DESTRUCTIVE DOGS OFTEN MISDIAGNOSED AS SEPARATION ANXIETY CASES
By Sara Bryanton, CPDT
Unleashed Potential, PEI
I get a lot of emails and phone calls to help people who say their dog has separation anxiety. Some have been prescribed anxiety meds. This is why we do 45-60 minute free consultations and assessments. I will spend more time with you then most experts asking many questions about your dog’s history, breeding, development, their habits, their responses to stimuli, your habits, your routines, environmental changes, food being fed, physical and mental stimulation, your work schedule, travel life etc.
After finding all of that out, quite often it is not a case of separation anxiety but a case of destructive behaviour due to boredom and lack of stimulation. That is why your anxiety meds aren’t working. 😉
If your dog lacks mental and physical stimulation they tend to seek out their own “tasks.” They need an outlet for their energy and if no outlet is provided they engage in destructive behaviour to vent out the energy.
In this instance, I will likely not recommend meds for your dog but here is what I will recommend:
🐶 MENTAL & PHYSICAL ENERGY BURN. Engage with your dog with fun and challenging interactions doing obedience training games everyday. Make their new daily “tasks” fun and engaging. Sit, down, heel, place, come, stand, stay in position and other fun tricks that they can problem solve and be active in are important. Challenge them to learn how to do it without relying on lures or bribes, instead create a thinking dog who can problem solve, find their advantage and think they are in control.
🐶 No more leaving them alone to exercise themselves mindlessly on your property. YOU exercise them. YOU engage them daily with fun activities such as fetch, tug, flirt pole use, walks, runs, bike rides, swimming and nose work. YOU supervising and engaging with your dog. They will love it and you at a deeper level. Why doesn’t a dog listen to its owner? Because often the owner is boring, not present, not engaged, not reliable and the most common word spoken is “no!” Be the cool kid in school that your dog wants to hang out with.
🐶 Teach your dog to have an off switch. Many owners focus on constantly stimulating their dogs with play, enrichment and exercise. This is great and please don’t stop! But the problem with that alone is, it can create adrenaline junkies who can not sit still and always need to be doing something. Teach down-stays on ‘place’ and reward calm behaviour. Make sure they are getting proper sleep. Adult dogs need 12-14 hours a day of sleep. Like kids, your dog might choose not to rest. Make them rest by using a kennel or teaching place command after their Energy Burn needs have been met. Destructive behaviours increase with lack of sleep.
🐶 Feed them nutritious healthy food. Not all food is created equal and just because your bag costs $100 doesn’t guarantee it’s good for them. Dog food companies are masters of marketing and masters of making you think their food is natural and healthy when it is not. It’s our job as pet parents to know exactly what we are buying and feeding our dogs. Poor food choices can hinder brain function and contribute to aggression and destructive behaviours. Links below for websites you should study.
🐶 And lastly, take action. Mike Hawkins from Planet of Success says-
“ You don’t get results by focusing on the results, you get results by focusing on the actions that produce results.”
Dog training is a lifestyle. Set intentions to work with your dog every day and teach them what you expect with fun, food and engagement. Those intentions will turn into habits and those habits will then become second nature. Your dog is only on this earth for a short while. Don’t waste the opportunity. ❤️
www.unleashedpotential.ca Find out more about dog training services.
Unleashed Potential K9 Academy® is a registered private training school under the Private Training Schools Act of the Province of Prince Edward Island.
Sign up for free dog training videos, see what food and supplies we carry in our webstore and book your free consult with a certified trainer.
www.truthaboutpetfood.com Non-profit pet food advocacy group.
www.planetpaws.com Nova Scotian, Rodney Habib, has become the worlds leading dog food nutritionist and currently has over 3.5 million followers. Find out the latest news on all things food, Science-based info on increasing your pet’s life span, DIY tips and ideas of things you can do at home to enrich your dog’s life and more.