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How to untrain a dog/Seperation anxiety ??

960 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Lolas_Dad
We got our new dog, and he is the best behaved dog. Ever. He has to learn commands and tricks, but he has very very good manners and etiquette. He won't step through a doorway without permission, has a perfect recall, and knows not to beg. A problem, though, that I have with his training, is that he needs permission to eat and drink. I have to put the food in his face and say "Eat, good boy," and after after every bite or drink he has to have reassurance to continue. He really won't eat more than three bites or so without refusing to eat. I think he is pretty underweight how it is, so I need tips on untraining him from this.
Also, he had severe seperation anxiety. Just from me, and I'm not being vain. Even if he is with someone else, he will whine and try to follow me where ever I go. This is a problem because we have to keep him seperate from our other dog (we're working on this), and now I have to crate him just so I can go downstairs. We had the stairs blocked with a gate, but he has learned how to open that. He is not even scared of his crate, he just doesn't want to be away from me.
The seperation anxiety is going to cause some real problems, since I am on summer vacation and am able to be home with him all day now, but when I start school in the fall, he will have to be crated for three hours at a time (my dad will let him out at noon)
One more problem. It's pretty simple, I just need to ask if I'm going at it the right way. He has a fear of men, and will run away from them if they approach him. I am asking men to feed him treats when they meet him. I hope this is right.
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If your dog has SA it will take some time to solve it, but you can totally do it.

First of all, you have to make coming and going as low key as possible. When you are leaving and arriving don't even look at your dog, and completely ignore any of his behavior. Wait for at least five minutes, or until he is totally settled down and acting normal before you look at him and touch him. Before that you should pretend he isn't even there. Same goes for leaving: don't even say goodbye or anything.

The other thing you should do, which is much easier for you because you're on summer vacation, is come and go extremely often. Take a week to practice it. Once or twice an hour, take five or ten minutes to step out of the house for a few minutes, then come back. Remember to keep it extremely low-key. Going in and out over and over again takes patience but it really works. My last dog had serious SA when I adopted him, and these techniques are what cured it.

One more tip is to "practice" doing all the things you usually do before you leave the house. If you always pick up your keys and purse, start doing this when you aren't leaving. Just pick up your purse, carry it to the kitchen, and set it down. Later, pick it back up and carry it to the door, and then set it down. This will prevent your dog from associating those actions with you leaving, and thus prevent a build-up of anxiety whenever you pick up your keys.

The only other thing I can think of right now is to work on crate training. I don't know if you have a crate or use it, but it can be an important tool. The shelter I volunteer at recently had a dog come in who jumped through a glass window not once but twice. The owner was totally clueless about training, and opted for leaving him at the shelter. A lot of people's dogs also chew excessively when they have SA and are left alone. A crate is the safest thing for the dog and your stuff. Personally, I don't like to crate a dog though unless I'm going to be gone for a while. If you decide to use a crate and the dog isn't already crate trained, make sure you take a lot of time to work on making the crate a safe, fun place to be. Start by feeding him in it, and leave the door off.

Add-on: Lola's Dad's suggestion of giving him a stuffed kong is a very good suggestion. Some people on here fill them up with wet food and then freeze them for extra long-lasting fun. A busy dog is a happy dog.
But I really think you shouldn't follow his advice about praising your dog when you rejoin him. Also, when he whines, I don't think it's smart to tell him to be quiet from the other room because just hearing your voice could actually be reinforcing in this situation.
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