Have a Puppy or Adult dog who struggles to be alone? Let's make the door a bore!
with Melissa Dallier of ACanineAffinity, Training Advocate
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**Does your dog bark or whine constantly, have accidents in the house, pace, drool or more while you are away?

**Neighbors complaining about the constant noise, making threats?

**Can you barely make it out the door without your dog trying to follow or dashing out in front of you?

**Did you bring home a puppy during the pandemic and just realize you haven't ever left them alone??


You are not alone! If you are concerned about your dog or puppy possibly having separation anxiety you need to take action NOW. Working with a specialist like myself will give you and your dog the best chance to success.


Separation anxiety in dogs is a panic condition affecting millions of dogs and the people who love them. Similar to extreme fears and phobias in humans, dogs who suffer from separation anxiety are often quite literally having panic attacks when left alone. They are in pain emotionally, they are afraid and most importantly their behavior is out of their control. Dogs who have separation anxiety can’t just “get over it”. If left untreated symptoms can and will usually worsen. Punishment often masks or worsens behaviors

To start, we want to make the door a little less scary. I promise if you practice the below, every day for 1-2 weeks you will see a difference in your dogs response to the door and you walking towards it. The below will not solve your dogs fears, that is a gradual process, but these are some of the common first steps I take with my clients.


**For this training to take place your dog needs to be able to see the door, if you are using confinement such as a crate, in a different room, reach out to me for modifications**


In between each step, take a short 30 second - 1 minute break, go about normal business etc. Don't ignore your dog, but try not to make a big deal about any behavior. Take note of behaviors or record sessions. Complete all steps at once, do not just walk to the door randomly throughout the day, that is not effective desensitization.


Training steps 1-4 are individual protocols. Each to be done individually, 1-2 times a day.


1 (Repeat for 1-3 days before moving on)


  • Walk to door, jiggle door handle, return to normal activities
  • Walk to door, do not touch door handle, return to normal activities
  • Walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities.
  • Walk to door, jiggle door handle, return to normal activities
  • Walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities.


After you've worked on the above for a few days, increase challenge slightly. Same rules apply, this is a short 10 minute training session


  • Walk to door, jiggle door handle, return to normal activities
  • Walk to door, do not touch door handle, return to normal activities
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities. Take shoes off.
  • Walk to door, jiggle door handle, return to normal activities
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities. Take shoes off.


If your dog responded well to the above, try this in the next day.

  • Walk to door, do not touch door handle, return to normal activities
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities. Take shoes off.
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, exit and close door, immediately return. Take shoes off. (if dog had any sort of panic response, go back to day 2)
  • Walk to door, jiggle door handle, return to normal activities
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities. Take shoes off.
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, exit and close door, immediately return. Take shoes off. (if dog had any sort of panic response, go back to day 2)


Finally, a bit more challenge. Remember we are working gradually. Adding in too much too soon is setting up for failure.


  • Walk to door, jiggle door handle, return to normal activities
  • Walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities.
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, exit and close door, immediately return. Take shoes off. (if dog had any sort of panic response, go back to day 3)
  • Walk to door, jiggle door handle, return to normal activities
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, open door just a crack (an inch or two) for a few seconds. Close door, return to normal activities. Take shoes off.
  • Put shoes on, walk to door, exit and close door, wait 2 seconds, return, take shoes off. (if dog had any sort of panic response, go back to day 3)


The goal of these exercises is to make the door boring with some added desensitization to your shoes. The goal is not adding in a lot of duration outside of the door, this is laying incredibly important groundwork for comfort being alone. Try this out for a week or so. Some days just the initial (#1) easy steps some days (#4) more challenging.


Keep me posted on progress and I'll add more ideas based on feedback!