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A closeup shot of peanuts in their shells.

Won't she just "get over it"?

Habituation is the technical term for "getting over it" and unfortunately, when it comes to separation anxiety, many dogs don't do this very well. Instead, they sensitise; they become more sensitive.

Our goal with this program is to desensitise your dog to alone time so that they can tolerate longer and longer absences without the anxiety they are currently experiencing. It is a gradual experience, as opposed to a similar (but also VERY different) technique called flooding.

Flooding is a technique that involves exposing the patient/dog to their trigger at a level that is overwhelming with the idea that their panic will peak and then eventually lessen or disappear. (Remember the show Fear Factor? Not terribly effective in the treatment of fears, right?)

Unfortunately, for dogs who are experiencing isolation distress, being left home alone for any period of time is the very same thing. Certainly not as entertaining as was that show!

Does systematic desensitisation actually work?

Yes. It absolutely can and does work when it is done correctly.

You have likely been given the "Coles' Notes" version of this process by Dr.Google - leave for short periods of time and gradually increase the length of the absences until your dog tolerates the absence without barking.

< insert eye-rolling here >

This is very, very generic advice, and while it is well-meant, it is not accurate, nor is it helpful.

Many people try this and most see absolutely no results, leaving them feeling frustrated and hopeless.

This is where we Certified Separation Anxiety Trainers hear the comment, "I tried systematic desensitisation and it didn't work for my dog." The truth is that they tried an accelerated and non-specific version of systematic desensitisation and because the individual's baseline was not taken into consideration and the process was far from systematic, it was not successful. It's like trying to perform a complicated surgical procedure without ever having studied medicine.

Let us help you because we know how.

Here is your first homework assignment: Watch this fascinating video and imagine how it applies to your dog's current situation:

Isn't that an interesting analogy? 

Perhaps we should call this process "EIT - Emotional Immunotherapy"! (See Extra Resources below)

We do exactly this, but with absences; we're going to build your dog's emotional immune response to alone time.

As you know from the failure of the "Coles' Notes" version of the training protocol, this is a bit of a scientific process, which is why it's strongly recommended that you work through this with a qualified professional. Certified Separation Anxiety Trainers (CSATs) are just that. We are trained in this protocol and have worked with hundreds and hundreds of cases to full resolution.