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 Treatment One


FIRST! Get in the habit of coming home with no drama, no matter what you find. If it helps, take your frustration out on a pillow later when your offending best friend can’t hear you. Or, use my favorite reaction when I’m enraged: in a sweet, loving voice I say something like:


“I hate every tiny hair on your furry little body.”


Saying those words, although your tone is full of love and affection, is oh-so satisfying after yet one more piece of bad news in a lousy day.


2. Keep your comings and going low-key. 5 minutes minimum of deference don’t emotionally overload your dog when you come and go. If you act like it’s a major event, why shouldn’t they?


Teach your dog that your coming and going is just no big deal by reviewing the five minute rule in the puppy development center and after the initial session areas of this site under E learning portal. 


3. Begin a desensitization and counter-conditioning procedure to teach your dog to feel good when you walk out.


This is the foundation of treatment, so read this section every morning until it’s second nature! The key RANDOMLY Desensitize the “triggers”: We suggest and advise you to teach your dog to dis-associate the triggers with your departure.


Five times each day, do one trigger at a time, without actually going anywhere. If putting on your coat is a trigger for your dog, then get your coat and ignore your dog completely. Do anything for a minute or two: watch TV, talk on the phone, balance your checkbook — do anything but leave the house. Then take your coat off and continue to ignore your dog. Repeat this whenever you can.

The idea is to teach your dog a new association — that coats, or keys, or hairbrushes, don’t mean much at all. I think that it’s important
to use caution with this method however.


Don’t do this within an hour of leaving, or you might just sensitize your dog to be more
anxious when you actually go.


Super important for  (your dog’s name here)

If your dog has severe Separation Anxiety, be sure to do only one action at a time, and briefly at that — maybe pick up your keys and
then instantly put them down while you’re watching TV.


The trick is to ensure that he/she quickly dis-associates these events with your
actually walking out the door.


ROUTINELY Counter condition the triggers: Most importantly, begin a program that teaches your dog a new association between your
leaving cues and how he feels.

Now that you’ve identified the triggers, figure out what your dog adores that will keep him/her happy while you busy yourself with your keys or coat.


Most dogs respond best to food, stashed away in a hollow toy. The dog has to work to get the food out, so that his attention stays on
the toy for a longer time than if you’d just tossed treats on the floor. And I don’t just mean any old food. You’ve got to get serious here,
so find a food that has the same effect.


Ready the tempting treat while your dog watches you and drools, then put it down and wait for him to become lost in extracting the


Once he’s/she’s fully engaged, perform a brief rendition of one of their triggers — let’s just use keys since that’s such a universal cue
for dogs. Put down the Kong ®, wait ‘til your dog has their tongue stretched out of their head in the peanut butter, and then pick up your keys
and put them down again.


Then walk over and take away the Kong®. “What?!” we hope he/she says. “Wait a minute, I was still working on that.”

Good, now put it down again, let him/her get busy with it and jingle your keys again. Put them down and then take away the toy.
Repeat that a few more times, then take away the toy for good and go off and do something else. What happened is that your dog
heard the keys jingle while feeling happy, rather than feeling stressed.


A few hours later, repeat this exercise, except this time pick up the keys and put on your jacket. Then, (sigh), take off your jacket, put
down your keys and take away the stuffed toy. “Drat”, says Fido, they are comin back again!”


Repeat that four or five times in one session, and then take a well-deserved break. Every day, gradually add the steps of your actually leaving the house while your dog slurps on his/her desert. After a few days, if you’re sure that your dog is now relaxed when he/she
hears the keys, then pick up the keys BEFORE you put down the Kong®, then put on your jacket. This is the actual Counter-conditioning.

 (keys first, Kong® next) that will teach your dog to associate all your “leaving triggers” with feeling happy, or at least relaxed. The speed with which you progress depends on the severity of the problem. Most of our serious cases of Separation Anxiety can be
cured in about six to eight weeks, while milder ones can be improved in just a few weeks.


I’ve learned that in most cases the critical part of the entire process is to get the dog comfortable with you leaving the house. If these
dogs are fine while you walk out, then they’re fine the rest of the day.


There are dogs, however, that are comfortable for five to ten minutes alone, but then work up to becoming more and more anxious, so
learn everything that you can about your dog’s routine and then work on gradually expanding your dog’s level of comfort.


A “typical” treatment schedule (but of course, all dogs are different) skews heavily on the early stages of departure and absence, where one entire month can be taken up with getting your dog relaxed about your getting ready, opening the door, stepping outside and standing there for just a few seconds before returning and taking away the toy.



At this point I can imagine you thinking that your dog will be geriatric before you can actually leave him all day long. But take heart, once you reach the point where you can walk out the door, it’s usually relatively fast and easy to expand five seconds to 60, one minute to five minutes, five minutes to an hour, etc.


You’re better off spending more time on the early stages, and then the process of lengthening the time of departure it will go alot faster.

4. Find a way to leave your dog during your usual absences where she’s not anxious. “Uh, hello?…” you might be saying. If you could
do that, why would you be reading this email Ingo sent right? Before you toss this through the window, let me explain.


If you’re working every day to condition your dog to feel relaxed and comfortable during your “mini-departures”, all your hard work will go out the window if you then follow the same routine and leave for eight hours.

Counterconditioning works by gradually teaching her to associate each tiny step of your leaving with feeling good. It won’t work if you then go backwards each day and overwhelm her with more than she can handle.


You can’t quit smoking by not smoking all night and then doing it all day, so you need to find some way to
leave your dog where she’s comfortable when you’re not playing the conditioning game. That’s the bad news. The good news is that
after guffawing or gulping, my clients always come up with a solution. So can you, honest. Here’s a list of what has worked for others:


tips and tricks For Your Puppy

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