Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety when left alone?  

You're suffering too.

We can help.
Leave your dog home alone without worry.  
Enjoy the freedom of being able to do things when you want.  

 

If you can't leave your home without;

  • Your dog panting, pacing or clinging to you as you get ready to leave
  • Complaints from neighbours about barking and howling
  • Coming home to pools of drool, destroyed furnishings, chewed up walls, doors
  • Housetraining accidents
  • Your stressed and panicked dog greeting you at the door
  • Feeling guilty for having to leave your dog
  • Feeling angry or resentful because you can't do things with friends because you can't leave your dog
  • Planning for pet sitters or day care for your dog

If this sounds familiar, your dog may be suffering from separation related behaviour issues.

 

 

Separation anxiety is a serious panic disorder that impacts the entire household—but relief is possible

Separation Anxiety dog destruction | Hanging With Hounds

Long believed to be untreatable, the last decade has seen huge strides in treating separation anxiety. Most dogs suffering from separation anxiety can learn to stay home alone without stress. The behaviour modification program I use is rooted in behavioural science.  It has transformed the lives of my clients and their dogs, time and time again. The same is possible for you and your dog.

That means relief for you, too—no more guilt, worry, or frustration:

√  Go to work, run errands with the kids or grandkids, or play golf without guilt

√  Get groceries, collect the mail or take out the trash without worrying

√  Return to a calm, happy dog who’s napped peacefully while you were away

√  Come home to a home that’s intact—no accidents, chewed rugs, or ruined doors

√  Stop worrying about angry neighbours upset about the endless barking or howling

Because you’re busy and need results
Living with a separation anxiety dog makes running a busy life that much harder. You need the most effective path to relief for you and your dog.
 
Because you want the best for your dog
It’s not just a matter of results, of course—you also want the peace of mind that comes with attaining those results through positive, humane dog training methods.
 
Because you want to know you’re in good hands, too
Our trainer takes a professional approach to dog training and a professional approach to client care—that means showing up on time, listening carefully, and supporting you through the separation anxiety training process.
 

 
 
What you need to know about Separation Anxiety Behaviour Modification.
Separation anxiety training requires an initial 4-week commitment. Separation Anxiety is an emotional response to being left alone.  We don't know why some dogs suffer from it and other don't.  The closest thing to compare it with is a panic attack.  While the threat is not real, the body's response to the perceived threat is real.  The threat in this case is being left alone.  Our goal with separation anxiety behaviour modification is to change your dog's emotional response to being left alone from being fearful and anxious to relaxed.  This won't happen quickly.  Separation related behaviour training is unlike another other type of dog training.  We are dealing with fear and what we are doing is trying to change the emotional response to that fear.  Whether your dog’s behaviour is due to FOMO, panic, or frustration, there is a solution but it takes time.  I am doing you a disservice if I tell you that you are going to see great progress in a few weeks.  The process can feel 'glacial' slow.  If we see rapid progress in a few weeks, and it does happen, than likely we are not dealing with true separation anxiety or fear. Sorry!  Historically, based on average results, many clients can achieve 2-3 hours within a 6-month period.  But some dogs take longer.  
 
Separation anxiety training is done virtual and honestly, this trully is the best and most effective method.  As a result, I can help clients from anywhere in the world.  If you have the internet, wifi and a camera, we can work together.  
 
Separation anxiety training is not the most exciting or flashy training you will do with your dog.  I can't wait to get home to do my separation anxiety training program....said no one ever.  While this may be true, the reward is you will once again be free to live your life with the knowledge and relief that your dog is home and completely relaxed and beats a flashy heel any day.  Successfully overcoming one of the most challenging canine behaviours will be the prize and hands down earns the gold medal in my books.
 
 
Why work with a 'Certified' Separation Anxiety trainer?

CSAT Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer

Cert.SAPT Certified Separations Anxiety Pro Trainer

Separation anxiety training is a specialization.  There are a variety of specializations that dog trainers pursue and working with separation-related behaviours is one of them.  Separation anxiety is rooted in fear and fear is a very difficult behaviour to address.  When we are working to 'fix' this type of behaviour we are working to change the underlying emotional response.  The training is not the same as teaching a sit or any other behaviour.  In applied behaviour terms we are changing the underlying association for the dog to being left alone.  We do this with desensitization - ever so slowly teaching the dog that being left alone is safe.  We are always working with the dog just under the dog's threshold.  If the dog is relaxed, we move forward.  If we note any signs of anxiety even the most subtle signs we stop and maybe even go backwards.  A trainer who chooses to specialize in this field has a finely tuned eye for canine body language and is able to design a training plan that slices the process into very thin steps.  There are currently two certifications for trainers who choose to specialize in this field - the CSAT and Cert.SAPT.  I hold both certifications. Both certifications have a rigorous acceptance process where prior experience and certifications are audited.  You can be assured if a trainer holds one or both of these certifications that have the skills to help you. 

 

Read the latest blog post on the Top 10 Separation Anxiety Myths

  

Separation Anxiety Initial Assessment

Separation Anxiety Dog barking at window

All new clients start with the initial assessment.

What's included:

  • 60 minute consultation
  • Review of your dog's history and your training goals.
  • Assessment to gauge your dog's starting point - I will be able to observe your dog as we are talking.  I will have you conduct a few exercises which may include you leaving the home.  All the time I am observing your dog and how they react to you potentially leaving.
  • An overview of what the training and behaviour modification entails.
  • Recording of the session.
  • Resources and handouts that are applicable to your situation.
  • Frequently asked questions

There are no heavy sales pitches and no pressure.  Of course, we want to help you.  Our heart breaks when we hear some of your stories.  But this program is not easy and does require your commitment, so you do need to be ready.  It has transformed the lives of my clients and their dogs, time and time again. The same is possible for you and your dog.

Assessment value: $150.00 plus tax for a 60-minute consultation (Oct 1/21 $157.00 plus tax)

  

 

 

Hanging With Hounds Success Stories & Client Reviews

Success Story....

Leggett Xena Separation Anxiety Hanging With HoundsXena was about 9-months old when her Mom reached out to me.  Penni could not leave Xena home without her panicking.  Living in an apartment meant that Xena's barking and howling would surely cause a problem with the neighbours not to mention Xena scratching at the door.  Xena would get so stressed her family were worried about her health.  Xena's human family were heartbroken.  They had welcomed Xena into their family for the companionship and were now faced with having to rehome her.  Referred to me from another trainer, we conducted an initial assessment.  Based on what I observed, I recommended Xena's family consult with their Veterinarian about options to help Xena.  Their vet recommended behaviour medication which Xena immediately started.  Once the meds were in place, we began a behaviour modification program and well....the rest is history.

"My name is Xena , I am a 1 yr old Cavapoo, and thanks to Sharon I was able to overcome my fear and panic.If my mom left me alone it would take me less than 1 minute to be paralyzed with fear. I cried, scratched frantically, bite at the bars of my crate to try to get to my mother’s lap. If I lost sight of her I became so scared that she always took me with her. In the winter my mom made sure my car crate ( which I could relax in even if my mom left me alone in the car) was covered with a quilt so I would not get cold. The seasons changed and it was too hot to stay in my car crate, so my mom sought out a dog behaviour specialist who could help both of us. My mom found Sharon at Hanging with Hounds, who seemed like a kind gentle soul who might be able to teach me not to panic when my mom left me for any amount of time. I started to trust Sharon, who would teach my mom how to desensitize me slowly. My mom and I worked hard, slowly , ever so slowly over 3 months I was able to learn how relax and not worry or panic when she left me. It is new found freedom for both of us, but I am so proud after 3 months my mom can have self care time, time to shop, or to do chores without me having a panic attack. Sharon, my mom and I will continue to add to the skills you have taught me, but today I graduated and became a dog who saw the “door as a bore. “ I will also soon work on other skills I I need to learn ,but today I bask in the knowledge I can let my mom out of my sight so she can have a bit of freedom. My 4 legged friends their is no need to panic when your owner needs to leave you alone, have your owner call Sharon, you will really thank me later. Sharon thank you for your assistance and guidance."   - Penni, Sue and Xena   

 Read reviews and success stories from Hanging With Hounds clients.

 

 

Separation Anxiety Training Program

dog separation anxiety barking howling Hanging With Hounds

Prerequiste : Initial Assessment 

Choose either the 4-week or 8-week program. 

A Customized Treatment and Support Program will be created for you - Following the initial assessment, your separation anxiety specialist will create a training plan customized to your dog’s situation and your lifestyle, and then she’ll be there to support and coach you every step of the way.  The program includes:

  • Daily coaching and 20 customized training plans
  • Video review of your training sessions as needed
  • 4 weekly 45-minute check-ins with your trainer
  • Real time video assessment of your dog
  • Unlimited text support during business hours
  • Daily support, coaching and cheerleading
  • Frequently asked questions

Breathe a Sigh of Relief - Go to work knowing there will be no surprises waiting at the end of the day. Enjoy dinner or a movie out without guilt. Run errands without having to take your dog along. In short, enjoy life with your dog anxiety-free.  Your trainer will be there for you, by your side, for the journey you are undertaking.  Don't feel alone again.

Due to the unique nature of separation anxiety and it’s treatment protocols, we can work with dogs and owners suffering from this disorder anywhere via Skype, Zoom or other similar technology.

Ready for Relief?

The program requires a minimum 4-week commitment.  Since we know separation is not fixed quickly, an 8-week option is available at a reduced rate.  The same level of support is provided in both programs.

The value for the 4-week program is $575 plus tax.   (Oct 1/21 $595.00 plus tax)

The value for the 8-week program is $1,025 plus tax.  (Oct 1/21 $1,075.00 plus tax)

 

Hanging With Hounds Success Stories & Client Reviews

Success Story....

Recovered Separation Anxiety Dog ZiggyZiggy was 4-months old when Tara first reached out to me after talking with her vet about Ziggy's crying and howling.  She couldn't go anywhere and was feeling frustrated.  Having had dogs before, she was familiar with puppy crying, but this didn't seem the same.  Her vet suggested she do behaviour modification to help Ziggy be able to relax on his own.  We started Ziggy on separation training and before long he was happy to hang out with his puppy sister, Nora, while his Mom went out.  Unfortunately a few years later Tara reached out again.  Nora has passed away and Ziggy was having trouble adjusting.  His separation anxiety had returned and he was no longer able to be alone.  We started the behaviour modification again and very quickly was able to get Ziggy chilling out on his own.

 

"This is our second time working with Sharon and we love the outcome with or Yorkie who is much braver now in being left alone. Sharon has amazing techniques for separation anxiety to make both you and your dog feel comfortable. I highly recommend her service."

And just now, "Ziggy had the ultimate test of being left alone for hours and seemed to do great! The other day we even left him inside while we relaxed in the hot tub! I almost had to practically wake him up!    .....Tara & Family!    

 Read reviews and success stories from Hanging With Hounds clients.

 

 

 

Not sure if your dog has home alone issues?

Separation Anxiety in Dogs Destruction Hanging With Hounds

It can be challenging to determine if your dog has separation anxiety.  Sometimes we may see what looks like separation anxiety when really the dog is just bored, under-exercised, lacking mental challenge or just spending too much time alone.  Dogs are social creatures, so they long to be with us.  You know what they say - give a dog a job to do or they become self-employed.  A self-employed dog is rarely a good thing. 

Puppies can't have separation anxiety?  Wrong!  They can definitely have separation issues, but it is often really hard to know if we are dealing with normal puppy behaviour or the beginnings of home alone issues.

If you are not sure, have our separation anxiety specialist help you. Book an assessment and we will be able to better advise you if your dog has home alone issues.  

 

Separation Anxiety in Puppies Hanging With Hounds

What's included:

  • 60 minute consultation
  • Review of your dog's history and your training goals.
  • Assessment to gauge your dog's starting point - I will be able to observe your dog as we are talking.  I will have you conduct a few exercises which may include you leaving the home.  All the time I am observing your dog and how they react to you potentially leaving.
  • An overview of what the training and behaviour modification entails.
  • Recording of the session.
  • Resources and handouts that are applicable to your situation.
  • Frequently asked questions

Whether your dog’s behaviour is due to FOMO, panic, or frustration, there is a solution. My program is rooted in the science of behaviour change. 

Assessment value:  $157.00 plus gst

 

 

  

 

 

CSAT Seal

Customized Treatment Program: 

As a graduate of Malena DeMartini’s widely respected separation anxiety training program, we use an innovative program proven to vastly increase training outcomes. The best part? The training steps are easy and you can fit them in around your busy schedule.

SAPRO Badge

We work together using simple remote technologies like Skype and Zoom to monitor your dog during alone time, making sure we’re moving at just the right speed. Ask your dog for too much too fast and we’ll lose the progress we’ve made. And why go slower than we have to? (Don’t worry—you don’t have to be a techie to use our protocols. All you need is a smartphone and a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer with a built-in camera). If your budget permits, we strongly recommend investing in a stand alone camera such as Wyze to Yi. These are much more affordable now and having the camera ready to go when you need means one less thing that you need to do.

Each day your trainer will send you the day’s training steps via a shared online journal. You carry out the steps and record your results. Your trainer then reviews your notes and adjusts the next day’s plan accordingly. Need extra help? She’ll be there.

 

Hanging With Hounds Success Stories & Client Reviews

Success Story....

Abby's family called me in to help them address Abby's separation anxiety.  Life for families living with a separation anxiety dog can be difficult. It is upsetting to watch your dog suffering and you feel helpless to help them.  You can feel out of control and guilty.  It is also common to feel frustrated and angry because a normal life seems impossible.  Even running a simple errand is difficult. We started Abby's behaviour modification program in October and finished working together at the end of November.  Abby's family continued to work on their own with the tools that they had learned.  Here is what they had to say six months later.

This is a long overdue update and thank you.   We just got back from a wonderful 4-hour dinner out with friends. Abby could not have cared less that we were gone. In the last 2 months, I have had a family member in the hospital and I've been able to regularly visit her, get groceries, run errands and live a normal life because the hard work and hours you put in and the tools you gave us and Abby. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!   Tara, Behn and Abby

 Read reviews and success stories from Hanging With Hounds clients.

 

 

Ready to help your hound learn to hang out by herself?

We’d love to relieve you and your dog from the burden of separation anxiety.

 

 

Hanging With Hounds Success Stories & Client Reviews

Read reviews and success stories from Hanging With Hounds clients

 

 

Meet Your Trainer: Sharon Labossiere, PCBC-A, CSAT, Cert.SAPT, KPA-CTP, ADT (IAABC), CPDT-KA, CTDI

sharon frontpageFew conditions are as tragic as separation anxiety. Dogs with this condition literally panic through every moment they’re left alone. Owners of SA dogs suffer deep guilt and worry about their dogs, and the stress of a destroyed house and angry neighbours. For these reasons, few cases are as satisfying as a closed separation anxiety case. I’d love to help you and your dog overcome this awful, life-disrupting disorder.

Before making a four-week program commitment you’ll want to be absolutely sure I’m the right trainer for you. If you haven’t already, you can read about my professional credentials, experience, and training approach here. 

 

  

Separation anxiety FAQ

Read the latest blog post on the Top 10 Separation Anxiety Myths

Sep Anx

You probably have a lot of questions about separation anxiety and its treatment. Here are answers to some of the most common questions our separation anxiety clients have:

Won’t my dog eventually realize I always come back?

Without training, the answer is unfortunately no. SA dogs experience such deep panic that the learning part of the brain shuts down—the same way our own thoughts do when we’re deeply frightened. SA training is all about teaching your dog—slowly and systematically without ever triggering her panic response—that you do indeed always come back.

I have read or been told to let my dog just tough it out?

Separation Anxiety is a panic disorder.  They can no longer control their fear of being left alone then I can control my fear of heights. They are not angry at you leaving and they just won't get over it.

I read that Separation Anxiety is not treatable.  Is this true?

The internet, well-meaning friends and family are full of advice about separation anxiety.  Leave out a food toy - that will keep them busy.  Wrong!  Spray lavender spray or put on calming music.  Wrong again!  The list is endless.  While some of these things might work for some dogs some of the time, for most dogs most of the time, they won't.  At best they fall into the 'might help, can't hurt' category.  The trouble is quite frankly, while you are spending time and money trying all of the advice on the internet, your dog is suffering and so are you.  Separation Anxiety is treatable. CSAT's and Cert.SAPT's fromm all around the world have been treating dogs with separation issues and thanks to them, there are many thousands, of dogs successfully snoozing away while their wonderful owners are out enjoying their life again.

Will I have to put my dog on medication?

I am a dog trainer, not a veterinarian.  I can't and won't diagnose, prescribe or recommend medications.  What I will do is strongly suggest that you speak with your veterinarian about the concerns you have.  In some cases, you may need to speak with a Veterinarian Behaviourist or a veterinarian that specializes in behaviour.  And yes, your veterinarian may prescribe medication in some situations.  I work collaboratively with a client's veterinarian throughout the process so that you have the best combination of medical and behavioural support possible.

Does this program require that I never leave my dog alone?  If I can do that, then why do I need you?

So yes, this program does require that for the duration of the program, your dog is not left alone EXCEPT while practicing an absence exercise.  However, the whole purpose of this program is to teach your dog how to relax by themselves, so that you don't have to be confined to your home.  Living with a separation anxiety dog is hard and can be very isolating for many people.  Wouldn't you like to be able to run out for groceries, or go for a hair appointment, maybe catch a movie without worrying?  I am sure the answer to that question is 'Yes'.  So yes, in the beginning, we ask you to commit to not leaving your dog alone.  While this seems daunting, it is possible.  I have many clients who have done this, even when in the beginning they thought it was too much to ask for.  Asking friends and family to help out, using pet sitters and doggie daycares make this very possible.  It is not always easy, but it is possible.

Can I sneak out and leave my dog if they are sleeping?

While this might seem like a win-win situation for both of you and you might find for a time that you can get away with, it comes with big risk.  Even if you have done this successfully and gotten away with it, if there comes a time when your dog wakes while you are out and becomes distressed you may well find that your dog's anxiety becomes worse.  Now he has learned that you cannot be trusted and that he had better keep a much closer eye on you.  Honestly, it is just not worth it.  To be frank and I am not recommedning this just to be clear, I would sooner you walk out the door in full view of your dog than teach him that you can't be trusted.

Can't I just confine my dog to a crate?

Unfortunately, no.  It is really common for dogs that suffer from this condition to be anxious when confined.  There is also a high correlation for dogs that have separation anxiety to have noise phobias as well.  A panicked dog will go to incredible lengths to break free of a crate, often breaking teeth and injuring themselves in the process.  But don't worry!  The only time your dog will be alone will be when we are practicing an exercise and we will have 'eyes' on them at all times.  Whew! 

Would it help if I got a second dog to keep my dog company?

Unfortunately, the answer to this one is no, too. There have been a handful of documented cases in which a dog suffering from SA was comforted by the presence of a canine companion. But the vast majority of SA dogs, even those who actively enjoy the company of other dogs, are only soothed by human companionship.  By all means get a second dog if:

  • You used to have a second dog, but when they died the remaining dog started to show separation anxiety.
  • You have been thinking about getting a second dog for a while and are ready for the extra financial committment, time and training required.
  • That you are okay if the new dog doesn't get along with the current dog.
  • That you are okay if the new dog does not help with your current dog's separation anxiety.

My advice is don't get another dog to fix your current dog.  There is a high probability that the new addition will not fix your current dog's separation anxiety.  If you really want to test this out, consider fostering a dog or dog sitting a friend or family member's dog etc, to see if you notice your current dog responding.  And remember, give it time.  A few days will not give you an accurate reading.  You need to see how your dog's behaviour responds over a longer period of time, so plan for a minimum of a few weeks.

What causes separation anxiety?

In all honesty, we don't really know why separation anxiety affects some dogs and not others.  Separation anxiety is an anxiety disorder that some dogs, due to temperament, are more susceptible or predisposed to than others—just as we humans have varying degrees of susceptibility to anxiety issues.  Separation anxiety is not a behaviour.  It is not something your dog chooses.  In some cases, separation anxiety is triggered by a traumatic experience. Common triggers are losing a home, a family move, a change in the family such as a divorce or death, the loss of a doggie companion, or a frightening incident such as a home burglary.  The current research is pointing to the following factors but so much more research is needed before we can conclusively point to a specific thing:

  • Genetics
  • Early life experiences *
  • Maternal stress durung pregnancy
  • Maternal behaviour
  • Bad experiences - things that happened that made the situation worse *

So before you feel guilt over something you have done to cause your dog's anxiety, let me clarify.  Of the above list, the only two items that you might have any influence over are the ones flagged with an asterix.  Home alone training for puppies is critical preventative training to ensure a puppy can relax on their own as they grow.  It ranks up there with house training in my view. Ensuring that your puppy does not have fearful experiences is always something we need to strive for as expereincing one fearful event can imprint on the dog with lasting effects.  You cannot affect the genetics of your dog and unless you are breeding your dogs, you have no ability to affect how your dog's mother's stress levels or behaviour were, while in-utero or after birth.

Allowing your dog to sleep on your bed or being kind and gentle with your dog will not result in a dog that has separation anxiety.  

For other common myths, please read my blog on the Top Separation Anxiety Myths.

How do I know if my dog has separation anxiety?

Usually, the symptoms of separation anxiety are hard to ignore.  These include howling, incessant barking, pacing, whining, over-zealous greetings when you return, destruction of furniture, walls and doors, elimination (peeing and pooping) in the house in an otherwise housetrained dog, injury and self-harm, escaping crates or trying to break out of the room, or the home.  However there are instances when the dog does not have home alone issues, but still shows some of these same behaviours.  Lack of exercise or mental enrichment, boredom, housetraining problems, too much time alone can yield the same symptoms but the root cause is not fear or anxiety. Your separation trainer can help you determine if you are dealing with separation anxiety or boredom, FOMO or frustration and advise the right training plan to address the problem behaviour.  This is why we require an assessment first, before committing to a program.

How long will training take?

It varies greatly from several months to a year or more for a dog with separation anxiety to learn to spend a full day on her own, but in most cases, you’ll be able to leave your dog for short periods of time relatively quickly. And the good news is that, although progress is slow in the beginning, done right it can gain speed like a snowball rolling downhill. By the end of your initial four weeks of training, you and your trainer will have a good sense of your dog’s learning curve and progress speed.  Many factors affect how long it takes to resolve the behaviour such as how long the dog has been living with the issue, the dog's prior learning history, genetics, client commitment, diligence, availability and management.  Always bear in mind, dealing with separation related behaviour issues is not like another other type of dog training.  We are dealing with fear and what we are doing is trying to change the emotional response to that fear.  This takes time.  I am not helping you if I tell you that you are going to see great progress in a few weeks.  This is not how it works. If we see excellent progress in a few weeks, than likely we are not dealing with true separation anxiety or fear. Sorry!  Historically based on average results, many clients can achieve 2-3 hours within a 6 month period.  But this is a guideline only. Some dogs take longer.

Can you guarantee that you will fix my dog?

As with all dog training, we cannot guarantee success.  We wish we could but the reality is that dogs are living, breathing, thinking creatures and so many factors influence the success both during the training program and following its completion.  Ethically we cannot guarantee success. In fact, I would be wary of any trainer that offers you a guarantee.

What happens at the end of the 4-week initial commitment?

As we approach the end of the initial 4-week commitment, we will discuss the next steps.  Except for a minority of cases, almost all clients will have seen progress.  Depending on your goal, you may still have a ways to go, but by now you understand the process and you can see the first glimmers of your dog beginning to relax...sigh!  Most clients choose to continue with coaching support.  I will discuss the pro's and con's with you, but ultimately how you proceed is up to you.  I will do everything in my power to set you up for success no matter what you decide. There is an option to sign up for an 8-week program.  This is worth considering as more often than not separation related issues take longer than 4-weeks to resolve.  Once you reach a duration of approximately 30-minutes there are more levels of support that I can offer you that are less intensive and more economical.

You say that I will have to use technology in this process.  I am not very technical. 

Yes!  We use technology to watch your dog real-time.  You don't have to be very techie to be able to do this.  With today's technology - laptop, tablets and smartphones, Skype and Zoom - a certified separation anxiety trainer can help anyone, anywhere in the world.  A word of advice - setting up cameras each time can become very irritating and in some situations the dog begins to alert to the camera set up process as a departure cue.  Definitely not what we want to happen.  Stand alone cameras have become so affordable and reliable now.  It is definitely worth considering going this route in my expereince if for no other reason than to remove one aggravating chore from your daily training exercises.  

 

 

Private behaviour modification and separation anxiety dog training in Sooke/Langford or anywhere across Canada.