Anxiety: The biggest factor to behavior issues, the most reinforced behavior

If you have a dog with separation anxiety, a serious set of nervous behaviors, or tense/anxiety related aggression or frustration you've probably realized your dog is anxious. You've seen the destruction when you leave home, their explosive emotional behaviors, stressed/panicked reactions, and restless mannerisms.

What you may not realize is how deeply your day to day interaction with your dog is feeding that state of mind. If you follow my page, you are likely familar with the concept of leadership - and are trying to apply it - but your dog may not be perceiving your efforts in a way that changes behavior.

The best advice I can give anyone who is struggling with an dog who has anxiety is to go back to basics - make everyday a predictable routine, with lots of set boundaries, rules, guidance, and very little affection. This does not mean you won't pay attention to your dog - on the contrary, you will be very involved in every move he makes for a while, including structured walks, duration place command, designated playtime, designsted crate time when you are not home/overnight/randomly during the day, designated feeding times, and clear expectations of behavior (making sure your dog is not barking, growling, whining, jumping up, pacing the house, etc) through non-negotioable rules.

Anxiety develops in the uncertainty of life, the unpredictably, and the addiction to their owners/attention/dependency on constant closeness. A dog who is anxious is often given a lot of affection/accommodation by their family to make up for the dog's struggles, but in the end that constant softness (while much enjoyed by you and your dog) feeds their dependency. I know the concept of loving through leadership seems far fetched, but it is the best medicine for any troubled dog - without it, you may be unintentionally nurturing a super dependent, anxious, and unstable state of mind for your pup. 

Lack of leadership also leads to many other behavioral issues like an entitled, pushy, and demanding dog that almost always with a dash of anxiety to boot. Play a little hard to get, set clear boundaries, show your dog they can make it through uncomfortable things through with the help of structure and predictability, and you can try to stay out of an unhealthy relationship :)

P.S. There are definitely some dogs who can handle all the spoiling and freedom in the world without any behavioral issues or problems! However, most of the dogs we are asked to help, and most families who are struggling with their dog, are experiencing complications due to being a dog who is not super solid, and very vulnerable to the fallout of dependency and anxiety. When you mix a dog like that with a super accomidating and over affectionate environment, you can end up with a messy situation quickly!

seperation anxiety