Separation Anxiety

Anche i cani provano l'ansia da separazione, non solo gli umani!!!!!!!Pubblico articolo di Kris Crestejo

Dogs are very social animals that naturally do not like to be left alone, this can be troublesome for us humans.

We have to work (well most of us) or we have a life (most of us) and sometimes our lives don't revolve around the dog, we need time away. But what happens when that time away becomes a pain in the butt? Sometimes we start to regret getting the dog in the first place if you knew this would happen, we get frustrated because you can't just waive a wand and have your dog be okay with you leaving and fights can start between a family.

When working with any rescue dog, this is one of the main problems I run into, reason being: dogs that have been abandoned by their owners, then switched to a new environment with new people, then again and again. Some rescues are passed around 7 or 8 times before finding a forever home. No wonder they have separation anxiety! Everytime they possibly became comfortable, they were thrown to the next person and so on. Unfortunately it is sometimes unavoidable and dogs are passed from person to person and the side effects on the dogs' emotional state can be catastrophic for him or her resulting in euthanasia.

Separation Anxiety can be caused by the following

  • Traumatic events in a young dog's life may also increase the likelihood of the development of very strong attachments. These events include; early separation from the mother dog, deprivation of attachment early in life (puppies kept in pet shops or animal shelters), a sudden change of environment (new home, stay at a kennel), a change in owner's lifestyle which results in a sudden end to constant contact with the animal, a long-term or permanent absence of a family member.

Preventative Training
Puppies - Training should be started the day you get your puppy to ensure the dog is conditioned to being left alone and it's not all that bad, the owner always comes back.

TAKE TIME OFF WORK when you get your puppy or rescue. This I can't stress enough, so many people get a puppy then leave it alone at home for 8-10 hours the next day and then for the entire week.

Think about it from the pups perspective; was taken away from it's home with his or her littermates, driven in a weird car then put in a new environment, fell asleep, woke up and saw a couple people then everybody left and the pup is in a brand new place, scared and no one around, what happens.....he panics and the cycle begins.

Week 1

  • Do not leave your puppy alone longer then 4 hours at a time -this should be until he's 4 months old, then you can slowly start increasing time 1 hour per month. (6 months = 6 hours) Maximum a dog should be left alone for is 7-8 hours without access to outside for bathroom break.
  • Condition the dog to you leaving - place a KONG filled with goodies on the ground and walk out the door for a moment and come back in. If the pup is eating the KONG walk out again for a minute and come back in. Repeat increasing the time slowly. By the end of the week you should be able to leave the pup alone for 4 hours without a peep.
Week 2
  • Tire your pup out before planning to leave. Go for a short walk or play a game until the pup is looking tired. Then give him a KONG filled with yummy stuff and leave for a couple minutes, come back in to check how he or she is doing, if they're fine, leave for good this time.
After week 2 your dog should be well adjusted into his or her new home and comfortable being left alone.

Adopted - If you have a rescue, you need to #1 determine if the dog has any separation issues. 
Testing for separation anxiety : This can be done by leaving the dog alone for 15 mins (after you've let the dog settle in for a day or two), leave as you normally would, grab your keys and coat and walk out the door, lock it and move out of sight and BE QUIET. (If you have a camera, place it filming the door or living space where you left the dog). If the dog barks, ignore him or her take note of how long the barking continues for, go back in after 15 minutes as long as the dog is NOT barking, howling, whining, scratching ect. If the dog doesn't stop, call the house (this should interrupt the behaviour) then walk in Next is to figure out a treatment plan with your local Dog Behaviourist or Dog Behaviour Consultant.
If the dog is fine, follow the same preventative treatment for puppies.

This involves slow systematic desensitization, changing the emotional reponse of your dog when you leave, which takes time. Separation anxiety, realistically is very hard to treat because not everybody has the time or freedom from work needed to successfully treat it.

However there are options if you have a busy schedule.
1) Hire a dog walker or friend to come by during the day and follow the same training protocol when they leave. (this helps your dog have 2 or more chances to learn that when someone leaves, they don't leave for a long period of time).
2) Bring your dog to a reputable doggy daycare for the days you can't train with your dog

When you manage the problem (doggy daycare, dog walker) paired with training (systematic desensitization - leaving at short periods at a time) separation anxiety can be quite treatable.

Addestramento cani!!!

Ho conosciuto Kris tramite e-mail, le ho chiesto se potevo pubblicare alcuni articoli che ha scritto sull'addestramento degli animali, perchè ho visto i suoi video e mi sono piaciuti molto!


Kris Crestejo is a certified professional dog trainer who currently serves the Fraser Valley in British Columbia working with owners in private sessions and programs on behavioural issues, obedience and bonding. She is a member of the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) which keeps her up to date on the newest training tools, toys and information in the dog world.

Currently she is involved in Agility, Herding, she instructs Treibball in the Surrey area and soon to get into canine freestyle with her Border Collie Luna.

Specializing in: Shy/fearful dogs, reactive dogs, aggression, un-ruley dog, obedience and trick training.

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