Helping a Beagle Puppy Get Over Its Separation Anxiety with a LTCA

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 4, 2021

For this Mar Vista dog training session we helped a beautiful 1 year-old Beagle named Luna with her Separation Anxiety problem.

Due to coronavirus, Luna did not get the opportunity to go to puppy socialization classes and as a result, she has a few confidence issues and does not like being left home alone.

Dogs need to practice everything you want them to do, this includes being alone. If you set up a long term confinement area for your puppy and have it sleep there for the first few months it’s in your home, they are able to adapt to this lack of the presence of people or dogs and are usually comfortable being alone for the rest of their life.

Because Luna has a strong aversion to the kennel due to her separation anxiety, her guardian had started to take her to day care and stopped using the kennel. This is a very wise strategy to adopt if your dog has separation anxiety because putting them in a kennel is only going to exasperate the problem.

I shared some force free kennel training tips and within a couple minutes had Luna going in the kennel completely, but she was clearly still uncomfortable and exited right away. I recommended that the guardian drill a hole through the back of a bully stick and use a zip tie to attach loosely it to the bottom back end of her kennel and leave the door open. This provides a nice incentive for the dog to go into the kennel and have something good waiting. Since she cant take it out, she will practice being in the kennel in a positive and pleasant way.

I also recommended that any time Luna was out of the room, the guardian leave a few treats in the kennel; one about 6 inches from the door, one halfway and one in the back portion of the kennel. This way, the dog will start to check the kennel on a regular basis looking for loot.

The guardian had set up a long-term confinement area in a laundry room in the house prior to the session. This is my preferred set up for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. Instead of the constriction of a kennel, the long-term confinement area allows the dog to move around, play and just provides more freedom than a kennel.

But if you don’t first condition a dog with separation anxiety to want to go into a long term confinement area, they will react the same way they do in a kennel. I wanted to share some tips to stop separation anxiety in dogs as this was the primary issues the guardian wanted to address.

I handed the guardian my camera so that I could record a free positive dog training video full of tips to help dogs with separation anxiety; how to condition a dog to like going into a long term confinement area. If you have a dog that has a bad case of separation anxiety, you should check out the video below

It was great to see Luna exploring the area and lingering as we continued to practice this treatment for dogs who have separation anxiety. This secret to stopping separation anxiety isnt hard, but needs to be practiced often. I recommended that the guardian practice this separation anxiety exercise three or more times a day in short 1 to 2 minute practice sessions. Keeping things short, positive and successful is crucial when conditioning a dog to like an enclosed area. Stopping separation anxiety isnt hard, you dont have to be a professional Beagle dog trainer to use this technique to help a dog with separation anxiety.

I also let the guardians a treat and train, this is a machine that allows you to deliver treats at a distance via remote control. Because Luna has some anxiety, I would like the guardians to introduce her to the treat and train in this fashion.

  • The guardian should have some high-value training treats and have Luna near her with the Treat & Train sitting on the floor a few feet away.
  • The first step is to press the button to the Treat & Train remote control, then immediately give Luna a high-value treat. Since the machine makes a sound before delivering the treats, this will help Luna to associate the sound with something positive instead of being fearful of it.
  • After practicing this with a dozen or so treats once or twice in short 1 to 2 minute training sessions, the guardian should sit next to the Treat & Train machine. This time after pressing the button, she should drop the high-value treats into the tray along with the pieces of kibble that the machine popped out. It shouldn’t take long before Luna starts to go over to the treat and train anytime she hears the sound.

The Treat & Train machine has a beeping sound that could be turned on or off or to a lower volume. If the beeping seems to startle Luna or put her off her game, the guardian should turn the volume of this off and use the sound the machine makes when distributing treats only.

Once Luna is comfortable with the Treat & Train sounds and able to take food out of the tray, the guardian can start moving the treat and train machine away from her desk in her office and towards the laundry room. This should be done very progressively. At first the machine should be sitting in the middle of the office while the guardian sits at her chair.
If Luna doesn’t go over to the machine as soon as she hears the sound, the guardian may have to motion her in that direction or toss a treat on the floor near the machine after the sound. However this should be something she only has to do for a short period of time as the idea is to get Luna to go to the machine when she hears the sound.

Once Luna is comfortable going to the treat and train in the middle of the room, the guardian to move it about 6 to 12 inches towards the laundry room and practice again with about 8 to 12 treats or movements of the dog towards the machine.

It will take a half dozen or so practice rounds before the guardian is able to position the Treat & Train machine inside the long-term confinement area. Once this is the case, the guardian can press the button to distribute some kibble and have Luna run into the long-term confinement area.

Having a dog practice entering a room on its own volition is important, especially when you’re dealing with a fearful dog. I would recommend the guardians leave the door to the long-term confinement area open and also leave treats inside it as well as new toys or chewies anytime the dog is away. This will help create a positive association with the room. I’d also like to see the guardian feeding Luna in this room, giving her lick mats there, securing a bully stick to a dumbell or other anchoring base as well as practicing the techniques that I outlined in the above video.

The Treat & Train machine also has a programmed option which will allow you to teach the dog to wait in a down stay while the machine distributes treats at progressively longer intervals. If the guardians like the Treat & Train that I loaned them, and buy one for themselves, they should watch the DVD and utilize this training option to condition the dog to stay inside of the long-term confinement area.

While the training is going on, it’s important that the guardians do not shut the gate closed with the dog inside until she has had a sufficient amount of practice and is completely relaxed and comfortable inside the long-term confinement area. When they start closing the door, as outlined in the video above, they need to do it very progressively. At first they’re going need to close the door leave it latched for one second then immediately open it and say the marker word before providing Luna with a treat.

As they practice, they will be able to start closing the gate for longer and longer periods of time as well as eventually start moving away from the door. The idea is to do this so slowly and slow so progressively that Luna doesn’t mind. If she protest or wines or barks, that is an indication that the guardians are moving too fast and ended up back up to a step that they were previously successful at.

Luna‘s progress will be determined by how often the guardians practice and the quality of the practice they engage in. Helping a dog get over separation anxiety takes time and patience but it is a very treatable condition.

We shared a number of dog behavior tips in this in-home dog training session. Although it doesn’t seem like it, asking the dog to sit for pets, having to wait for permission to exit doors or sit quietly while a leash is attached can help dogs practice self-restraint and self-control which will have an impact on the separation anxiety behavior problem.

I’d like the guardians to practice the techniques outlined in the videos included in this write up and call or text me with any questions or problems that come up. It’s very common to need to make adjustments in the first week or two.

If after a month or so, they are struggling with Lunas separation anxiety, we may need to set up a follow up session to dig a little deeper. Based on how dedicated the guardians are, I’m very optimistic that they’re going to be able to put an end to the dogs separation anxiety problem with the information provided in this in-home Mar Vista dog training session.

To help the guardians remember everything that we covered, we recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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