What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety (SA) is an anxiety and panic disorder. Just like humans with anxiety or a phobia, your dog is not in control of their emotions or behaviour when anxiety or panic takes over. He or she is not being naughty, destructive, or noisy by choice, they are truly panicked by being left alone. 

Common symptoms of separation anxiety are barking, whining, howling (vocalisations); destructive behaviours such as chewing, digging, scratching, particularly around exit doors; self-mutilation (excessive licking or chewing of self) and weeing and pooing in the house (elimination) when he or she is housetrained and normally clean indoors. These behaviours are all outside your dog’s control when they are in the anxiety/ panic bubble.

This poor little pug dog is so distressed they have effectively shut down in their misery.  This demonstrates a severe case of separation anxiety.

Why does it happen?

There are studies to suggest that there may be a genetic predisposition to SA. Some breeds are more likely to suffer anxiety on separation from their humans, although SA can occur in any dog. 

For some dogs, an event happens to trigger SA, such as a frightening event which happens while their guardian is absent, e.g., an unexpected and unfamiliar loud noise within or outside the home. We know through studies that dogs who suffer from noise sensitivity, also have a higher incidence of SA. A change of circumstance, e.g., a house move or a change in the family group can also be connected to the beginning of SA, but in many cases, an actual cause is not able to be determined.

What we do know is that you have not made your dog this way. It is a myth that if you mollycoddle your dog too much, give them cuddles, let them sleep on your bed, give them the support they need when the ask for it, they will be a candidate for SA. That’s not true. You should not feel you are responsible for the anxiety your dog is suffering.

Will it go away on its own?

No, it will not go away on its own. Like humans with anxiety and phobias, unless correctly treated, SA will usually get worse, not better over time. 

Getting another dog is often advised as a way to help a dog with SA. Let’s press pause here. SA is a condition where a dog suffers anxiety when they are separated from their human family. Another dog will commonly not help this situation, and there is a real risk is that the new dog becomes anxious as well, which complicates an already complicated situation.

Is there hope?

Absolutely, there is hope. The good news is that dogs can learn to be alone without anxiety or panic.

The method used is systematic desensitisation, the same method used successfully for human sufferers of anxiety and phobia. It’s not a quick fix and will require commitment from you to undertake a daily training protocol (5 days a week) with your dog.

My job is to be your expert trainer, mentor, coach and cheerleader through this process.

Your personalised and tailored SA programme

The wonders of modern technology enable me to connect with you remotely. This has several advantages:

What does training include?

The initial 4-week training plan includes:

Professional fees for SA training

Initial Consult: Free of charge

Initial Assessment: £100

4-week intensive training Phase I: £375

4-week Phase II and subsequent training phases: £350

Ad hoc advice and support: £40 per 30 minutes

Other bespoke training and support packages available. 

Following on from the initial 4 weeks training, you can choose to extend training for another 4 weeks, or longer.  However, you may feel that you have acquired sufficient knowledge and grasp of the protocol to continue on your own.  If this is your choice I will tailor training to support you going solo.  I can also provide ad-hoc support to keep you and your dog on track should you wish it.

BOOK NOW to arrange your initial 30-minute free call with me to discuss how the SA programme can help you and your dog.

Happy dogs = happy homes

Let me help you free yourself and your dog from a life limited by anxiety.  I can create a personalised and tailored Separation Anxiety treatment plan for you and your dog, and help you both back to enjoying life together.

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