Teaching a Dog to Trust His Guardian’s Leadership to Stop His Chewing and Separation Anxiety

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 27, 2017

Cooper is a seven-year-old Labradoodle who lives in Los Angeles with Lucky, an eight-year-old Poodle mix. Their guardian set up this dog behavior training session with us to stop Lucky from being possessive of their guardian and Cooper from destroying dog beds, getting over excited, possible separation anxiety and a serious licking habit.

Both dogs were pretty excited to meet me, but Cooper was by far the more excited and energetic dog.

Cooper and Lucky’s guardian recently ended a long term relationship so the dog’s were adjusting to a new living environment and different dynamic going down to a single guardian.

While discussing the situation with their guardian, I learned that there wasn’t a ton of structure in place. Generally speaking, the more dogs you have, the more important rules, boundaries and lists become. If we do not provide dogs with this structure, its easy for them to get the impression that they are peers with us. When you have two dogs who are vying for the top spot, dog behavior problems are pretty common.

This is partially because if a dog sees you as a peer, then listening to you becomes optional. Additionally, some clingy dogs (those who want a lot of attention and typically follow their humans around) have a higher likelihood of developing some issues including Separation Anxiety. Cooper isn’t a clingy dog, but he does fall into this category.

Dogs with Separation Anxiety can go into a panic attack when their human leaves them. They often try to self soothe by chewing things and in extreme cases, will chew on doors and sometimes through walls to escape the confines of the house so they can go and find their guardian.

After suggesting ways to add in structure in discipline, I went over some dog training tips and ways to help modify dog behavior. These included non verbal ways to communicate with the dogs that they respected and responded to right away.

To help the guardian practice the escalating consequences (a fantastic way to disagree with unwanted actions and behaviors) I ran through a Leadership Exercise I developed a few years ago. You can watch me do this and pick up a great dog behavior secret in the video below.

I recommended the dog’s guardian practice this exercise at least once a day with each dog, however the more he practices, the faster the dogs will progress.

Because Cooper has destroyed some things (chewing dog beds, shredding paper, getting into cabinets, etc) I recommended his guardian return to using a kennel when he can’t be there to supervise the dog. Dogs get into habits and chewing can fall into this category.

Its been a while since Cooper was kenneled, so some remedial kennel training may be required. If the guardian notices Cooper is reluctant to go into the crate or seems anxious, he can use this link to watch a video I did with another client who’s dog needed help with some kennel training.

A dog behavior tip I’ll share is that dogs start to develop stress if left in a kennel for longer than five hours (This is assuming the dog is kennel trained and has no fear of being inside a crate). Because Cooper’s guardian is an actor (I’m pretty sure you have seen him on TV, but we don’t name names here at Dog Gone Problems, lol), this five hour limit shouldn’t be a concern.

The more the guardian enforces the rules and structure we introduced in the session, the the Cooper will identify as being in the follower position. Once the dog sees himself as a follower, a good deal of the stress and anxiety he feels now will diminish. This will help him relax and not go into a panic attack or full blown case of Separation Anxiety in the future.

We finished up the session by shooting a short roadmap to success video covering the highlights and dog behavior tips and secrets I shared during this session.

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