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Dog separation angst journal

May 9, 2011

We live in a city and there is constant noise outside the house. There are cars, people walking, lawn mowers, trash trucks, mailmen, skateboards, etc. We live in an apartment, so every person coming up the path is not coming to our apartment. I am home full time and have been watching our puppy learn and curbing noise successfully, but I know he is only learning to curb this noise when I am around. I worry he will be board and barking at everything.

They say that the key to teaching our dog to cope with being alone is to teach him to play alone and self calm. Easier said than done. You are going against a dog’s nature and asking it to ignore its instincts. Dogs are wolves and we forget this when it comes to keeping them as pets. Your lifestyle is not wolf-like, unless you have all day family time running, howling, playing, killing, digging, swimming, etc. Why should the dog stay home alone while everyone else leaves. If locked up alone and howling for you to return, doesn’t this make sense? He is checking in with you – he don’t have a cell phone. He may understand that he has been abandoned by the pack because he is weak or rejected. This is how a wolf pack may shake off an unwanted. Is there any wonder dog depression and anxiety is common? I think not.

I have help dogs with severe separation anxiety get over it so they could be adopted. At first the progress is fast because most of these dogs just needed to learn some English so they know how to behave and react. They also typically are under exercised which makes them weak physically and mentally. After a few weeks progress slows down and you think you are progressing. Days can be great and them terrible – back and forth. People who have truly solved this issue don’t go out and get a second dog – that does NOT work. They use all the advice online and loads of patience. If their dog is not severe and exhibiting aggression, they put their dog in a day care so they can get group doggies time. If there dog is too anxious for daycare, they hire a noon dog walker that will take their dog on a pack walk. If the dog is large this dog will typically be taken to the woods for an off leash run. Everyone reports the refocusing this negative energy and teaching the dog that you will always return takes 3mos-1year, assuming all people get with the dog’s reprogramming plan. For the first month someone is needed full time. Drugs are commonly used in conjunction if severe cases.

My present challenge is to raise a puppy in an urban environment, so that it never develops separation anxiety. I worry because he is so adorable and I can’t help holding and squeezing him. I am breaking the off-the-couch rule and sure this will drive me nuts later. I have to watch him when he is out of the crate because he is still learning what is OK to chew and where potty time takes place. This means, eyes are always on him when he in outside the crate.

Our next step is to get to a place we can leave him relaxed in a crate while we are gone for a few hours. Presently, when I take the trash out and he is alone for a minute, he cries terribly – we have so much teaching to do and it took a week to teach “sit”. He doesn’t not seem terribly bright honestly, but people are always saying they are a super smart breed….hum. I suppose I have to find out what is secret genius is. Perhaps is it sniffing, agility, logic games, or other tricks.

Separation anxiety in pets is a major issue and the number 1 reason they are put to death and given to shelters. This is the first time I will be curbing anxiety in a puppy, rather than reforming an adult. Therefore, I will document everything here and separation anxiety posts will be labeled as such so you can search for help more easily.

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