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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Separation Anxiety?

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Two dogs

Canine separation anxiety is when a dog feels such fear when being left alone that it can turn into sheer panic. It’s like a human having a phobia like a fear of flying or spiders which can escalate into a full blown panic attack.  Physiologically, they have no control over it. To a dog, being home alone may be full fledged fear because they don’t have the logic to understand they’re safe. Separation anxiety is when a dog can not be apart from his owner. Isolation Distress is when he doesn't like to be alone but any human will suffice.

          How do you know if they have it? 


           1. Excessive barking, whining, crying and howling
           2. Chewing or destroying floors, walls and doors, particularly  around entrances
           3. Frantic attempts to escape, sometimes to the point of self harm
           4. Soiling, especially when dog is otherwise housetrained
           5. Getting anxious well before owner leaves.

They don't need to exhibit all of these, just one or two could signify separation anxiety.

How is it Treated?

It's treated through a process called gradual exposure therapy, or desensitization, which is exposing your dog to home-alone time in miniscule increments, at a threshold he can handle. This is a science-based, evidence-based, proven method for treating this disorder and other phobias. We are seeking to change his feelings about home-alone time. We want to change his association regarding home-alone time from "this is super scary" to "this isn't so bad and I can handle it"!

Can't I Let my Dog Bark it Out?

No, barking it out will not resolve the issue for the vast majority of these dogs.  They aren't behaving badly when left alone, they are panicking.  If you leave them to bark it out, they will  fear being left alone more and more every time and the phobia can absolutely worsen. Compare it to my extreme phobia of spiders. If you threw me in a room infested with thousands of spiders and shut the door, I would not "get over it", I would panic even more and my phobia would worsen.

Will giving a food toy work to distract my dog?

We don't use food in our treatment protocol. This is because typically the dog is too stressed to eat.  For those who may eat, once the food or Kong is gone, then the panic sets in once they realize they are alone. So the food hasn't made them any less anxious, it only temporarily distracted them and then they fall apart once the food is gone. Instead we need to make them feel more comfortable being home alone without the use of food.

Why is home-alone training done remotely?

With training for separation related behaviors, we do all of it remotely because the dog's anxiety is set off by you leaving your house. Having the trainer in the home can actually hinder the training, because it's not the norm, our presence would be a distraction, and we need to set up the training to mimic your real-life absences. This remote method is the most effective, it allows us to treat dogs from anywhere geographically, and it allows flexibility in scheduling as well!

What kind of technology do I need for this training?

Basically you just need some type of camera that you can watch your dog on from outside the house. It can be a webcam on a laptop or tablet, or a separate camera that you can view via a smartphone app. There are plenty of very affordable choices online, such as Wyze Cam. You also need a method of keeping time. Some of the cameras have this built-in, or you can use a stopwatch or an old phone to keep tabs on the time. If you're technology challenged, don't worry!  I will coach you through it!

How do I know this will work for my dog?

This is the same scientific, evidence-based method used to treat human phobias and gives the dog the best possible chance to learn to feel okay about being home-alone.  However no behavior treatment is guaranteed since there are too many variables - each dog is an individual, and it also depends so much on the owner adhering to and committing to the protocol.  However, this exact method, when done correctly, has helped thousands of dogs overcome their fear of being home alone.

How long will it take to cure my dog?

We have no way of predicting exactly how long it will take for your dog to overcome separation anxiety. But this specialized type of training is a marathon and not a sprint, so it's best to think of it in terms of months, not weeks, therefore we don't guarantee your dog will be "cured" in the timeframe of the training package you select. You will need to continue the training beyond the training package, with or without my support.  In this line of training, our motto is "slow is the new fast" as it's critical to build a foundation that will last and not crumble later on.

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