Dog Separation Axiety and Abandonment Issues
(Manchester, CT, USA)
My Jack Russell, Jake hates it when someone leaves the house. If you try to go out the door, he barks and charges at your feet. After the door is closed, he will jump and bounce against the door while barking incessantly. Is there anything I can do to curb this behavior. By the way, he is 6 years old.
Thank you.Editor Suggestion
Imagine being cared for and fed by someone, only to see them leave and not knowing if they will return. This sense of separation anxiety is particularly strong in Jack Russell's as they are very attached and protective of the family. It is a fear response that you will not return.
Training a dog to cope with separation anxiety is usually accomplished with desensitization training. Training starts by teaching your dog that you will return by providing familiar queues.
Training starts by creating leaving the house several times in a day for just 5 minutes. This way your Jack will know that you are going to come back.
About 15 minutes before you leave the house, provide a toy that is new that will only be brought out when you are going to leave. I'd suggest one of the Kong toys
as you can hide treats inside, providing a treat and a source of distraction. The response to the toy and food, an appetite response, will gradually replace the fear response associated with people leaving the home.
When you return home, take away the toy. Your Jack will learn that to get the toy he or she likes, you have to leave, thereby associating something positive with your absence. You can also leave music or the radio on (only turn on when leaving) to provide a sense of comfort and another signal that you will come home to turn it off.
After a few days, stay out of the home for progressively longer periods of time. In no time at all your Jack will come to understand that you will return.
Another approach that is often used with dogs that are strongly attached to their owner is to make your dog less dependent on your presence. For example, even when you are home, instruct your Jack to lie down in another room. If this can't be accomplished, have your Jack lie down next to you. Then move slightly away instructing that the dog should stay in place.
Gradually increase the distance until you command your jack to go to a special place you select in another room. If he doesn't go, use a lead to take your Jack there. The goal is to make it clear that you are not attached at the hip. Discourage being followed around the home. Do not let your Jack drape over you or sleep in the same bed (same room is OK). The goal is to build some distance, however small between the two of you until your dog feels confident to be alone.
Readers, any suggestions for dog separation anxiety?