Separation Anxiety - My Top 3 Information Resources for Pet Guardians
Author: Christine Heal, Faunadael Pet Rescue
Sometimes the hardest thing is knowing where to start.
Having lived with dogs with separation anxiety, and having supported others with dogs with various levels of isolation distress, I've read, watched, and heard far too much misinformation, and know the frustration of not knowing what to believe, what to buy, or where to look.
So briefly, here are three valuable, affordable, resources for pet guardians.
#1 & 2 - Books:
Be Right Back!: How To Overcome Your Dog's Separation Anxiety And Regain Your Freedom by Julie Naismith. Published November 2019.
Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Next Generation Treatment Protocols and Practices by Malena DeMartini-Price. Published September 2020.
Both contain current*, evidence-based guidelines and plans. Unfortunately they are not yet available in audiobook format.
#3 - Facebook support group:
Dog Separation Anxiety Training Support with Julie Naismith
(And if you have a puppy:
Puppy Separation Anxiety with Julie Naismith
Those are the only (free) Facebook groups I suggest joining. They are well-moderated, based on "force-free, fear-free, humane training methods," and it appears everyone who posts receives some support and guidance. Most useful if you read Julie Naismith's book first, but not mandatory. In the Guides section of the groups are videos, blog posts and other useful information.
In some of the other groups, I've seen out-dated, punishment-based, cruel, and sometimes dangerous recommendations.
Trainers, veterinarians, and veterinary behaviourists:
Remember that separation anxiety is a phobia, and therefore a behavioural emergency where you never want your dog to feel that extreme distress, just like you wouldn't allow your dog to suffer with a broken leg. Trained professionals can help you and your dog get through this! Some of PACTA BC's professional members have specific training and experience dealing with separation anxiety. Check for a trainer near you or read the bios of our professional members
to find one who will work with you remotely.
And please, never feel that you have failed your dog if you medicate him. You would administer insulin to a diabetic dog, so helping a dog cope with medication—either daily or situational—can be one of the kindest things you can do...and often one of the first things you should do. Connecting with your veterinarian or getting a referral to a veterinary behaviourist may be just one step in the desensitisation process.
Hang in there!
Separation anxiety and isolation distress are not rare: lots of others going through similar things. Reach out and get some support to help you through it!
Although it may not seem like it now, separation anxiety can
be cured...but it will take time, dedication, and patience.
There is light at the end of the tunnel!
* Because our knowledge is always expanding as more research is done, the authors may have revised parts of the protocols or methods they outlined in their books. This is true for any book or publication. Visit the authors' websites or social media accounts for more recent information.