SEPARATION ANXIETY – SECURITY

As discussed is a previous article, dogs with a secure attachment to at least one person are less likely to suffer from separation anxiety, as long as the dog isn’t isolated too early.  The longer you spend with your dog whilst he’s young, the more secure he’ll feel.

He’ll also need his own space in which he feels secure.  If your dog doesn’t chose to go to his bed or crate, then it’s unlikely to be his safe haven, so the first thing you need to do it give him a really great place to call his own.

In this article I’m going to use the term crate, but it’ll refer to anywhere that you’d like your dog to feel safe.

His crate is not a place for children, not matter how friendly your dog is.

His crate needs to be really comfortable, big enough for him to stretch out and ideally be covered.

The crate should not be used as a prison/punishment as this  will negate the good associations that you are going to form.

Your dog should think that his crate has magical properties as every time he passes it he smells a really good treat in it.  He’ll be rewarding himself for going into the crate.  It’s even better if he has to sniff out the treat, as sniffing releases serotonin – the happy chemical, oxytocin – the bonding hormone, and dopamine which promotes optimism and learning.

When your dog goes into his crate voluntarily, rain some treats down next to him, thereby rewarding him for going into the crate and forming positive associations with the crate.

Close the crate door with the puppy on the outside. Show the pup some treats and sprinkle them inside the crate. Encourage the pup to sniff at the treats. Build up the excitement until the pup is desperate to get into the crate. Open the door for the pup and leave it open while he eats the treats.

Never leave your dog confined for longer than his bladder will allow.  Dogs do come pre-programmed not to toilet close to where they sleep, but will if they have no choice.  The taboo of toileting close to the bed will soon disappear if the pup is desperate.  The dog needing to toilet is thought to be a major contributor to separation anxiety.