Kennel Training a Keeshond to Help Him with His Separation Anxiety

Odin

Odin is a one-year-old Keeshond who live in Omaha. His guardians reached out to set up a dog behavior training session for help with his separation anxiety, chewing, and jumping.

Odin took me a bit by surprise during the greeting. I expected him to be quite a bit more excited and to try to jump up on me. But as you can see in the below video, Odin was pretty calm, in control and polite throughout the entire greeting process.

I sat down with Odin’s guardians to discuss his behavior, get more information on his daily routine, observe him and how his guardians interacted with him.

During this discussion I learned that Odin did not really have many rules in his life. This lack of structure can easily confuse a dog into thinking that it has the same authority as the humans it lives with. But when a dog thinks it has the same authority as you, they usually operate under the presumption that listing to you is optional.

But in Odin’s case it went further than that. He liked to nudge or paw at the humans to communicate that they were to give him attention. Because the humans often complied, this likely resulted in the dog thinking that it was the leader of the house.

When a dog considers itself to be in charge of humans, but the humans don’t act like followers, it can stress out the dog. This is because the dog feels that it is its responsibility to take care of and look after the humans. And when the humans leave the house without the dog, it feels powerless to protect them. Many dogs that have separation anxiety go into a panic state when this is the case and try to escape the kennel or chew their way out of the house to go look for their guardians.

One of the best ways to deal with separation anxiety is build up the dog’s confidence and self control while simultaneously removing anything that is causing the dog to feel stressed.

One of the best ways to start accomplishing this is to incorporate some rules and structure into the dog’s daily routine.

I also wanted to help the guardians by showing them how to add some structure to how they petted and rewarded him. This kind of positive dog training goes a long way and helps a dog learn what you want because these are the things that get the dog your attention.

A few years ago I developed a technique I like to call Petting with a purpose that helps add a bit of structure to the affection we give our dogs.

It’s going to be challenging for Odin’s guardians to not instinctively pet him when he demands it or simply because he is nearby. But if they add this tiny bit of structure to the petting that they provide, they will help the dog shift into more of a follower’s mindset. Once the dog identifies as a follower, a lot of Odin’s stress and anxiety will be eliminated. This will greatly help Odin with his separation anxiety.

Odin’s guardians mentioned that they had puppy pads all over the living room because he still had some accidents. I spent a couple of minutes discussing the situation with to find out how they trained him. It sounded like they missed a couple of crucial steps that caused Odin to be a little bit confused.

To help them with this problem, I went over some basic potty training tips.

By consistently rewarding the dog for a successful elimination, taking him out at the times that he is more apt to need to go and introducing a command word that he understands, his guardian should be able to stop his accidents in the home.

While eliminating stress will go a long ways towards helping Odin with his separation anxiety, the kennel itself can be a cause for concern. Many dogs develop a fear of the kennel as his guardians only put them inside when they are about to leave.

Fortunately in Oden’s case he had no concerns about going into the kennel when his guardians were there. The problem Odin had was when his guardians placed him in their versus when he entered or exited the kennel himself.

To help Odin learn that the kennel is a good place, even when his guardians are not present, I went over an exercise I have successfully used with many other dogs that have the same problem.

It’s going to take some time and effort to help Odin learn that just because he is placed in the kennel it doesn’t mean his guardians are leaving or there is any reason to panic. This type of kennel training is more effective when a dog is just a pup, but old dogs can benefit as well. It just takes more time and repetitions.

By combining additional rules and structure with this training exercise, Odin should learn to not only tolerate the kennel but actually look at it as a positive place to go – even when he is left alone.

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