FAQs about Dog Separation Anxiety
What are signs of separation anxiety in dogs?
If your dog has separation related behaviors that only exist when the dog is alone or get worse when the dog is alone, it is an indication that the dog is most likely experiencing anxiety.
If your dog keeps barking when left alone, or whines and howls it is a strong indication of separation anxiety. Some additional behaviors include an inability to settle, destructive behavior, urination and defecation, vomiting.
Some dogs are fine as long as they are with any human, and some are so deeply attached to their person or people they panic when not with them, even if they aren't alone.
Read my blog post Signs Your Dog is Anxious for more extensive information.
What is the best best way to cure separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety dog trainers use a method called desensitization. It's the same method clinicians use to treat people with phobias, and is scientifically proven to resolve canine separation anxiety.
Desensitization works by exposing your dog to owner absences only for a length of time that doesn't trigger their anxiety. Incrementally the absences are increased, but always keeping the dog from exhibiting anxious behavior.
Additionally, other issues may be causing your dog stress and increasing your dog's separation anxiety. Those issues will also be addressed to help your dog.
Blog post Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Can dog separation anxiety be cured?
Separation anxiety can be cured with the right treatment.
Because the dog panics when left alone, we need to teach them that being alone isn’t scary through a process called desensitization. By never leaving the dog alone for longer than they can handle, and gradually increasing their alone time as they start to feel comfortable we build up the dog’s tolerance to absences. For some dogs the starting point may just be getting them to feel comfortable with the owner approaching the door without actually leaving.
There is an 80% success rate with appropriate training.
For a more detailed explanation please read my blog post Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs on this subject.
What technology is needed?
For our consultation meetings you will need a computer with good internet access and the Zoom app. The Zoom app is free and will not require you to purchase a subscription.
For your own training you should have a camera you can use to observe your dog on your phone when you leave. This could be as simple as your laptop or camera pointed at your door and connected to your phone by Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc. Or you could invest in a camera such as Ring or Wyze and use it as a dedicated separation anxiety training camera.
Blog post Cameras Help with Dog Separation Anxiety
What if I need to leave my dog home alone?
I know it’s a lot to ask that a dog NEVER be left alone during this process. The problem is that if the dog experiences anxiety during long absences it will greatly diminish the progress of training. (Blog post Leaving Your Dog Home Alone.) If sometimes your dog feels safe with your absence because you're only leaving such a short amount of time it doesn't trigger anxiety, but other times your absence is so long your dog goes into panic mode, it creates difficulty in reframing the experience for the dog. The lack of predictability will make it difficult for the dog to feel safe when alone.
Consider ways that you might be able to manage through doggy daycare, a dog sitter, a neighbor or relative who may be willing to watch your dog. I can help you brainstorm other ways to make it work.
If you truly do not have other alternatives I will be happy to work with you by modifying the training plan, and help in every way I can.
Why are sessions remote instead of in person?
Because your dog’s anxiety exhibits when alone, it’s better that I’m not physically there so that I can see what’s going on during your absences.
Research shows that remote consultations for dog separation anxiety are just as effective in resolving it as in-person consultations.
Through Zoom meetings I can coach you through your training and observe your dog when you leave. This way we are setting up the training exercise in as real as way as possible.
How long does it take for a dog to get over separation anxiety?
Unfortunately there isn’t any way to know. Each dog is an individual and results will depend on your dog, your household and your training. Realize that when we’re talking about working with a panic disorder it takes time and won’t be resolved quickly. Think months, not weeks. However, as you progress you’ll start to get your life back. Initially it could be as small as going out to get the mail without your dog accompanying you, to running a quick errand, to meeting a friend for lunch.
Can you guarantee my dog will get over separation anxiety?
Unfortunately there are no guarantees as every dog is different. However, there is a high degree of success with using desensitization for treating separation anxiety.
Where are you located?
I am located in Wisconsin between Milwaukee and Madison, near Watertown. Because my services in treating canine separation anxiety are provided remotely through Zoom consultations, I can take clients from anywhere in the United States.
How much do your services cost?
I have a variety of packages that offer different pricing depending on the level of support you feel you need. Specific details on fees and services can be found on my Pricing and Packages page.