TIP #1: PHARMACOLOGICAL 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!
TIP #2: PHYSICAL EXERCISE - A PRIMER TO TRAINING
Intense physical exercise alone won't tire out a high-energy dog, but it does take the edge off so that when you're ready to work with him to teach calm behaviors, he is able to focus and participate in the training. The physical exercise sets him up for training success.
First, let's agree that leaving your dog out in his own fenced-in backyard does not qualify as "exercise". He needs to be actively engaged.
Outings to your local well-run dog park can be a good exercise option. If you don't have one in your area, invite compatible canines over to play in your dog's fenced yard. If you don't have one, invite yourself and your dog over to your dogfriend's fenced yard for play dates.
Absent any access to a dog-friendly fenced yard, play with your dog on a long line. A 50-foot line gives him a 100-foot stretch to run back and forth and work his jollies off.
Caution: Work up to 50 feet gradually, so he learns where the end of the line is. You don't want him to blast full-speed to the end of his long line and hurt himself. Also, wear long pants. A high speed long-line wrapped around bare legs can give you a nasty rope burn.
If none of those work for you, having him wear a pack when you walk him, or even better, pull a cart (which takes significant training), or exercising him (safely) from a bicycle may be options for using up excess energy.
- excerpted from Calm Down Rover! Teach Your High-Energy, Hyperactive Dog to Chill Out & Relax
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI