There is a difference between a dog training problem and a dog behavioural issue!
One requires more instruction, repetition and reward where the other may need time, gradual desensitization and even medication. If you have a dog who is suffering with anxiety when left alone lets look at some of the major factors to consider. Initially, you need to determine if this is a confinement issue an isolation problem or even worse, both! We have to look at the triggers and levels of escalation. Is there destructiveness or self harm? Is there an underlying cause of the anxiety (medical) or has this been gradually building? Of course the age and length of time this has been occurring will have an overwhelming impact. All in all there is no quick fix. Sadly some dogs anxiety will have left the owner with few options. Accommodating the behaviour with dog sitters, lifestyle changes and in some cases creating their own crippling anxiety to leave the house. In the last two years we have collectively experienced such unique obstacles due to Covid-19. Everything from social disorders to weight gain! It only makes sense that it has also affected our beloved pets.
If your dog is comfortable in a crate he likely doesn’t have a confinement issue. Unless you’ve been using it only once a day for night time sleeping. Then you may have created a situational confinement issue. This can be easier to fix by using it more frequently and keeping it in a common part of the home. Give all treats and affection throughout the day so as to create a positive association beyond sleep or alone time.
A serious confinement issue means your dog has zero tolerance for being locked up, regardless of your presence. This is commonly being misdiagnosed as “separation anxiety disorder” which can simply be resolved by not locking him up. These dogs often demonstrate some of the best Houdini traits known to mankind! Sadly, if they were unable to escape they will self harm, panic and stress themselves into a puddle of drool. Now, before you go ahead and walk out that door, leaving your home unprotected you must be able to monitor him from afar. These days this can easily be done with a nanny cam and a cell phone. Test him numerous times for various lengths of time to ensure he is comfortable being alone in his home. That is before you “really” leave him alone in your home! If you believe you are dealing with a combination of both confinement and isolation issues it is best to find an experienced trainer specializing in behaviour. The sooner you start the better. In my years of working with dogs with varying levels of anxiety it is the complexity of home, lifestyle and genetics that play a major role. There is no proven one style, one method or one formula that can successfully “fix” every dog. Your trainer should know that and determine all the accumulating factors that are affecting your dogs emotional well being before they begin training.
An experienced trainer can recognize Sad vs Anxious