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Dog Training/Separation anxiety


Hello Jeff,
I have a male golden retriever 15 months, the dog history is that he stayed almost one year in a room on a roof alone, he did not have any attention, may be every couple of days the owner used to see him, he is not trained at all and of course half of his supposed weight as the vet said. I talked to the owner and convinced him to take the dog to someone else and he said ok but I can't take him at my place so I tried to give him to any of my friends but the problem is he is always barking when left alone, so three friends tried taking him and failed because the neighbors complained from his continuous barking at night, the dog is always pacing and can't tolerate 30 seconds without anyone having his arms or fingers on him, he wants constant attention, if u leave him for one min and return it is as if u left him for ages and of course he starts barking the moment u leave. The dog now is with one of my friends feeding him carefully giving him plenty of exercises and walks but still the dog barks and if not cured ASAP I will have to reallocate him again I need your advice to help my friend correct this before the neighbors go crazy, my friend's family are very happy with him and spend all the day with him but they leave him outside in the garden at night and immediately starts barking and rests may be for 5 mins every now and then continue barking, we need simple advice as my friend never raised a dog and inexperienced.
Thanks Jeff

Hi David,
So sorry this is happening. The poor guy has had a rough beginning and needs help. He is lucky to have found someone willing to help him. Separation anxiety is one of the (if not the) most challenging dog training topics because ideally he is never left alone for a duration longer than he can handle. Obviously this makes it impossible to have a life and take care of him. I would strongly recommend speaking with a veterinarian versed in anti-anxiety medications for dogs and also try and find a skilled trainer to help you. I sell a separation anxiety book on my dog training site and here is a pretty good article about it as well.

The treatment is fairly straightforward, but it takes a lot of time, repetition and patience. You can't speed up the progress, unfortunately. For dogs with extreme anxiety (sounds like he qualifies) it makes sense to bring the dog to daycare or a neighbor's house when someone can't watch him at his primary home. It is imperative to try and prevent a regression caused by leaving him for a time longer than he can handle.

Hopefully this helps. You need to realize that if he has true separation anxiety he is having panic attacks when alone. Being angry or expecting him to learn how to be alone without proper desensitization strategies is a losing battle.

Good luck.  

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Jeff Millman


I studied with Jean Donaldson in San Francisco in 2002. She is one of the foremost dog trainers anywhere and I sought her out and traveled from Chicago to work with her. I am expert in all phases of dog development in regards to training. I can offer advice from young puppies through adult including aggression, separation anxiety and barking. While aggression is often handled best in person by a skilled positive reinforcement trainer, a lot of advice can be spread in this forum. I have written EBooks on separation anxiety and barking and am currently writing a book about dog aggression.


I have been working as a full-time professional dog trainer since 2002. I only use positive reinforcement techniques and am well-versed in using the clicker. My clients do not have to use a clicker to have success using my techniques. I started teaching 14 classes a week for the first two years while I was building up my private practice, Chicago Paws. Since 2004 I have worked exclusively as a private trainer in the Chicago area. On January 1, 2007 I launched an online version of my business that can be viewed at Watch and Train. At you will find streaming videos for purchase that play directly on your computer and cover a variety of specific topics including house training, jumping, come when called, counter surfing and leash walking.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Dog training: I graduated with honors from Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers in San Francisco, CA. I attended Karen Pryor;s Clicker Expo in Chicago, IL. I attended week-long APDT conferences in Portland Oregon, Orlando, Florida and Oakland, California. I attended a Pat Miller seminar in Chicago, IL. Previous education: Journalism and Fine Arts degree from Indiana University.

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