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  • Writer's pictureStacey Bell

Navigating the Challenges of Separation Anxiety Training in Dogs: Staying the Course

Dealing with separation anxiety can be a challenging journey for both pet parents and their dogs. The process of training and helping a dog overcome their anxiety requires patience, consistency, and dedication. However, there are times when the road ahead feels difficult and progress seems slow. Let’s explore some strategies and tips to help you stick with separation anxiety training, even when it feels hard.

Set Realistic Expectations:

It's important to remember that overcoming separation anxiety is not an overnight process. Progress will be gradual, and variability, setbacks, and regressions are common. Setting realistic expectations for both yourself and your dog will help you stay motivated and patient throughout the journey.

Break it Down:

Often the big picture can feel overwhelming. Break down the training process into smaller, manageable steps. Celebrate even the tiniest victories. Each small achievement is a step closer to success!

Consistency is Key:

Consistency in training is crucial. Stick to the training plan and routines you've established, even when it feels challenging. Dogs thrive on predictability, and your consistent efforts will contribute to their progress.

Embrace Patience:

Patience is a virtue when dealing with separation anxiety, well… with a lot of other things too. Understand that there may be setbacks and days when progress seems slow. Instead of focusing on the end goal, appreciate the journey and the small improvements along the way.

Seek Support:

Don't hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or online communities. Connecting with others who have gone through or are currently experiencing similar challenges can provide you with encouragement, advice, and a sense of camaraderie. Lean into your community for help with managing absences.

Adapt and Adjust:

Training protocols should be adjusted to your dog's needs.   If you notice that a particular approach isn't yielding results, be open to adapting and adjusting your training plan. Flexibility is key to finding what works best for your dog.

Document Progress:

Keep a journal or record of your dog's progress. Documenting even the smallest improvements can help you visualize how far you've come and remind you that your efforts are making a difference. It can also help you identify trends.

Celebrate Milestones:

Set milestones for your training journey and celebrate them when you achieve them. Whether it's the first time you are able to get the mail or the first time you run a real life errand dog, take time to acknowledge and celebrate these moments.

Practice Self-Care:

Taking care of your own well-being is essential. I cannot emphasize this enough!  Training a dog with separation anxiety can be emotionally taxing, so make sure to allocate time for self-care activities that recharge you. I've mentioned how consistency in training is important, and it is. However, remember to take care of yourself as well. If you need a short break to help you approach training with a fresh perspective, absolutely do that!

Have Fun Together:

Since behavior problems can stress your relationship with your dog, it is important to take time doing the things you love together. That will allow you to reconnect and remember that your relationship with your dog is about more than just departure training.

Reach Out to a Certified SA Pro:

If you have been training on your own and not seeing progress and/or are feeling overwhelmed, reaching out to a specialist in the field can be really helpful.  Not only will they provide you with a clear path forward, but they will also alleviate some of the stress you may feel from making difficult decisions. 

Sticking with separation anxiety training for your dog may feel challenging at times, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Remember that you're making a positive impact on your dog's well-being and happiness as well as your own. By setting realistic expectations, maintaining consistency, seeking support, and practicing patience, you can navigate the tough moments and help your furry friend overcome their anxiety. Stay committed to the process, and over time, you'll witness the progress and growth that come with your dedicated efforts.


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