Managing Your Puppy’s Impatience and Anxiety
I recently began working with a 4 month old puppy who had been prescribed anti-anxiety medication by his vet for “separation anxiety.” The puppy’s owners cited the behaviors the vet thought suitable for medication were barking in the crate, barking when separated from his owners by a door or barrier and barking when left alone.
To me, these all seemed like normal puppy reactions to these scenarios. However, I had just met the pup so I wanted to respect the orders of the vet and see what happened when we started implementing structure into the home before condemning the medication. Spoiler alert: 4 classes later, the puppy is off the medication and behaving wonderfully in the home.
Here’s what we did!
Step 1: Crate Training
We spent a lot of time during class #1 covering crate training. I set both the humans and the pup up for success by starting at the beginning with the very basics.
Step 2: Teaching Impulse Control (Patience)
The next class we began working on the very basics of what would later become the “leave it” command. The puppy was also taught his name as a command (your name = you give me eye contact) in order to begin laying a foundation of focus.
Step 3: Enrichment
Myself and the pup’s parents brainstormed multiple ways to mentally wear out their puppy based on what they already knew of his personality. (He’s a mystery mixed breed, so we had to figure out what his drives are and where his natural interests lie.)
After 4 weeks of implementing structured crate training, teaching impulse control and introducing new brain games into his life the pup’s behavior in the home did a complete 180 and has been taken off his medication.
While some dogs with serious behavior issues do need a short stint of medications in order to help curb their behaviors in the initial teaching phases, most common “issues” can be solved by cracking down on the basics.
The results of implementing structure and reinforcing the basics will most often transfer into other areas of the pup’s life. Give it a try and let us know the results!
– Maddie Guy & Rudder