Dog separation anxiety solutions that don’t work

Maybe you were searching online for solutions to your dog’s separation anxiety and just read an advertisement for the latest separation anxiety solution. I’ve compiled a list of things that, despite what the products advertisement says, do not work for your dogs separation anxiety.

Separation Anxiety Crate

These crates go by a number of different names. It may be called an escape-proof dog crate or a high anxiety steel dog crate. The advertisement will say the crate is indestructible. It may even say it is a heavy duty dog crate for separation anxiety. And if you chat with the company (which I have done) and ask about the crate they will tell you “Of course we can not guarantee it will solve anything as we are not trainers nor can we control the behavior of your dog.”

All the crate is doing is masking the issue. Yes, maybe your dog won’t be able to escape or chew your wall but the underlying problem of separation anxiety isn’t going to be fixed. Instead, your dogs anxiety is going to get worse.separation anxiety dog

In addition, you will find that most dogs with separation anxiety also have dog confinement anxiety. This is why it is not recommended to crate train a dog with separation anxiety.

Bark Collar

Another solution people will recommend online for dog separation anxiety barking is an anti-bark dog collar. You’ll even find some trainers online recommending just putting a bark collar or e-collar on your dog.

Most bark collars work typically by shocking your dog when she barks. Some will spray something unpleasant, like citronella spray, into your dog’s face when she barks. Since the shock or spray is unpleasant, this is supposed to make your dog stop barking. Your dog is already fearful and anxious due to the separation anxiety. By using an aversive collar on your dog, this will make her even more anxious and fearful.

Even if your dog stops barking this is not solving the problem. It is just masking it and one day you’ll realize your dog’s anxiety is much worse than it was before the bark collar was used. The barking and destruction is an involuntary reaction your dog is experiencing due to a state of panic. Using a bark collar on a dog in this situation is akin to shocking a child having a panic attack.

The shock collar is not stopping your dog from panicking. Instead, if your dog can’t bark their panic will likely manifest in another way. They will start displaying other signs of separation anxiety, such as destroying doors, breaking windows trying to escape or destroying furniture.

separation anxiety dog looking out windowLeaving Out Food

Some trainers who aren’t certified in dog separation anxiety may suggest leaving out food for your dog. Or giving your dog a frozen Kong while you’re out. You will soon find that this doesn’t work either. Most dogs who are suffering from separation anxiety are in a state of panic. Most dogs when they are afraid or over threshold will not eat food.

Maybe your dog does work on a Kong when you’re gone. Some dogs will be distracted by this, but once the Kong is finished, they will go into a state of panic. This is because they now realize they are alone. I wrote another blog post which goes further into why food doesn’t work for separation anxiety training.

Talking to your Dog through Camera Microphone

This may sound like a good idea. Maybe if I try speaking to my dog through the camera‘s microphone, this will get him to settle down. In reality, the opposite is usually true.

When somebody speaks to their dog through a camera, especially a dog that has separation anxiety and is in a state of panic, it makes your dog even more anxious since they can now hear your voice, but can’t see you. Resist the urge to do this no matter how badly you want to comfort your dog, it’ll only make the situation worse.

Natural Remedies

Some other solutions people typically discuss with separation anxiety include natural remedies or CBD Oils.  While typically safe for dogs to use, we’ve found that most separation anxiety dog parents have tried this with little to no effect on their dogs anxiety.

So What Does Work Then

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, the best cure is to start gradual desensitization training with her below threshold. Find out more about our dog separation anxiety programs here.

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