Does my pup have Separation Anxiety?

Separation Anxiety is a common label used to describe a myriad of separation-related problem behaviors. Under the umbrella term "Separation Anxiety" falls isolation distress, confinement anxiety, lack of alone time experience, and a frustration/FOMO response to alone time. My approach to alone time success is beneficial for pups experiencing any of these separation related problem behaviors (SRPBs). A clinical diagnosis of separation anxiety can only be provided by your veterinarian and/or a veterinary behaviorist.

Do I need to use medical intervention?

This is a very common question amongst potential clients. I have seen success with pups both on and off of medical intervention. As a Separation Anxiety specialist I am not qualified to make medication and/or dosage recommendations, but I am happy to work alongside your veterinarian and/or veterinary behaviorist to maximize success and create lasting behavior change.

How long does it take to work through an SA protocol?

Though I have hundreds of spreadsheets consisting of data collection from all of my graduated clients, it is not possible to predict how long it will take to reach your goals. Every client I have worked with starts at a different threshold duration and progresses through my protocol at their own pace. 

Should we use food during alone time?

I absolutely LOVE and recommend mental enrichment (Kongs, food puzzles, etc.) for almost every behavior case I take on... EXCEPT for Separation Anxiety. When we first get started on a protocol it is very important that we are getting a realistic picture of our pup's overall comfort. Food/treats can often times act as a distractor therefore we do not get a good read on the pup's actual comfort levels. We can absolutely add mental enrichment back into your pup's alone time regimen once we attain a solid level of comfort with absences themselves.

Do you recommend shock/bark collars?

Now this one is easy... NO!! There is no place for punishment when we are working on changing an underlying emotional response and/or fear/phobia. Shock/bark collars are often used to suppress the symptoms/behaviors that come along with SRPBs (barking, whining, etc.). When we focus on suppressing symptoms rather than addressing the underlying emotional state we risk making matters worse. Just think about this... if you were afraid of spiders and I put spiders in your bed then proceeded to shock you every time you screamed or attempted to escape, would that change the way you felt about spiders? Likely not... in fact, you might even end up even more fearful of spiders. In addition to your increased fear, you might even avoid getting into your bed in general!

I was told to let my pup cry it out, is this your method?

Another easy one... NO!! When we are looking at changing the way a pup feels about a scary situation (in this case, alone time) we need to ensure that we are only moving as quickly as they are comfortable. Allowing a pup to go into an increased state of stress we risk not creating lasting behavior change, and sometimes even risk making matters worse.