Conclusion regarding Separation Anxiety
When the problem has been targeted, improvement can be detected within two or three weeks. Complete treatment takes 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the master's tenacity and know-how. If the environment or the schedule changes, the problem can re-occur. At that moment, resume the procedure and the problems will go away faster.
Fear: If the dog is afraid of something, it means that he had a bad experience, or a lack of socialization. It is very important that the stimulus that causes the fear be identified; for example, noise, the presence of adults, children or other stimuli. There are, in fact, an endless number of possible types of fear, but the most widely used treatment to improve upon negative reactions induced by fear is counter conditioning combined with desensitization.
A dog known as fearful displays particular body language, such as ears flattened or backwards, tail low, between the legs, with head and body swung low. Vocalisation can be heard, such as barking, whining, and even growling sounds. Many clinical signs can be observed, such as avoidance, aggressiveness, trembling, sporadic destruction, excessive salivation, body-related inhibitions, emotional urination, and loss of hair.
Phobias: A phobia is disproportionate fear. Phobic fear completely handicaps the dog emotionally. Dogs suffer and hurt themselves in an attempt to escape from "somewhere". For example, the dog is in a cage, and he hears a noise. This noise triggers a panic; the dog will scratch and claw at the bars of the cage, hurting himself in the process. Phobias are physiological reactions that are difficult to completely eliminate. However, they can be redirected toward acceptable behavior patterns.
In order to improve the fear or phobia, treatment is not relative to the master's physical force. If the master forces the dog, he will be more fearful the next time. For example, a master can force the dog to encounter lots of people in different places, even if the dog trembles or tries to run away. This is not desensitization. Desensitization is a gradual process that changes the negative perception in a stimulus into a positive one. It is acquired by varying the stimulation, the intensity, the distance, and the milieu. The spray should not be used as correction. The idea is to show the dog that there is nothing to fear. If the stimulus has been well identified, and the situation can be harnessed, you can gradually present the stimulus in a controlled environment. In many cases, an antidepressant can be combined with the desensitization approach for better results. (by rendering the dog receptive to treatment) Consult your ethologist or behaviorist veterinarian.
The first step is to establish a growing order of stimuli which provoke an emotional reaction of acute fear.
- Evaluate all characteristics of the stimulus or the situation. For example: distance, noise, speed, characteristics related to people, such as age, sex, or size. Observe the behavior of the animal, as the person tries to touch him, or when he goes toward someone. Also, be alert to environmental factors such as inside, outside, familiar, or non-familiar.
- Establish a list of priorities of characteristics, starting with the most important, to the least important.
- Determine what the animal can tolerate. In other words, a situation that does not provoke a negative response is the starting point.
- Use your list of priorities, and simulate situations where they can be found. This means exposing your dog to his fear, but a controlled version of it This way, you can target the right time to reward the dog. Rewards can take on many forms ( , , touching, laughter, or a game session). The emergence of fear should be combined with the onset of a pleasant element. Repeat this situation many times. We suggest 10 repetitions within a session. Do not change the intensity or the area before the dog has succeeded.
- Gradually increase the intensity of each stimulus. Begin as soon as the dog displays fear. segment the exercise into situations made up of varying degrees of intensity, slowly getting closer and closer to that which resembles the authentic situation. Progression must occur without the dog showing any fear whatsoever; otherwise, take one step back in stimuli intensity, and practice a little longer at a lower level of intensity.