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Long before COVID pushed everyone online, separation anxiety dog trainers successfully resolved separation anxiety cases virtually through remote training. Online dog coaching continues to be the future of separation anxiety training programs.

One of the more common questions a potential client asks is, ‘Will you come to my home to help me?’. The short answer is ‘No.’ Separation anxiety training is done remotely using tools like Zoom or Skype; there are some good reasons for this. Technology has been a game-changer in the resolution of separation anxiety. Trainers used to have to stand outside with one ear pressed to the door, listening or subtlely trying to peek through the window without the dog seeing them – how things have changed! Pet cameras, streaming videos, and shared folders have fundamentally changed the way we work. This allows us to be more effective and responsive, thus achieving far greater resolution rates than previously thought possible.

If you are living with a dog suffering from separation anxiety, you will often need to reach out to someone specializing in this complex behaviour. Many trainers do not take on separation anxiety cases. Canine separation anxiety cases are notoriously difficult cases to resolve. The level of support your separation anxiety trainer will provide to you as the client far exceeds the support provided in almost any other form of dog training. Most specialist trainers started in general dog training and consciously pursued this specialty. Some end up here because they live with a separation anxiety dog. Others, like myself, chose this specialty to work exclusively with dogs suffering from fear and anxiety.

A certified separation anxiety trainer (CSAT) has studied under the foremost expert in treating separation anxiety – Malena De Martini. Through the CSAT training program, we have learned and been graded on our ability to accurately read canine body language remotely. We can guide you on camera placement to ensure nothing is missed. We will help you learn your dog’s body language so that you know what to look for when you are watching. As we work through the desensitization program together, and when you get to leave your house, you are equipped with the skills to monitor your dog remotely to ensure that they remain under their threshold. We are also well equipped to advise you when your veterinarian needs to be involved or if we need to seek the advice of a veterinarian behaviourist. If necessary, we can guide you through the behaviour modification training while behaviour medications are onboarded.

In the post-COVID world, most of us long to get back to in-person interactions. Your separation anxiety trainer, however, will be just where they always have been – online.

Here are the top 5 reasons why virtual separation anxiety training is the best approach to resolve your dog’s behaviour for you and your dog!

Online separation anxiety training eliminates the ‘trainer effect.’

The trainer effect is the magical transformation of your dog when the trainer walks through your door. There are good reasons why this transformation happens, but the bottom line is that it isn’t helpful when we are working with separation anxiety cases.

Guardians often get frustrated when their dogs behave so well when the trainer is present. The in-person trainer impacts the dog and the dynamic within the home. In contrast, when the trainer attends virtually, the dog is in tune with their environment and what their human is doing.

Observing the interaction remotely provides an unvarnished view of how the dog is progressing and what adjustments we need to make to the training plan.

Having an additional person in the home means the home environment is no longer normal. The dog will respond to this and act differently. If a trainer does offer to come to the home to work with you on separation anxiety, chances are they do not understand their impact and will be unlikely to be able to help you longer term. They will likely recommend food toys, keeping the dog off the bed, and other advice that doesn’t address the underlying problem. Your dog’s separation anxiety is fear-based and is a panic response to being left alone.

Online separation anxiety training allows for real-time responsiveness.

Today, I rarely have a client reach out who has not already watched their dog on camera.

Technology allows trainers and clients to meet virtually, quickly, and easily exchange and review videos of the dog and share training plans electronically. The trainer can use the video as an educational tool to help clients understand things like their dog’s body language. Most importantly, technology allows us to watch dogs remotely, getting immediate feedback about how they respond to a training plan.

Technology is a game-changer for resolving separation anxiety because it gives trainers a high level of access and allows us to be incredibly responsive.

While working remotely requires some basic equipment, for most people these days, you are good to go if you have a smartphone. While it is certainly helpful to have dedicated pet cameras that simplify the process, all we need to get started is a device with a camera and a WIFI connection. The device can be a phone, a tablet, or a laptop. Depending on your home’s configuration, it may be necessary to have more than one camera so that we can follow your dog as they move around your home.

Other than that, information is shared daily between the trainer and the client using shared tools such as google folders. The trainer is well-versed in these tools and can help you troubleshoot most glitches that crop up.

Online separation anxiety training means we can work with any dog.

In-person sessions must consider factors such as fear or aggression for the safety and comfort of the dog and the humans involved.

A trainer’s ability to address separation anxiety through online training does not rely on resolving other behaviour concerns first. We can begin working with the dog immediately because we don’t need to be concerned that the dog will see our presence as a threat. This means the anxious dog or the dog not fond of new people can get the same help and support as the happy-go-lucky social dog. Your dog remains relaxed and comfortable in their everyday environment. Guardians are also happier and more relaxed, not needing to worry about how their dog will react, making online training a big win for everyone.

Online separation anxiety training can happen anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live.

I have touched on this already, but it bears repeating. Technology has bridged the distances allowing me to work with clients from all over. It doesn’t matter where you live; whether you have dozens of trainers nearby or none for a hundred miles, you can work with a trainer who has chosen to specialize in this complex dog behaviour. This means you can easily access a trainer whose specialty is separation anxiety to help you overcome your dog’s anxiety.

In addition, as a trainer, I can easily access my colleagues from all over if I need to troubleshoot a case. I’m not limited to colleagues in my immediate location.

Online separation anxiety training gives you the benefit of flexible scheduling.

When you work with a trainer virtually, training plans are customized for your situation and provided to you electronically. It doesn’t matter if you work from home or work the night shift, have a crazy busy family, or live alone. Your trainer can accommodate your schedule. Updated training plans are delivered to you online every day. You train when it is convenient for you.

Online training lets trainers check in more regularly, be more responsive and finetune their training plan more quickly. This enables your dog to progress faster. Quick check-ins via a messaging tool keep the training engine humming along. And the best thing, no need to tidy your home or change out of your comfy clothes. The more normal you are, the better for the training process.

Is there a downside to training for separation anxiety online?

Well, to me, as a trainer, maybe one. I love nothing more than getting my hands on your dog and having a good ‘ole ruffle. But I am happy to give that up for the reward of watching your dog successfully be home alone and happy while you go out and about, getting on with your life.


If you are unsure if your dog has separation anxiety, read my blog Common Signs of Separation Anxiety.

This blog post has been reproduced from one written by Hanging With Hounds for the BC SPCA AnimalKind journal – Kind Corner: Top 5 reasons to choose online separation anxiety training.


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