Slice of Life is inspired by the desire and challenge of living our lives in the moment. Days go by, weeks go by, years... but we can still choose over and over again to look at our own lives in small installments. These installments (or slices of life) can be walks taken in the hills, naps or a glass of Rioja. For me, what makes my slices super meaningful is being able to share with others the moments of my day with dogs in play, training or napping where we're all piled up on the bed.

My slices of life are full of events and experiences that are meaningful to me. As a former professional photographer, I still “see” so many pictures (or vignettes) as I interact with my dogs and the world around me on a daily basis. Most of the time I am not capturing these moments with a camera anymore. Instead, I am just showing up... I must say, that I do miss having a register of events outside of my head so that at my leisure I can relish a past moment as I am transported by a visual or written recollection of days gone by.

With the immediacy of all things digital, perhaps I can have my cake and eat it too. I can continue to do my work as a dog trainer and also register here and there moments of living a life in the company of dogs. I hope you will occasionally take a peek, and that my slices of life transport you in a glee of YOUR own!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Pack of Coyotes

We recently decided to head out early for our regular hike with the dogs. As we are heading outside our property, we hear a pack of coyotes that have taken “residence” not too far from us. It is hard to know exactly where they are because the canyons around us make the sound bounce.
John suggests we wait to take our walk. Meeting one coyote is one thing, meeting a pack of an unknown amount is quite another. I look at the dogs and they are super excited to take their walk. I tell John, let’s go and have the dogs on-leashes.

We begin our walk and up the steep hill with the dogs on-leash as they are perhaps wondering what is up with that. We make it up the hill where visibility to the rest of the ridges in now possible.
A while back, I saw a pack of about 8 coyotes awaiting a storm under a tree. Wow! What a sight. While I saw them, it appeared that perhaps they did not see me as none of them seemed to acknowledge my existence.

Once on the ridge, we scout the area as we can still hear them yipping, yet none in sight. We remove the leashes and we proceed to walk on the ridge away from the coyotes or at least where we think the coyotes are not. I tell John that we should not drop into the wash as we normally do, but to remain on the ridge for the walk. Clearly this allows us to scan the area for a coyote versus being on the wash which makes me also feel more vulnerable.

Today, we are also managing the dogs more closely. I ask them to wait until we close the distance between them. I recall them back and set them off again to do their thing.
Once we reached our destination and it’s time to head back, John surprises me by suggesting that we put them again on leashes. Okay, I say thinking that a bit of loose leash walking is not a bad thing either. By now, both dogs are a bit tired and somewhat hot.

Situations like this make me think about the importance of being flexible with our routines when it comes to keeping our dogs safe. Usually this walk means our dogs are loose as they explore an area that is both familiar to them and us, but on occasions like today, where the coyotes are in such close proximity, keeping them on a leash was the right thing to do.

Lots of folks would rather see their dog run free (I agree nothing more fun for both parties) than manage their dog carefully when needed. I have come across this line of thinking many times with some of my clients. Some have even confessed to me that if their dog runs away and gets lost well, that is their karma. Yep, I listen in disbelief!

I see it differently. I am all for fun and games but I take my dogs well-being (and that of my client’s dogs when they are left in my care) with utmost seriousness. They do depend on us many times to keep them safe.

Here is an interesting example: In Yellowstone National Park, wolves that are hit by a car will be brought in to the clinic to mend, but a wolf that is perhaps injured by natural causes would not. I found this bit interesting and surmised that being hit by a car is of course very unfortunate and clearly not part of the natural environment of wild animals such as the wolves packs at the park.

Just like the wolves are helped when hit by a car, I think the reverse should apply to our dogs: They need to be cared for and managed appropriately depending on the behavior of the particular dog. Will the dog come back pronto when called? Is he old and not so keen on taking after wildlife in hot pursuit? The particular environment should also be considerate: What is potentially around us? A heavy-trafficked road? On and off-leash areas next to each other? What kind of wildlife is around? And even the time of day.
In my case, our walks are smack against Santa Fe National Forest with the possibility of encountering wildlife. Not too long ago, John and the dogs were in very close proximity to an elk; and as John later described the encounter, the elk took off running away from our dogs and almost ran into him as he admired the size of the animal just before he made a rushed turn away from John.

My advice to folks is to pay attention to the circumstances around them in order to keep their dogs safe. Our dogs do depend on us many times to do just that. Be flexible with your management routine so that everyone can have fun while remaining safe. Your dog will thank you and I do too.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

How to do socialization well

This week I have spent almost every waking hour taking care of and socializing a young puppy.
How do you know what to work on? Well think about it this way:  Whatever you want your adult dog to be comfortable with and not scared of for the rest of his life, that is what you should be working on.  The list of items on a well-crafted socialization program is daunting, time consuming and necessary for the well-being of this young animal as he marches into adulthood and then towards his golden years.

My ‘young keep’ was raised in the country and unfortunately there was little to no socialization to urban environments. I know, I can hear you gasp. The good news is that he is still young enough (16 weeks old) and we can work diligently and intelligently in making him super chill with urban stimuli.
Here is what happened on our first urban outing:  We got to a mall that is fairly busy, but it's not a very huge mall. Initially he was happy and moving along with me on the leash.  We first encounter the noise of flapping flags on a pole. He noticed them and he got fed for that. As we began to walk inside the mall, he suddenly balked. He began to pant, his body stiffened up, and he tried to rush to the entrance we just came in from. It was so sudden that it did not even give me the time to assess what got him concerned in the first place. Was it the slippery floor?  The window display with a gazillion items? A smell? The cars and traffic noise that he had experienced a minute ago?  Or all of the above?  I left the mall immediately and began to take stock as to what I should do the following day.

The next day, we went back to the mall with Rio as support (dogs in general and puppies in particular, take lots of cues from other dogs)  and the results were pretty much about the same.  Again, we aborted the mission and went home to give this young pup a much needed rest.

So, here is what I did for our third outing: I went to a location that was a bit more of a “country” setting, yet provided us with enough cars, a few bicycles and people to work with. This made all the difference. We were still outside but, he was exposed to mainly one kind of trigger: Traffic. The slower pace of the cars and the more predictable approach was much more manageable and I had more room to create distance between the cars and the puppy.

Just a few minutes into our socialization session, I noticed that the puppy was still aware of the cars driving by; yet, he was able to cope and began to sniff his surroundings. Good lad, I thought, good lad! I continued to pair the passing of cars (the noise and the actual movement) with tasty hotdogs. On occasion, I asked the puppy to sit as a car or a bicycle drove by, but mainly I was looking into creating positive associations with a stimulus regardless of what the puppy was doing.

I am mainly interested in changing the fearful association the puppy has for a lack of exposure with urban triggers, such as traffic and other noises, to a positive one.  My goal is to change how he feels about these things from being afraid and wanting to create distance from them, to either a neutral response as in: yeah there is a car going by and… wow, check out this smell here! Or even happy to see a car zoom by because he has learned that cars driving by, bicycles and the like mean that he gets a tasty treat - something he normally does not get to enjoy.

When socializing to any stimulus it is not only the exposure to the offending stimulus that matters, it’s how we go about it that is of utmost importance.

If the puppy (or adult dog) is already too concerned in the presence of the stimulus the association will not be a good one, no matter how many hotdogs we toss the dog’s way. By default, the experience must be one that is positive to the dog. Choosing the right location, as my example provides, as well as the amount of time, and distance, and if applicable, approach of the stimulus, will provide us with the tools to make the encounter   a positive learning experience. If we repeat this sort of situation plenty of times- which will depend on the severity of the negative association that the puppy or adult dog already has as well as  the age of the dog.

Now do keep in mind that when done well, we cannot over socialize a young puppy! I repeat:  When done well, we cannot over socialize a puppy as some people claim.

So please, if you choose to bring a young puppy into your life make sure you know that it will take lots, and lots of carefully orchestrated efforts in order to teach a young puppy that life can be grand and that there is nothing to be concerned about!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Mental stimulation can double as relationship-building.

Here is the second installment of our discussion on mental stimulation. As I mentioned previously, we can go beyond food dispensing toys to give our dogs a daily dosage of mental stimulation.
Some people get it right and understand the importance of a “sniff walk” for their dog. Indeed, for how we use sight to understand the world, our dogs smell it. Smell being their most reliable sense. By a “sniff walk” I mean taking your dog for a stroll where the distance covered is irrelevant in which we allow the dog to move at its own pace- taking as much time as he wants sniffing. This could be challenging for some folks because they do take their dog on a walk (yah!) but they have their own agenda. The walk must double as their fitness routine, so they just want to get it done fast. My advice to this bunch is to take their dog’s sniff walk as a bonus within their mental health.  To see this as an opportunity to experience the surroundings in Slow mo.  Wow!  What a concept!  We can also re-frame and think of our workout time as our workout time, aside from allowing it to be during the dog sniffing opportunities.


 In addition to the sniff or slow walk, there are other ways we can hang out with our dogs and provide a rich environment for their brain and well-being.  Here is an idea that I have witnessed to be very beneficial to dogs:  I teach owners how to do some simple TTouches on their dog as part of my Developing the Confident Dog class.

This past Saturday, every participant in the class saw how quickly their dog went from alert (and some a bit stressed) to totally relaxed, choosing to lie down on their mats to receive the benefits of their human’s touch. Engaging your dog with TTouch can teach your dog’s nervous system to oscillate from fidgety to relaxed. The more your dog experiences these different modalities, the easier it will be for your dog to recuperate from an upsetting event or just to be able to relax when you are busy at home and can't concentrate on your dog. TTouch is not a massage and is not petting either. It is its own modality that is relatively easy to learn and worth exploring. To learn more visit:

One of my favorite things to do with my dogs is to play with them! We have all sorts of games and most of them involve an object or toy. I am defining play as any activity in which participants engage voluntarily and the only purpose is to have fun.  The topic of play has been well researched and as a result there is ample information about what constitutes “good” play. Also, quite relevant is how can we play with our dogs in a manner that they find enjoyable and not threatening.  If play is your “thing”  look up the work of Marc Bekoff, - a leading authority in dog play and who has done tremendous work surrounding the emotional lives of animals.

I personally like it when my dogs invent their own games.  I mostly follow their lead when they come up with a new activity that we can do together. Here are a couple of examples:

After their breakfast both Deuce and Rio go to our long hallway just off the kitchen.  They both lie there with either one ball (more fun for Rio- perhaps less fun for Deuce) or a ball a piece.  The game consists of one of us kicking the ball so that Rio goes after it.  She gets tremendous pleasure in this. If Deuce was not that interested in balls I tend to wonder if Rio would enjoy the activity.  For this particular game, I changed some of Rio’s “rules” and I make sure Deuce has another ball to keep as his own, or we take turns tossing the ball in such a manner that Deuce gets it sometimes too- not only Rio. Being able to get to a ball that lands unpredictably is where the fun is at.

Deuce and I have our own special game that consists of Deuce taking my sheepherding cues (we actually do go sheepherding) inside our home as he “herds” a ball.  Not only is this game highly reinforcing for Deuce, but our herding practice with “real” sheep has improved tremendously.
I encourage you to be open to your dog’s definition of “games” and “fun”.  I promise you that you will also reap the benefits as you see your blood pressure drop and your breathing become more fluid. At least mine dose whenever I choose to play with my dogs.

In closing, I strongly suggest people think of mental stimulation as a dog’s ability to problem solve. Again, the activities that can promote this are truly amazing, but here I want to refer to one that is so accessible to anyone willing to invest in learning how to shape behavior with a clicker. In essence shaping behavior is teaching a behavior by approximation.  Think of it as a process similar (yet much more complex and interesting) than the popular game of “hot” and “cold” in which someone is getting clues as to the proximity of an object or a specific action it must do. To learn more visit:

If you live in the Santa Fe area, I encourage to enroll in one of my classes. Yes, your dog will learn new skills but equally important you will learn how to adequately teach your dog to problem solve. In addition, you will learn training skills and games that you can incorporate at home as part of your dog’s mental stimulation routine.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Why mental stimulation is so critical to your dog’s well-being.

If you are at all in the dog “circle” you have unmistakably heard about mental stimulation. What I think sometimes trainers, like myself, forget to do is to explain to people a couple of important factors about mental stimulation.

First off, I would like to define mental stimulation.

It is any activity that your dog enjoys, can engage in, and that in some way or another satiates an innate (natural) canine need. Now, we must dive into what constitutes innate behaviors in dogs. The most scientific way I know how to do this is to consider who dogs are:

We know that dogs are predators. They acquire their preferred food (or at least they did when they were hunting since most present day dogs do not hunt for their food) by chasing down their prey, and they eat it by dissecting it.  As hunters, they do not get a guaranteed meal either so we know that they are opportunistic feeders, as well as scavengers. There in itself, we have quite a few clues as to what sort of activities we might come up with that emulates  behaviors all dogs engage in when they are hunting after a prey or feeding.

In delving into it more closely, we discover that dogs, like any other predator, are highly interested in movement because movement might mean an opportunity to eat. We also now know that they have powerful canine molars to grind and teeth to shred meat apart. Another important clue!

So here are some activities that can supply your dog the opportunity of species-specific behaviors: if we add less predictability to how we feed our dogs, we might just hit the jackpot!

Simply put, instead of serving your dog its meal from a ceramic bowl, make that food come alive.
Toss your dog’s high-quality kibble or dry treats up in the air, without much restrain, so that it spreads everywhere. Encourage your dog the first few times to find each and every one of the individual pieces of kibble as it uses it’s very powerful sense of smell. If you are feeding raw, you will not be able to do this, so please do not try this at home.

Alternatively, you can flick away each piece of kibble down a hallway while creating some really interesting motion for your dog. Now your dog has to run after every single one of them. Does this activity resembles a natural way of feeding for your dog?  Think about it; it’s the same meal but different behaviors to acquire it: chasing to eat.

When it comes to dogs dissecting their protein for consumption, we can find a myriad of manners to feed our dogs so that they have to “work” with those powerful mouths for their food.

Replace then, the food bowl for a Kong filled with your dog’s daily chow, and not just a thin coat of peanut butter.  Now you got your dog’s attention!  It might take your dog 2 minutes or even longer to extract its daily food and that definitively beats spending only 30 seconds in one of the most salient activities of the day for most modern dogs:  consuming food.  If you choose to feed your dog in this manner, you will most likely need to serve more than one Kong.  Wow! The fun just doubled. I strongly suggest feeding your dog like this at least once a day.

You can also add some spin to how your dog gets its meal.  Some really clever food-dispensing toys require that the dog makes the toy spin in order for the kibble to come out. Remember how attractive movement is for our dogs? Again, if you feed raw, then find some acceptable non-raw item that could add some much needed entertainment to your dog’s day. It could be a boiled egg, sardines or perhaps your dog is into apples. I know of a very lucky dog that gets served daily an apple in a Kong.

While all dogs are predators and engage in one way or another in typical canine behaviors, each dog is also an individual. So spending a bit of time discovering which activities your dog enjoys will pay off. Some dogs might get scared if we attempt to throw up in the air a bunch of kibble, so perhaps for this type of dog, a much more low key toy or even tossing each piece of kibble gently (this does not take as long as you might think BTW) is more appropriate. Now, it goes without saying, not because our dogs are scavengers does it mean that we do not have to provide some guidance as to how to pull the food out of a food dispensing toy. So make sure to make things easy for your dog so that he is successful in getting the food out of the toy.  Keep him in the game!  Once he can do this with some effort but still gets to extract the food, make things a bit more challenging for your dog.

Of course, there are also games that provide both mental stimulation as well as physical opportunities for your dog, which don't always involve eating. I will be exploring some of these activities in future posts. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Managing dogs at the vet’s waiting area

Waiting areas at most veterinarian clinics are stressful places for both people and dogs. They tend to be on the small side and with little in the form of design to ensure dogs have some safe distance from other dogs.  The leash, acting as a barrier, prevents dogs to engage in natural greeting behaviors.  The fact that most people will allow their dog to approach other dogs while both are leashed can become  the “perfect storm” for over the top dog behavior towards other dogs.

Salient also is the fact that 99% of people will allow their dog to meet another strange dog head on.  This sort of approach to greet is consider a threat to dogs and very poor doggie manners. No wonder most dogs respond with a growl or a lunge when being greeted like this!  It’s their way to tell the other dog to back off and give them some space. Often, the greeting dog who just got “scolded” will respond in kind.  And around and around we go adding to the unpleasantness of dog greetings.

The sizes of the dogs meeting are also important to consider. While most dog bites are not too serious there can be ample repercussions from a dog  bite when size between the dogs is significant.  Not to mention the psychological damage an encounter like this can have on the receiving party. A true behavioral emergency when we are talking about a young dog or a puppy that has very little experience in meeting other dogs.  Often only one encounter like this can set that young inexperienced dog or puppy down the road of fearful behaviors displayed now in aggression as they encounter other dogs on leash or perhaps also when not leashed.

Helping and keeping your dog safe at the veterinarian’s clinic can be easy…
As part of this blog I made a video that show a protocol that I designed for one of my clients who has a very small dog which also loves greeting every dog at her vet’s waiting area. 

The protocol is very easy to do and requires very little training with big dividends in safety for your dog and the comfort of the other dogs in the waiting room. 

I would add that carrying some very tasty morsels whenever the dog goes to the clinic to be an excellent idea.  Delivering some tasty stuff can help your dog relax as he associates the scary environment with something he really likes.  Grant you, some dogs are so afraid that their digestion system shuts down making the use of treats futile.

Either way, if you practice the protocol in the video ahead of time with your dog, you will both find it easier to be successful when you are at the vet’s clinic with a room full of strange and also stressed out dogs.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Success with House Training Your Adult Dog

Shouldn’t an adult dog know where to go?
Ideally, yes. And dogs are naturally clean animals. Given a choice, they will go to the bathroom well away from where they sleep and eat. But it is not at all obvious to dogs that carpets and floors are inappropriate toilets—or that the bathroom rules in one place apply everywhere else.

Teach your new family member to distinguish between indoors and outdoors by getting her to go in a designated area and then rewarding her with treats and praise. With a little patience and supervision, your dog will soon be fully versed in toilet etiquette.

The 3 rules for house-training success.
Prevent Accidents.
Supervise your dog in the house.
Use a crate when you are not sure if your dog is empty.

Reward your dog for going outside.
Praise at the right moment, i.e. the second she starts ‘going’.
Reward with a treat after she is finished eliminating in the desired spot!

How to house-train.
Step 1. Take your dog outside on leash. Take her to the same place every time.
Step 2. When she goes, praise. Offer her a treat when she is finished.
Step 3. If you are in a dog-safe place, let her off the leash for a little playtime.
If she doesn’t go within 5 minutes, skip playtime and put her in her crate for 10-20 minutes, then try again. (This is to avoid an accident, not to punish.)

A house-training checklist.
  • Take your dog to her potty place first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, shortly after meals, naps, or play sessions, when she comes out of her crate and, in the case of a puppy, every hour or so.
  • Until your dog is perfectly house-trained, always go outside with her so you can cheer and reward at the right moment. (Over please)
  • Supervise whenever your dog is not crated, especially if she is full. If you must take your eyes off her, even for a minute, crate her or put her in her confinement area.
  • If you see your dog sniffing and turning in circles in the house, take her out immediately.
How to handle house-training mistakes.
Interrupt mistakes as they are happening. Don’t be too harsh or your dog will be afraid to go in front of you. After interrupting your dog, hustle her outside to the potty area. Praise if she finishes here. Clean up the indoor mess with an enzymatic cleaner to remove protein residue that might attract her to the same place again.

Never punish. If your dog made the mistake one hour or five seconds ago, you are too late. Don’t rub her nose in her own mess or smack her, this will simply make her afraid of you, and she won’t understand why you do it. You must catch her in the act for the interruption to work, and again, you can’t do it too harshly or your dog will be afraid to go in front of you.

When do I give my dog free run of the house?
At first, confine her to one room at a time. Choose a tiled room, like the kitchen or the bathroom, so accidents can be easily cleaned. Add a room each week as your dog is successful (accident-free), and supervise each time you introduce her to a new room (accident-free), and supervise each time you introduce to a new room (accident-free) until eventually your dog can have access to all the rooms in your home.

Training Tip: Don’t think that confinement and crating is too strict on your dog. You are doing her a big favor. Investing a few short weeks of effort nets you a lifetime of freedom for your dog—and you don’t have to replace your carpet.

Troubleshooting: If a house-trained dog suddenly has accidents, call your veterinarian. Your dog could have a bladder infection or another medical problem.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Separation Anxiety/Distress

Dogs that suffer from separation distress, also known as separation anxiety (SA), are coping the best they can. In their view, being left alone is a very scary proposition. One that makes them panic before the event (here is the anxiety piece) and during the event. It is difficult to know why dogs experience anxiety when alone, but one theory is that the dog has created a deep bond with a particular person or just has not learned how to self-sooth and cope with being alone.

Is it possible that your dog is just being mischievous, and he’d rather spend his alone time redecorating your home? Of course, it’s possible! But in order to ascertain what is going on with your dog, we must look at typical behaviors or symptoms that are present in dogs who suffer from SA. While every dog is an individual, and not all of the behaviors listed below will be always present, this trouble shooting list does give, in my opinion, a good roadmap to find out what is truly behind the dog’s behavior.

• Shadowing a person while at home. Unable to stay away from the company provided by a person.
• Exhibiting distress when they realize they might be left alone as they carefully observe departure cues. If there is something dogs do incredibly well is being observant of human behavior (even more so than any other primates!).
Besides keen observation, they are excellent at formulating some sort of “ flow chart” such as: when “x” takes place… “y” follows. They have learned the meaning of keys, running gear, folks brushing their teeth and kids’ lunches being prepared.
• Elimination.
• Excessive barking and or howling - intermittent or for the duration of the time being left alone.
• Pacing: intermittent or for the duration of the time being left alone.
• Excessive salivation.
• Intent to reconnect with person thus the dog tries to use points of exits or entries such as doors or windows, in the process they can hurt themselves very badly, and of course, create destruction of these points of entry/exit.
• Unable to “relax” or settle.
• Mutilation (please do not crate your dog if he is not comfortable in a crate already - play it safe.)
• Excessive or frantic greeting displays when reunited.

It is also possible that while in the past a dog was okay with being left alone, the dog is suddenly experiencing distress when alone because something really scary took place when the dog was home alone. Classical associations are very powerful. And just like us humans, a dog’s brain tends to have a bias for “scary” stuff. I once worked with a terrier mix that exhibited most of the typical symptoms of full-blown SA. As I was conducting the Initial Consult, I realized that there might also be some noise sensitivity behind’s the dog’s anxious behavior. Upon further questioning, my client and I were able to pinpoint a series of events – the loud trash collection every Tuesday as the antecedent for the dog’s now panicky behaviors. If indeed noise sensitivity is part of the reason the dog is now not comfortable being left alone, this too has to be taken into consideration and resolved in some way so that the dog does not continue to experience the fearful behaviors that lead to the anxiety in the first place.

Treatment of Separation Anxiety:
This is one of those instances where management will play a very part in the resolution of the case. By management I mean that the dog should not experience ANY anxiety as a result of being alone. Which, of course, means that the dog cannot be left home alone for the duration of the behavior modification program. A program like this will depend on a few factors but one most salient factor is how severe is the SA in the dog.

In addition to not leaving the dog alone at any time, the dog must be taught how to self-soothe when left alone. This will require that the dog in treatment learns first not to shadow its owner at home. If he is not able to be alone while the person is in the home what are the chances it can be left completely alone without going into a panic attack? None!

If one does a search on the web about how to treat SA, the person will find references to desensitization of departure cues. While this is another vital component of the program it is often wrongly thought of as a “stand alone” procedure.

Remember that first and foremost, the dog being treated should not experience panic while being treated. As such, one of the first skills the dog has to learn then is to get busy with a food puzzle or a chew bone, and at the same time, tolerate being alone (in another room say) while not completely alone in the home. No “real” departures should take place at this point. This is one of the areas where it’s easy to push too hard or too soon, and can only make things worse for the dog. Slow is really the only way to play this “game” with the dog being the one signaling that he is ready for more advance stuff.

As you can imagine, being able to keenly observe a dog’s body language and understand how to interpret it is an indispensable tool and skill anyone wanting to help a dog should have. This is the only way we can infer the dog’s emotional state.

Management: how to do it well:
As I previously stated, managing so that the dog is never left alone is one big chunk that needs to be resolved. Patience, and lots of it, empathy and resources will go a long way. It is important also to be creative in finding ways and support so that the dog is not alone at home. Below are some of the options folks should consider.

• Day care (if there is a reputable one near your home and your dog enjoys other dogs).
• Pet sitter or friend that stays at home with your dog when you cannot.
• Taking the dog to work (this is ideal and I sure do wish more business would allow this).
• The car: many dogs with SA do tolerate stays in the car better than at home stays because they have learned that these are usually short. Now here is an important caveat: You need to be super mindful of the weather. Dogs die every year because they were left in a car in hot temperatures. Here is a simple guide to help you ascertain if it’s okay for your dog to stay in the car. Dogs should never be left in a car with temperatures above 70 degrees, as the temperature in the car are always higher than 70 degree atmospheric temperature. This applies to having the windows open, it is still too hot to safely leave your pup in your car for any length of time. I would also recommend not leaving your dog in the car when temperatures are in the high 50’s and lower. Use a well-suited garage structure that will protect your pup from too much heat or cold. Ideally you check on your dog to give him an opportunity to stretch out.

In my professional experience, true cases of separation anxiety do not resolve on their own- that is without a careful intervention of behavior modification and desensitization. This can only take place once the dog has learned strategies for self-soothing and coping. This is a very gradual and detail-laden process. In a best-case scenario, pet parents with dogs suffering from SA will work with a reward-based trainer that has experience with SA.

Whatever you do, please know that your dog is really suffering and not being dominant, stubborn, stupid and destroying your home and encouraging your neighbors to sue you because of his constant barking to plot against you. They are truly in emotional distressed. Using any form of correction or aversives will only make things worse because using these will add to your dog’s overall anxiety in the form of: … here it comes, the smack! I will be yelled at and that scares me!
All dogs deserve that we look at a given situation from their canine perspective but especially so any dog that is suffering from an emotional issue such as fear (or aggression the other side of fear) or anxiety.

Do know that more and more qualified trainers who have experience with SA are helping folks and their dogs remotely. Here is a fantastic website that does just that.

In addition, I recommend the following book by Nicole Wilde: Don't Leave Me! Step-by-Step Help for Your Dog's Separation Anxiety. I suggest pet parents of dogs suffering from SA read this book so that they can better understand what is at stake.

While not always possible, ideally the pet parent should be working with a pro. SA can be solved, but it is not for the inexperienced even when a desire to help is very strong.