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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think my one year old blm might have a bit of separation anxiety. This is probably a pretty broad question but does anyone do any type of exercises/drills/whatever you want to call them that build up your dog's independence?
 

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The older he gets and the more training you do, the more confident he'll become.

Trouble is, he might always have separation anxiety issues.

My lab pups, who I get at 7-9 weeks, get used to being in the crate when I'm gone. So far none have had separation anxiety issues.

Years ago I did get a German Wirehair pup at 4 months. She had separation anxiety issues from the get go and still had them when she died at 9. I treat my lab pups about the same way as I treated her. She was with me everywhere I went. Was crated at night and when I couldn't take her with me. She was trained close to everyday.
 

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Don't reward any display of fear anxiety: "it's OK, I'm just going to the store/work/WHY, I'll be back soon, you are such a good dog" all the while your dog is fretting and whining...worse yet, don't give him a food treat in the hopes he will be pacified.

Don't make a fuss when you return...you are conveying that he was correct to have experience fear while you were away, come home like it's the most natural thing in the world and don't make a big deal out of it at least for a few minutes.

Like Howard said, your dog may never get over his separation anxiety but if he does, perhaps then you can relax your return behavior and be more demonstrative.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've done all that. I come home, walk past his kennel, take off my shoes, hang up my jacket, take everything out of my pockets, etc etc etc, then let him out. He's calm when I come home, then goes bazerker when I let him out, where I continue to 'ignore' him. I've done the pennies in a can trick, squirt water bottle trick, leave and come back at random times and I just ignore him as I leave. As soon as I close that door he goes Capt Insano on me!!

It's not as bad but he's get real anxious when I leave him in the car and head into the gas station. He only barks for a short period of time but he starts whining as soon as I pull into a parking lot. Maybe I should just start pulling into random parking lots so he won't be able to figure out if I am leaving him or not?!!?? lol

Even other people that stop by the house. He'll start barking at them as they get into their car and drive off.

Maybe it's something I just have to wait and see if he gets better when he settles down around age two. I was just wondering if there was anything others were doing.

The main reason for my concern is because he recently failed the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test where he had to spend a nice and quiet three minutes in a room alone with a stranger. We may have been the only one and I was a little embarrased. I want a nice strong solid confident dog.
 

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Continued OB (and field) training is one of the best ways to increase a dog's general confidence. At age 1 it sounds like this dog is not really 'finished' and therefore he was not reliable on a 3-minute sit. This does not sound like a hard core case of seperation anxiety, but perhaps a little tendency toward that with a need for continued training. And don't assume 'waiting for him to settle down at age 2' will work - ha! (I am still waiting for my almost-13 boy to settle down!) - be pro-active and creative in your training.
 

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I have a 5-year-old that begins barking as soon as he knows I have reached consciousness each morning, and mind you the dog is on a separte floor of the house. He is tuned into my breathing!! No kidding!! I spend each morning yelling "SHUT UP TATE" and expect I will have to do this for the next decade until he dies of old age. He will bark on a Tritronics 5. Once he sees me (a daily miracle in his mind) he calms down. That is, until I come into the driveway each evening and then it starts up again. And then I usually start yelling at him again to be quiet. Today, he was only half-insane. I've tried ignoring. Doesn't work. If I really yell at him, he will stop barking as much as he is able. The dog is insanely in love with me. I guess it is my burden to bear.:D
 

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Daniel,

I don't disagree with anything much that has been said, quite possibly things will improve over time, there are however things you can try that address the problem itself and might well provide a more reliable way forward.

First off aversives and mild punishments like water pistols and rattly cans and such aren't going to help; more likely they will up the ante and make things worse. Remember the old joke about the concentration camp? "The floggings will continue until morale improves!" Ain't gonna happen.

There aren't any drills as such for this, but techniques do exist for changing animal behaviour; you've already gone a bit of the way with the "leave and come back" and the ignoring strategy, but you haven't got it quite right or gone far enough. It'd be a help to have a marker such as a clicker too, rather than use your voice.

What we need to do is reward the dog for behaviour we see as acceptable, in this case being calm and quiet. The best reward is going to be your close presence; it'll be a bit like steadying to fall, he'll get what he wants only if he sits still.

OK, give yourself at least half an hour for this first step and have the dog in his crate, and stand by it. When he is calm, click and step forward to the crate. No voice, no reassurance of any kind, the only body language you need is the step. Then take two steps back from him and repeat. Do this stepwise (groan!) until you are close to the outside door and getting reliable acceptable behaviour. If you get the messing about, just wait him out, that's why you need time for this. When he shuts up click and step back to the crate. It will likely take a few sessions.

There are going to be cues that set him off being stupid, car keys, outdoor shoes, coat, whatever, and obviously the door being opened. You're going to have to work through all of them. When I got to the point I could open the outside door I'd sit down and have a bloody good think. You know your dog best and what works for you and probably how you can take him forward.

All it will take to try it out is a $3 clicker and some time one weekend; worth a go?

Eug

PS. My old riding instructor and mentor Maj. Fisher used to do something similar (only in reverse) with skittish ponies. He'd never heard of behaviour theory but it worked well enough for him.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
thanks for all the advice. I'll grab a clicker when I'm at the store next.

Our OB training classes just started up again this week. We are doing the CGC again as well as Rally and even a tracking class next month, followed up with a nosework class after that. I'm hoping that helps with his confidence. Also have fowl dogs that I'll be starting as soon as I get it back from my buddy!!!!!
 

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There are a few amongst us who think you may perhaps do better than Fowl Dawgs for a collar based program; look at the top of the page for one well supported alternative. In particular the basic OB treatment is IMO very poor, so is the "socialisation" section. There is a great deal of nagging, mistimed corrections, imprecision and clumsiness.

Now, others disagree, sometimes vehemently. Their view is as valid as mine.

Again, pay your money and take your choice.

Eug
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Gotcha. To each their own I guess. I didn't see anything bad when I was researching and spent the money a while back so I'll stick with it for now.

I'm in formal OB training classes at a local AKC kennel club so I was really only planning on using Fowl Dogs for the CC and FF. I'm new to this whole dog training and everything and am going at my own slow pace. I don't even bird hunt at all but when I do I'd like my boy to go get my birds for me. I'm not going to care if he doesn't go in a straight line or all that stuff. I realize any issues will be my own fault. :)

I thank you again though!
 

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I think stawski's program is solid. It is very similar to lardy's which I follow but I have to agree with the colonel on the nagging etc. He apparently does produce fine dogs but my sensitive little pup wouldn't have lasted a week with if i would have mirrored the training style on the dvds. He does have an excellent description of swimby which has really helped me though. Good sequential program but to me it leaves much to be desired as an example of good training. Particularly for sensitive dogs.
 
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