Separation problems with dogs - BarnetDoes your dog cry, whine and scratch at the door when you leave the room?
Do the neighbours comment that your dog barks for long periods of time when you leave home?
Does your dog chew doors and windows, or urinate or defecate when you leave her alone?
I can help with these common problems and have been helping many in the Barnet area - and I can help you too.
When dogs come to live with us, we need to teach them how to feel safe and content and relaxed when alone. Naturally when living in their loose groupings of canine companions, they are seldom alone. This can be an unrecognised problem if the dogs are silently not coping, but it can also lead dogs to bark, howl and cause a lot of damage not only to your home but also to themselves. Dogs can suffer from a mild case of separation distress, or from a full-blown panic attack. They all need help and some will take longer than others, but according to Malena de Martini, who has specialised in this area, 75% of dogs can be helped. That is very good news.
The story of Alfie illustrates how this problem can be helped. For privacy, I have changed the names, and this is a very brief overview. Each case will be different as each dog and family is unique.
Alfie came to his lovely new home at 8 weeks and struggled with separation from Day 1. Tony could not leave him without Alfie trying to follow and crying outside all doors. Even though Alfie had had excellent puppy training sessions with a great force free trainer and learned many skills, his underlying anxieties and fears of being alone continued. I met Alfie when he was 6 months old. He was a happy puppy when with Tony, but become immediately anxious as soon as he moved away or out of view.
When leaving Alfie, Tony had been giving him Kongs filled with food, which was a very good idea, but Tony’s astute observation showed this was not enough and in fact was backfiring at this point in the training: “Alfie is calm until the food is finished although I now believe that giving the stuffed Kong is a trigger for a scary absence for him!”
For the past 2 months Tony had not left Alfie alone at all which helped prevent Alfie’s levels of anxiety from escalating, and is the basis of the programme. Tony was able to leave Alfie with his daughter and Alfie’s brother whenever he needed to go out. This worked very well as the first step is to introduce Alfie to the smallest of absences while not actually leaving him alone and to build up from there.
We began with a programme of teaching Alfie to relax on a mat and then taking this mat wherever he went. The pace of the sessions was led by Alfie, as helping him feel confident and calm when alone was the priority. We also helped to start increasing Aflie's confidence through a variety of interactivefood games, giving them when Tony was around as these also taught Alfie that distance from Tony meant he could still have fun and do something very rewarding.
We made sure that everyday Alfie had the opportunity to learn something new, to practise training games, to enjoy his interactive food games and I also showed Tony how to do a few basic Tellingon Touches. This mindful approach to training dogs helps us become more observant of dogs as we monitor what we do according to what the dog is communicating. TTouch can help dogs (and all species) to release tension in their bodies, which in turn can help overall emotions.
Tony kept a diary of all Alfie’s barking, toileting, chewing behaviours, to determine all his triggers and basic needs and put this up on the fridge.
He also prepared spread sheets every day which were helpful in noting patterns in Alfie’s behaviour and adjusting accordingly. We spoke very regularly so I could support Tony and Alfie as separation related problems can take many months or longer to resolve, and to tweak the programme when necessary.
Tony worked on the programme for 5 or 6 days a week. It was important to have days off every week, and to always work at Alfie’s pace. Tony became an expert at reading dog body language, and so learning how relaxed or not, Alfie was at each stage.
This combination worked very well with Alfie. It did take many months and Tony was able to ensure that Alfie was never left alone for any length of time while we worked on the programme and began to build in moments of separation, and to increase them at Alfie's pace. Now, he can leave Alfie for up to 4 hours and observe him relaxed or asleep from his dog monitor phone.
If you have a pup or older dog who is suffering from separation related problems in the Barnet area, contact me now to help you.
Prices vary according to each case as separation issues are so variable. Please see our dog training London page