Dog anxiety is a tough problem facing a lot of owners. The barking, howling, whining and destroying are what cause most dogs to be sent to the pound and unfortunately euthanized. It’s a sad trend, but hopefully I can give you some information to help you cure dog anxiety.
So I have a video for you today. This video is a bit long, but packed with good information on curing dog anxiety. I’ll give you a synopsis below the video, in case you don’t want to watch the whole thing.
In this video, we learn very positive training methods for getting rid of dog anxiety. I think it leans almost a little too positive and I’ll explain why later. Start at the 1:00 mark and end around 10:50 to avoid the ads.
Cure Dog Anxiety Video –
Separation Anxiety: Does your dog go crazy when you leave? Here’s what to do!
Zak’s method to cure dog anxiety is very positively based. He avoids the use of any kennel or crate, bark collars or similar for the dog he is training. He uses treats to reinforce the behavior he is looking for. He has the owners speak to the dog and calm him before they leave. Very positive reinforcement to discourage the anxiety.
Here’s the video in a nutshell:
Twice a day over ten minutes, practice like this: Put the dog in the room you would like to confine him in. Pet the dog and calmly tell him you’re going to leave and it will be okay. Shut the door. Count to three and if the dog has been quiet, go in and pet and reward the dog with praise and petting. Very slowly increase the amount of time that you leave over the days until you can leave. Don’t rush this step.
If it is hard for you to get the dog to be quiet for any amount of time, you can use a Kong stuffed with treats or peanut butter or chicken broth to keep them distracted. This is more of a placeholder behavior, however and your dog will likely just not notice you’re gone, rather than associate the treats with you being gone. However, it buys you time if you need to go to the store or something.
Exercise your dog. In this case, he says play fetch before you leave for a long amount of time or take a short walk/jog if you have a low energy dog, but a treadmill may also be a worthwhile investment. You might have to play around and find the right exercise to tire your dog out and keep him from being anxious.
He makes the point too that if you’re in need of a temporary fix, doggy daycare would be a wise investment as you work on curing the dog anxiety problems.
I disagree with him not using the crate to help lower the dog’s anxiety. Though the owners say the dog was confined to the crate a lot at his former owner’s home, the dog can still be trained that the crate is a relaxing place to be with treats and appropriate crate training. Dogs also generally feel much safer confined in a dark, quiet warm place. The training he uses with confining the dog to a room can easily be transferred to a crate. It’s important that every dog be crate trained, in my opinion, and this is especially important if you have a destructive dog with anxiety! A dog can be put in an open crate while you’re home and still have freedom then so he can have a positive association. I feel like this would be very helpful in all cases to cure dog anxiety.
I also think he needs to be more clear about the petting the dog and saying “It’ll be ok” before you leave. This is a questionable method, IMO, because it can a) act as a signal to the dog that THEY’RE LEAVING!! and cue anxiety, or b) if the dog is already acting anxious and you pet them, you are reinforcing the anxious behavior.
The downside to his dog anxiety training method is that it feels limited and he mentions it will take time. It will definitely take time and dedication to do it this way, but it is a very positive way of training. Keep an eye out for future posts on this subject as we explore it further.
This video should be a good start for you to build a good toolbox of ideas for curing dog anxiety. Has anything not mentioned here worked for you for your dog’s anxiety? Do you agree or disagree with these ideas?