family will use cameras (phones, tablets, etc.) to view the dog when they go out of the door. Gradually, the dog begins to be comfortable with longer absences.
Meet your life line to help your dog learn to be alone. Dawn Olson, is an emBARK instructor, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Separation Anxiety Pro Trainer (SA Pro Trainer), a Fear Free Certified Trainer, and a Family Paws Educator. Dawn brings to you a lifetime of dog knowledge, multiple credentials, a professional background of 20+ years in science education, a commitment to ongoing continuing education and a unique specialization in treating dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
Separation Anxiety Packages:
- First Step: Introductory Discovery Call (30 minutes via Zoom): $50 (Schedule Introductory Call here to determine if your dog is a candidate for Separation Anxiety help)
- Initial Consultation (90 minutes via Zoom): $125 (includes assessment and follow up plan for dogs who have been assessed in an introductory discovery call) (Schedule Initial Consultation here)
- 30 Day Program (21 day custom plan + one weekly 30 minute Zoom and video assessment): $525
- Support Package (four weeks of weekly zoom and weekly video assessments): $285
- Former S/A Clients Continuing Support Check In sessions (30 minute Zoom session): $50