How to Stop Separation Anxiety for a Little Rescue Dog

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: September 28, 2017

Ollie - How to Stop Separation Anxiety for a Little Rescue Dog

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with Ollie, a four-year-old Chihuahua mix who needed training to stop separation anxiety and stop going potty in the house.

When I first arrived, Ollie was an excited dog when greeting me at the door. When I sat down to chat with his guardian about Ollie’s main dog behavior issue she told me that Ollie goes to the bathroom in the house when he is left alone at home. Ollie was recently rescued a few months ago and is still in the process of fully adjusting to his new home.

To help Ollie reduce separation anxiety I wanted to break down the process of his guardian leaving into tiny, little stops. Each part of his guardian leaving can be a trigger for Ollie to get anxious about his guardian leaving. So by breaking this down into little steps, e.g. going to pick up her purse and giving him a treat for being calm, we can help Ollie start making a positive association between his guardian leaving and staying a calm dog.

By using this positive dog training method to reward Ollie with treats at each step of his guardian leaving, we are reinforcing that this is a positive experience. Since dogs think in cause and effect ways, Ollie probably thought that being anxious and going potty in the house were things he had to do in order for his guardian to return. We turned this around using counterconditioning, to help him realize that he can remain calm, not potty in the house and still have his guardian return home to him.

By the end of the session Ollie was relaxed when his guardian left the apartment for brief time periods. He made great advancements in only a couple of hours! To keep up this good behavior make sure to take this slowly to build up his confidence that you will return while he remains in a calm state of mind. I wrapped up this session with Ollie’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse