Riley’s View: Dog Separation Anxiety


Hi Friends,

I wanted to share about a recent conversation I overheard between my dad, professional trainer Marc Elias, and his human companion about SA. Humans and their acronyms, it’s hard enough learning the English language let alone decoding an acronym. Anyhow I searched for SA on my humans company website and learned that SA is short for separation anxiety.

After reading the article, it occurred to me that I exhibit some of the behaviors of classic separation anxiety. In fact, my four legged friends Calli the German Shepherd and Phil the Cocker Spaniel down the hall from me also get upset when their owners are not within reach.

For the sake of Calli and Phil and all my furry friends alike, I thought I’d take time out of my nap schedule to help you and your dog regarding the issue of separation anxiety.

Well first, I recall mom and dad changing the location of where I sleep each night. A couple months ago I used to sleep beside the bed every night and sometimes on the bed. Now, I sleep outside the bedroom every other night with zero access to my humans bed.

separation anxiety

Apparently the more time I spend with my family the more my separation anxiety (or pack drive) is reinforced. Creating boundaries, as I understand it, teaches me to cope and have time alone. Mom sometimes pleads with dad to let me into the bedroom (I can hear it from the other-side of the door) but he doesn’t budge. A leader is a leader, rules are rules.

I don’t mind being outside my humans bedroom that much, especially since I get my favorite treats such as bully sticks, frozen packed Kongs and my favorite, this new dog puzzle I got from Nina Ottosson.

One way I know these recent changes have made a difference is during car trips with mom and dad. Usually when mom leaves the car I get panicky and anxious wondering why she is leaving, where she is going and when she’ll be back. Lately, I find I’m a little less concerned when mom leaves me. Be it in the car, or if dad and I walk with her in the morning then leave after seeing her walk up the big blue staircase towards that loud thing overhead on tracks.

I am middle aged Goldendoodle, I suppose it’s about time I learn to cope with being alone or not having my humans attention all the time. Something tells me I am going to have to get used to this. Mom says I’m going to be a big sister soon. Not sure but I think that swollen belly of hers means that there will be a new human in our pack soon.



Marc Elias, ABCDT is the CEO (Canine Executive Officer) of Pooch Pals, the New York-based pet training and care service. After six years of experience working for corporations, Marc sought a less traditional role aligned with his background in client services, operations and marketing, paired with his love of animals and helping people. Today, Marc Elias is the Canine Executive Officer of Pooch Pals LLC with a dog training certification from the Animal Behavior College. Marc and his Goldendoodle Riley are active pet therapy volunteers certified by the Good Dog Foundation. Pooch Pals is committed to positive reinforcement dog training. They believe in creating a positive culture in New York City’s pet community, and they welcome clients who are as passionate as they are about receiving personal service for their dogs including positive reinforcement training.

 photo source


Why does Max-E bark at our neighbor, and why does Sammy go crazy on walks?

Dear Louis and Sonya,

When we rescued our dog Max-E, he would growl at all men. He has gotten a lot better, but for some reason is really bothered by our neighbor — barking and growling at him — and he is so focused on him he won’t stop.

If anyone else comes up to the fence, I can whistle and he will come right in. I would just like to know what it is about this guy that bothers him so much?

Also, my dog Sammy gets a little crazy when we go for walks, and he sees another dog. I think he just wants to go up to them, but he gets so crazy that we get funny looks from the other person walking their dog. Occasionally, Sammy will take his frustration out on Max-E, and I have to break them apart, hoping I won’t get hurt by accident.

I would just like to know what they are going through or thinking when these things happen.

Thank You,


Dear Janet,

Max-E tells me he growls at all men.  And the man that lives next door reminds him of a man from the past that had been cruel to him.  He doesn’t like the sense of him, and he doesn’t like the look of him.  That’s why he reacts the way that he does. 

As for Sammy going a little crazy, he’s the Alpha dog and bossy!  And also, he is a little jealous of Max-E sometimes…

Always make sure that if you pet one, pet the other at the same time.  If you buy new collars make sure they both have the same.  Even if you speak to Max-E make sure at the same time you speak to Sammy.  And when you walk with the leashes, don’t switch them, always give them the same one. 

I have to admit, I do like your dogs.  They do love each other they tell me.  And don’t forget, people have disagreements too – they’re not the only ones! 

Love and Woof, Woof!


How can we stop Miles from being Leash-Aggressive?

Hi Louis and Sonya,

We have a 6-year-old yellow Lab named Miles. We rescued him from a horrible house when he was 1-year-old. He is such a great dog. We have 2 boys, and he is great with them.

Our only problem is that when we take him on a walk, and run into another dog, he gets very aggressive. He is 105 pounds and is hard to control.  He will jump, bark, growl and will bite anything close to him. We have to walk him with a muzzle on in order to keep ourselves and other dogs safe.

We have another dog, Georgia, and he will lash out at whatever is closest to him, even her — his buddy.

I want to understand why he does this, and what we can do to change this?  I have worked with several dog trainers and none of them have been able to help. I also volunteer for a dog rescue and we foster dogs. It makes it really hard to help other dogs when Miles has a lot of leash aggression issues. I have to do separate walks with the dogs.

He is such a sweet dog and would be the perfect boy if we could get his leash issues fixed.

Please, please help us.


Angie and Erik

Dear Angie and Erik,

How smart you are to walk Miles in a muzzle!  He loves his family very much, and he tells me he is the perfect family dog. 

You do, fortunately, know his background and how he suffered in the past.  Sometimes, the past is hard to shake no matter how much you are loved now.  I would advise you to continue to walk him alone, without the other dogs. 

I would also definitely get him a ThunderShirt.  This works with any anxiety or fear and really helps to calm dogs down.  When you fit this, make sure it hit hugs his body.  I have known this to work on dogs that have aggression.

I would also advise you to purchase some Rescue Remedy – it’s a natural product that helps to calm animals down and people too.  Give him a few drops orally, and then rub it on his head and his ears when he is aggressive.

Good luck!

Love and Woof, Woof!

Louis and Sonya