Do you remember that precise moment when you discovered your dog had separation anxiety?
I recently asked members of my separation anxiety support group how they felt when they first found out. For me, it was being told by my neighbour that my dog barked the whole time I was out.
Like many of you have no doubt, I was hoping it would just go away. But it doesn't go away on its own. And you need to know what you can do about it.
You also need to know exactly what separation anxiety is. It's a phobia, a panic disorder. It's not your dog being mad or bad.
Most dogs with separation anxiety are fine as long as another person is with them. And doesn't have to be you. They are usually fine at daycare or with a dogsitter too.
We don't exactly know why some dogs get it and others don't.
Lots of dogs get up to stuff at home but are not anxious. We call these behaviours separation-related not separation anxiety.
So how can you tell the difference?
You're looking for one of 3 big signs: excessive barking/howling, chewing or destroying around entryways, and a house trained dog who soils only when you're out.
Your dog doesn't have to display all three of these symptoms. It could just be one or maybe none of these and your dog's separation anxiety may present differently.
But you need to set up a camera on your dog to find out for certain.
Once you've confirmed it is separation anxiety, there are some things you need to do and some things you absolutely DO NOT want to do.
I tried so many things that didn’t work. But the one thing that does work is gradual exposure. To work, gradual exposure needs to be done properly though.
When you do it right it tells the dog that being on his own is safe.
While you’re doing separation anxiety training you do need to find a way not to leave your dog. This is only temporary though, and it makes ALL the difference to the success of training.
In a way, I'm glad Percy's separation anxiety helped me discover evidence-based dog training.
Now that I'm a certified dog trainer I want to make sure you get the right information to get your dog over separation anxiety. I want to make sure you aren't as confused as I was.
Remember, separation anxiety isn't a hopeless condition. Do the right things and there's a really good chance you can get your dog over this.