Adding Rules, Exercise and Boundaries to Mello out Melo’s Separation Anxiety

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 29, 2013

Melo (Pit)

Meet Melo a six-year-old, Pitbull Lab mix.

Melo’s owners contacted me to help her get over a case of separation anxiety. In a few of her more intense incidents, Melo chewed holes in doors large enough to fit through, and Melo is no small dog.

When I arrived for the session, Melo was excited but not overly so. However she had almost no regard for my personal space. When we sat down to discuss the situation, Melo repetitively stuck her nose into my bag, crotch and sniffed me profusely.

To communicate that I wanted Melo to give me some personal space, I started to stand up abruptly anytime she got too close. I had to repeat this action five times before Melo finally understood what I was asking and lay down on the floor a few feet away from me. I advised Melo’s owners to do the same whenever she got too close to their personal space.

I noticed Melo consistently ducking her nose under her owners arms or hands in an attempt to get them to pet her. Since this is essentially the dog giving the human an order, I advised them to refrain from responding whenever she initiated this type of contact. Instead I suggested that when she requested a pet in this fashion, that they counter by giving her a command to sit and only rub her after she had complied. By placing conditions on Melo’s request to be petted, we can help her understand that she can’t demand attention this way.

Next I demonstrated an exercise that will help Melo learn to self restrain while also looking to her humans for permission when she doesn’t know what to do. ¬†Melo caught on very quickly and I only had to practice the exercise three times before she clearly understood what I was asking.

I walked her owners through the exercise as well so they can repeat it after our session. By repeating this exercise daily and making it slightly more difficult each time, we can build up Melo’s self-restraint muscles. We can also help her see her humans as pack leaders. By removing her perception that she is the pack leader, Melo will be relieved of the burden of responsibility that is likely partially to blame for her separation anxiety.

Next we discussed a few minor changes to their day-to-day life as well as some simple exercises that her owners can practice to help Melo learn that when they leave, it isn’t the end of the world. Particularly burring as much energy as possible before they leave her alone. Burning excess energy goes a long way to treating separation anxiety. It will take some practice and repetition, but judging from the progress made in the session, I would think eliminating or at least greatly reducing her separation anxiety should be achievable within a few weeks.

By the end of the session Melo was living up to her name, lying on the floor peacefully. By adding rules and structure to her daily life while building up a tolerance for being alone, Melo will quickly learn to stay calm and relaxed as a way to get over her separation anxiety.

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