Helping Your Dog with Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a heartbreaking condition that affects about 1 in 6 dogs in the United States. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety can exhibit some or all of the following behaviors when their humans are gone, or even as they are preparing to leave the home:
- Vocalizing, including whining, howling, or barking
- Repetitive licking or chewing of their paws or limbs
- Destructive behaviors, particularly near doors and door jambs, windows and sills, or floors near doors and windows
- Inappropriate elimination
If your dog is showing any of these signs, separation anxiety may be the reason.
What Causes Separation Anxiety?
It isn’t always clear why separation anxiety occurs. Sometimes dogs develop the problem after a stressful event in the home like a fire or burglary. Others struggle after a move, a divorce, a death in the family, or during a beloved family member’s illness. Many dogs seem to simply be predisposed to separation anxiety, and gradually worsen until the behaviors become noticeable.
Don’t worry if you do not you have a clear understanding of what is causing your dog’s separation anxiety. The solution will be based on your dog’s behaviors and their severity, with no need to understand the full reason why.
Is My Dog Just Punishing Me for Leaving?
It can certainly feel like your dog’s separation anxiety symptoms are a way of getting back at you for leaving. This is not the case, though. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety are in a state of panic. They are not in control of their behavior any more than you would be if you were trembling and dry-mouthed about something that terrified you, such as flying across the country, speaking in public, or hearing something unexpectedly go bump in the night.
In addition to the heartbreak and concern, separation anxiety can be extremely frustrating. Your understanding and empathy are among the most important gifts you can give your dog as you work through their fears. We understand the complicated mix of emotions that separation anxiety can cause pet parents, which is why we bring a deep respect, empathy, and patience — for both you and your dog — to the training process.
Is There Any Hope?
There is absolutely hope! Joan Hunter Mayer is a certified separation anxiety trainer (CSAT), which means she has the knowledge, skills, patience, and empathy to help separation-phobic dogs and their owners work through these issues.
While separation anxiety is sometimes seen as a frustratingly intractable problem to solve, CSAT trainers like Joan use proven techniques that have helped hundreds of dogs already. Separation anxiety training will help your dog get to a place where they can tolerate and be comfortable during their time alone.
How Does Separation Anxiety Training Work?
As is true of any fear-based behavior, the process involves slowly and incrementally acclimating your dog to your departures, increasing the time you are away at a pace that keeps your dog relaxed and free of fear.
You may be surprised to learn that separation anxiety training is perfectly suited to a virtual/remote coaching model, where your sessions with Joan occur over a video chat service like Skype or Zoom. Taking the trainer out of the picture entirely helps pet parents work with their dogs in a setting that feels natural to the dog, closely resembling everyday life. You will utilize this same technology to keep tabs on your dog during your absences, to make sure you aren’t trying to do too much too soon.
If technology isn’t your thing, don’t worry! These services are easy to use with any computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Getting started is simple:
- Contact Joan by filling out this specific separation anxiety prospective client questionnaire to schedule your complimentary initial 20-minute phone call. During this time, Joan will learn more about the specifics of your dog’s issues, and address any questions you have about separation anxiety or the training process.
- After that, when it’s time to get started, Joan will develop a customized protocol based on your dog’s particular behaviors, along with the goals you want to achieve. Together, you and she will work together to implement the plan.
- Joan can work with you wherever you are in the world, on a schedule that is convenient for you. Before you know it, you’ll be back to living a calm, peaceful life with a dog who is happy that you’re home, but is secure, confident, and able to enjoy their “me time” while you are gone.