TIP #1: TELL HIM WHAT YOU WANT HIM TO DO
There is nothing wrong with telling your dog "No", and it will probably interrupt the behavior for a moment, but it's not enough information to truly stop a behavior. Instead, tell the dog what you want him to do. Is your dog begging at the table? Tell him to go to his bed or crate, and reinforce that behavior. Jumping up at visitors? Tell your dog to go to his place and sit to earn the attention he desires. Clear communication is one of the keys to success.
TIP #2 PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTION
"I'm not going to put my dog on drugs!"
"I don't want my dog to be a zombie!"
I have heard these types of comments over the years from owners of dogs with major separation issues. The sad part is that as much as those folks loved their dogs and thought they were protecting them by avoiding drugs, the dogs were suffering greatly, and could have been greatly aided by pharmacological intervention. Now, I'm the last person to cavalierly suggest that a dog needs to be on drugs; it's not the right solution for every individual, and there are potential side effects with any type of medication. But the side effects of chronic, severe emotional distress must also be considered. Just as with people, constant or even frequent anxiety can cause all manner of physical ills. Dogs can become afflicted with gastric ulcers, atrophy of the lymphatic glands, and even suppression of the immune system, which in turn opens the door for illness and disease.
That said, a course of drug therapy, as helpful as it may be, is not likely to solve your dog's separation issues on its own. Drugs are meant to be used in conjunction with a behavior modification program, not as an alternative to it.
- excerpted from Don't Leave Me! Step-by-Step Help for Your Dog's Separation Anxiety by Nicole Wilde
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI