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Ask the Trainer with Cherie Beattie

The Pet Pro, The-PetPro.comCherie Beattie

Q: Now that the kids are back in school and we’re not home as often, our Cocker Spaniel, Daisy, seems to be suffering from separation anxiety. She’s normally calm and relatively quiet, but she’s been barking when we leave the house in the morning and, as our neighbors report, howling while we’re away. Is there anything we can do to ease this behavior?

A: It can be tough for some dogs to adjust to changes in their environment. When kids go back to school, the family dog is suddenly left alone. Daisy probably got lots of attention, exercise, and mental stimulation with the kids home. So, now you have to find new ways for her to get these things. What will help is to get her more exercise. Scheduling in a 15- to 30-minute walk in the morning before work and school will help get out some of the excess energy. A tired dog is a good dog. When you leave, give her something to do to keep her busy such as a mental stimulation toy. Any type of toy that you can put food in will keep her busy. This will also make a more positive association with you leaving. Also, dogs are good at learning your routine when you’re leaving such as picking up keys, a purse, and putting on shoes. Make these things insignificant by picking up your keys and then sitting back down. Make some quick departures by walking out the door and coming right back in. If you try these things and don’t notice any improvement, then you may need to seek the help of a professional trainer with experience in the treatment of separation anxiety.

ABOUT the Trainer
Cherie Beattie is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with more than six years of professional experience using positive reinforcement training methods. After earning her Masters degree in Biology with a concentration in animal behavior, she wanted to use her knowledge to help people understand their pets. She has owned her own dog training and pet services business, The Pet Pro, for almost four years and can’t imagine doing anything else. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing an owner’s face change to happiness when they see what they never knew their dog could do or relieving the stress of a problem behavior.

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