Confidence Building: The Solution to Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

The love we share with our canines is a wondrous thing. But creating an overwhelming need for attention is a recipe for misbehavior when we must leave our pets at home alone. Seeking a simple solution that may help with your pet’s separation anxiety? Read on.

I haven’t featured a pet based post recently, but in view of a friend’s recent experience, I decided it was my duty, as an experienced pet owner, long-time obedience trial competitor, certified dog groomer, to impart a bit of advice concerning a problem which causes property damage and emotional distress for owners, threats of eviction for pets in rental homes and apartments.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Some symptoms listed by a FETCH by WebMD post, exhibited by dogs suffering separation anxiety include, but are not limited to:

  • Obsessive pacing
  • Drooling
  • Excessive howling, barking or whining
  • Having accidents when owners are away for a short time, although housebroken
  • Chewing, digging, scratching
  • Panting for no apparent reason
  • Frantically trying to escape via windows or doors

Contributing Factors Resulting in Separation Anxiety Symptoms

Does your dog freak out when you leave? – asks this Humane Society of the United States Post. The article goes on to list some of the potential reasons pets become anxious when their people are away from the house.

Generally, theses “canine panic attacks” can be caused by one or more of a few general issues.

Previous Experiences

A traumatic background – like being sent to a shelter after having a home – one or more times.

A change in routine of a loving family member – as when a pet was adopted by someone working from home who then returned to a conventional position requiring long hours away each day.

Altered family structure following an event like a death, divorce, a child leaving for college or marrying and moving out.

Owner Over-attachment

Dogs are very intuitive regarding their owners feelings, though sometimes feelings can be misinterpreted. An owner who lavishes constant affection on a pet when at home, and is overly demonstrative when leaving the house is setting up a typical scenario which can result in separation anxiety.

Genetic Predisposition

Some pets are simply more prone to separation anxiety due to inherited temperament.

Creating an Independent and Confident Pet

Various specific techniques and actions can be employed for each individual situation, but generally speaking confidence and a stable environment are most important in preventing and correcting separation anxiety issues:

Inspiring confidence in your pet

Enroll your dog in an ethical training class. Learn how to work your canine; the best ways to offer correction and praise.

Pets who must follow guidelines, who know what is expected of them, who experience consistent praise and support for proper behavior feel more confident and secure, they are better able to spend time alone without worrying when their humans will come home.

(Of course setting up the proper environment when you leave is important too. Pet proof an area and leave a few safe toys for mental stimulation.)

Minimize Emotional Highs and Lows

Don’t make a big deal of greeting your pet when you leave and arrive. Be positive, but treat the times as a normal part of every day. You are not leaving forever, just a few hours. Don’t make your pet feel you are upset. Don’t act like you’ve been gone for years when you enter the house after work.

Being aware of how our own behavior appears to our pets is a major factor for preventing separation anxiety and other behavior problems. Need more help in solving your dog’s behavior issues? Contact a certified trainer or canine behavior specialist who utilizes positive reinforcement methods.

Can Collies and Swans Get Along?

I’m guessing the answer is “no”?

Swans, I’ve heard are elegant and highly independent birds. So perhaps a dog who might try to herd them wouldn’t be welcome.

But this lovely collie and the two graceful ceramic swans look lovely together in the window display of a local shop.

Pet People Connections – Relationships that Sustain Us When Family and Friends Fail Us

This photo reminds my of my favorite tabby, our Penelope.

The kitty who goes on car trips with us. Who’s been with us a  bit over ten years, but who looks young for her age, and has very beautiful skin, both according to her veterinarian.

Tabbies have a reputation of being easy going, and that’s been my experience, from the ones we lived with, over our lifetime. Penelope has been the only “in the house cat” for years. Now she is having to put up with Vanna, another type of tabby.

Vanna has unique markings, including one leg that’s an orange tabby pattern. Maybe it’s that orange cat in her that gives her a bit of spunk. Though they don’t actually fight, she and Penelope are sorting out their relationship with staredowns and gentle punches.

We treasure them both, as we have all of our pets. They give us solace, when humans fail us.

Much research has been done on the benefits of the pet-people bond. But we don’t need studies to feel the love of our cats, dogs, whatever type of creature with whom we share our lives.


Weekly Wisdom – The Penny Mason Post

Whiskers in the Dark  by Rita Mae Brown takes the reader on a trip back in time, reminds us of of the ways in which past and present connect on both a personal and big picture basis.

As always in this series, Harry (Mary Minor Haristeen, former postal clerk, farmer, wife of veterinarian Fair Haristeen . . . who lives near Crozet, Virginia) investigates murders, preserves history, interacts with a menagerie of creatures.

Rather than fox hunting, this novel focuses upon the sports of Beagling and Bassetting. (rabbit hunting).

The present day murders are tied up in the military pasts of the victims and action for which they were earlier responsible.

Harry solves the case, but the ending of this one leave us making judgment calls along with Harry.

The concept of justice is sometimes complex.

P.S. There is a happy ending for Ruffy, the little ghost beagle who hangs out with Harry’s pets.

Memories of Maxwell – and All the Dogs of My Life

I used to be a dog person. In recent years, I’ve gone to the cats.  Never thought it would happen to me, but cats are simply an easier fit with the style of my life these days.

I miss training and showing in obedience trials. The shelties were so intuitive, the beagles great fun to work with too, in spite of their distractable demeanor. But I must admit, winter is easier with felines. They don’t have to be taken outside into the snow three or more times per day.

Pictured is Maxwell, who loved the lake like I do. I remember this beautiful day in September though I can’t immediately recall the year. The little town on the lake held a delightful festival, centered upon canines and other four legged friends.

Max would have made a wonderful therapy dog. He loved all creatures except for horses. And everyone except those who rode bicycles. A wonderful find from a local shelter, Max completed the first two levels of obedience titles with ease, and filled our lives with love and lighthearted moments for sixteen and a half years.



A Bevy of Boxers Chained to their Mother

What a cute secondhand store find. Such a beautiful, whimsical design. Is it an ashtray, or a soap dish? Who would take the chance of actually using it? Oh, maybe it’s one of those dishes men keep on their dresser to hold change?

If anyone knows the true identity of this item, please let me know.

Especially Shelties

All dog breeds are beautiful whether a rugged breed like Mountain Cur or the tiny and prim Toy French Poodle. I’m actually not too familiar with the Mountain Cur, but I’ve know some folks who have owned them. Or perhaps been owned by them, as dog/owner relationships can sometimes be interpreted.

I love all animals, but many of us do come across a type or breed that resonates with us as our own personal perfect pet. Shetland Sheepdogs have served that purpose for me.

Though I don’t live with dogs now, (2 cats share our space at present), I’ve had three special Shelties in my life, all of whom I showed in AKC obedience trials.

There’s nothing like training and showing a dog to bring one closer to all creatures. You learn to read each other’s body language with little need for words after a while. Especially with Shelties.

The breed looks and acts quite fairy-like as though they live in spirit, or at least in another, more genteel time period. They read minds and aim to please, their sweet personalities making up for their love of barking, and need for frequent grooming.

Pictured is Maxwell – a gorgeous creature, (this photo doesn’t do him justice). His hair is a bit mussed from a day at the lake. He was as fun loving as he was beautiful.

Shelties are not a good breed selection for everyone. But there is a best breed for nearly all who wish to care for a canine. Consider your lifestyle, do your research, decide if you can give a pet a good home. If the answer is yes, I wish you the best possible life with your canine companion.

Calming Your Canine, a simple – effective guide for improving your pet’s behavior  is available on Amazon. Published by


Pre-training Your Pet Before You Enroll Can Create an Obedience School Star

via Daily Prompt: Enroll

On maplewoodblog today, I read an article recommending putting a leash on your puppy when he’s not in his crate, for ease in getting him to the door for housetraining – and to redirect him without effort if he’s headed somewhere he shouldn’t be.

Such a simple thing, so effective and easier for owners too. Yet so many balk at doing simple things that prevent problems down the road. A Penny Mason Publications offering, Calming Your Canine: One Simple Step to a Better Behaved Pet by Kathryn Gerwig (2015-11-19) offers more simple, sensible ways for owners to change behavior before enrolling in obedience classes. I’ve attended many sessions where the canines were completely out of control at the first class. Some remained so at graduation day. A room full of dogs that have not received previous socialization or training is not an ideal  environment for learning, to say the least.

The book and maplewoodblog’s site offer ways to shape behavior, helping your pet to better benefit from the socialization and assistance offered when you enroll in formal classes.

NOTE: Never leave the leash on when you’re not watching your pet!

If you have a puppy, best wishes for a long and happy life together. If not perhaps a friend could benefit from this tip. I’m posting this on the pennymasonpublications facebook page too. You’re welcome to share.