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Ask Alecia: Dealing with Separation Anxiety

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ask-alecia-holisticDear Alecia, I bought a dog from a breeder (7 months old now) and had no idea that it has a pretty good case of separation anxiety.  I have been working with this dog for over a month, with behavioral modification, desensitizing and obedience training.  This is all going on with the assistance of vet recommended Prozac. 

I have to crate him when I leave to run an errand (no longer than 30 minutes) because the level of destruction is such that being alone for less than an hour, he managed to jimmy open the latch on his crate, slide the tray out from underneath and dig a hole through the carpet, to the wooden floor below. 

I have tried the little increments of leaving and coming right back in, and in a little over a month, I have only been able to get him to stay quite and calm for no more than 2 minutes and 45 seconds.  I have tried a DAP diffuser and that doesn’t seem to work.  I have to keep turning down work (part time, usually no more than 3 hours) because I am afraid to leave him home, thinking it will destroy any progress we have made.

He won’t leave my side, cries when I shut the bathroom door and makes me feel like a prisoner in my own home.  I feel badly for this dog and I understand that he is afraid, but I am doing everything I have been told to do and am not making much head way.  What else can I do?  I can’t afford $375.00 a visit from a behavior specialist, especially since I am not working.  Does there come a point at which you just do what you can, then put him in the crate and hope for the best?  I am lost. He gets plenty of exercise, so boredom is not an issue. Anything you can tell me would be so very much appreciated. He is a border collie/lab mix. – Tara

Dear Tara,

Separation Anxiety can be a really challenging behavior issue to transform.  But it can transformed.  First let’s take a look from your dog’s perspective at why dog’s develop SA in the first place and then we will work backwards from there.

In my experience from working with lots of Separation Anxiety dogs and pups, I have found that in 9 out of 10 cases there is a bone or a rib (or several) out of alignment in the dogs back or neck. This misalignment causes a bit of a disruption in the natural flow of energy in the central nervous system. When this disruption occurs, the dog or pup is unable to handle excess emotions such as the stress of being alone. I have also found that this type of disruption in normal energy flow can cause lack of confidence in the dog, the result being the separation anxiety.

So now let’s take a look at my Three Prong Approach to Healing Separation Anxiety naturally to dissolve the issue as I can see you have done everything that is normally suggested to address.

The first place I begin is:

1.  a. chiropractic adjustment by a qualified dog chiropractor

b. a skilled body worker that can release the muscle tension in the back that may be pulling bones out of place

The reason for this is that when the body is aligned, much of the excess stress is released and the pup can handle things more easily, without it, your pup will not be able to release his/her own stress naturally

2. My second cornerstone is a proper training foundation.

  • What is your pup’s behavior foundation?
  • Did you do puppy training?
  • Does your pup know sit, down, but most importantly Stay?
  • Do you use a harness or a collar?

This is a big reason why many pups experience SA because if you are allowing them to be the leader in certain situations but they are really not the leader, as a 7-month-old is clearly not, then when you are not there he/she freaks out because they are terrified of being along because they are not able to lead themselves. So I cannot stress enough how vital a proper training foundation is to building confidence and trust for your pup within themselves and with you.

I also recommend using a harness and leash that will provide you and your pup with clear, consistent boundaries in training and on walks.  Clarity and consistency makes a world of difference in your dog being able to be calm and confident in what you are asking of him/her. I prefer the Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System- visit: www.WalkInSync.com

3.  The last cornerstone of my Separation Protocol has to do with using flower essences  to assist your pup in releasing their emotional short- circuiting in an easy, natural, gentle manner.   I use the Bach Flower Essence Line as they are easy to find and work very well.  You can put them in your pup’s water 2x a day and you will see a noticeable difference in just a few short days.   I would use:

  • Rescue Remedy: for immediate stress
  • Heather:  calms separation anxiety
  • Larch:  builds confidence

I suggest you try these natural steps and see how they work to expand your pup’s confidence, clear his/her nervous system and allow him/her to relax.

Paws Up!

Alecia

Do you have a holistic training question for Alecia? Send it in on our online form!  Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes. Don’t miss our interview with Alecia on DOG TRAVEL EXPERTS on the Radio Pet Lady Network!

The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine, DogTipper.com, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.

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