Great Training Tips to Fix Separation Anxiety When a Dog Moves to a New Home

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: August 25, 2017

Huck is a one-year-old Australian Shepherd who lives in Omaha. His guardians set up a dog behavior training session to help Huck with his dog separation anxiety and to get him to stop barking.

When I sat down to chat with Huck’s guardian he told me that they just recently moved to a new location. Whenever dogs move to a new home they can take a few weeks to fully adjust and during that time may pick up new unwanted behaviors. Another big adjustment for Huck was his change in schedule. He went from having one or both of his guardians with him for the majority of the day to them having new work schedules. This led to him barking in the new apartment and chewing up the window blinds.

To help fix separation anxiety I wanted to use the counterconditioning method to reward Huck for being calm when his guardian was leaving the house. Dogs think in very cause and effect ways, so Huck may have started to believe that he needed to be anxious in this new house to bring his guardian back. So we broke down each component of his guardian leaving: picking up his keys, walking to the door, jiggling the door handle, etc. and rewarded Huck with treats for calm behavior. You can see how we accomplished this in the two videos below.

I want to remind the guardian to not ask Huck to STAY when he is leaving. Since Huck will eventually get out of a sit once the guardian leaves, he will be automatically releasing himself from the sit. This will make it very challenging for Huck to STAY when he is asked to in the future.

To keep up with Huck’s good behavior the guardian will want to practice the Leadership Exercise once a week for the next two weeks to help Huck relax and look to his guardian for leadership. Continue to use our Petting with a Purpose method to reward Huck for good behavior and use the Escalating Consequences to disagree with him. By the end of the session Huck had visibly relaxed and looking to his guardian for direction. We wrapped up the session with Huck’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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