Monday, February 23, 2015

Client Chronicles: Lady's Story - A Tale of Canine Separation Anxiety Disorder, Part 2

Lady's Story
A Tale of Canine Separation Anxiety Disorder
Part 2

5 Things Lady's Owners Learned About Separation Anxiety Training

One of the most common issues I treat is Separation Anxiety Disorder. What does Zen Dog Training do that’s different from other trainers? To help explain, I invited one family to share their story. 

"We've been working with Alexis for a few months now. Here are a handful of the the things we've learned: 

Crate training isn't always best. A dog may not destroy an apartment if they're locked away, but anxiety in a crate is simply anxiety redirected if training doesn't go along with the crate. A dog could develop other bad habits, including causing harm to themselves trying to get out of the crate. 

Bark collars don't help either. At least not when it comes to separation anxiety. You're still gone, and the dog is still panicked about being alone. Maybe instead of barking, she starts shredding a couch. The bark collar doesn't address the deeper issues. 

A calm space -- that's the key. A dog appropriately crate-trained should see the crate as a safe space for himself. Why not create that safe mindset around a dog's bed, with the comforting walls of a baby gate? Done right, the dog can be trained to see the bed and gate combo as a fun game -- that they play, calmly, while you leave. 

(Bonus: For a big dog it's often easier to find space for a bed + gate combo in an apartment than the right size crate). 

Body language matters. I had no idea that dogs read so much of our body language. When training Lady, Alexis instructed my husband to put her treats on the floor, and not feed her from his hand. This way Lady doesn't look to his hand for cues, but rather focuses on what she is meant to do to earn the morsels -- in this case, walk to her bed and lie down. 

Timelines vary widely. I admit I'm frustrated with this dog. A lot. I would like this anxiety problem fixed yesterday. But I would be even more frustrated if a trainer had promised us a quick fix that proved unrealistic. Every dog has a different biology and a different history, and therefore it makes sense that each dog requires a different time frame for success. I certainly appreciate this realistic approach. I'd rather go through the correct steps designed to give Lady the best chance of success than throw away time and money on promises of quick fixes that don't work or make the problem worse. Thanks to Alexis, I understand why Lady does the things she does, and why it's important for the dog's development and behavior. Finally, I feel like we're on the right track."

Stay tuned for more posts from Lady's owners sharing their story as they work with Zen Dog Training on Lady's severe separation anxiety.


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