Dog trainer Brandon McMillan reveals the best ways to calm an anxious pet

Dog trainer Brandon McMillan reveals the best ways to calm an anxious pet during quarantine and post pandemic.

Video Transcript


BRANDON MCMILLAN: This dog doesn't have just separation anxiety. This dog has straight anxiety.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on, hold on, hold on.

KYLIE MAR: Let's talk about the pandemic and how it is altering our dogs' behaviors. So are our dogs stressed out during the pandemic just like we are?

BRANDON MCMILLAN: Well I don't think the dogs are stressed out at all because they're sitting here, you know, on our couches all day and the fact that we're home basically 24/7. The dogs aren't the stressed ones. We're the stressed ones.

KYLIE MAR: I'm working from home until 2021, obviously, with Yahoo. And how do we keep our puppies and dogs occupied so that way they're not stressed out or that way they're not bored while we're working.

BRANDON MCMILLAN: Most, and I mean most, of your dogs behavioral issues comes from lack of exercise. Dogs, they need to run. They need to exercise a lot every day because they came from animals that roam far, far distances.

So if you don't exercise your animal, that right there could single-handedly be one of the biggest sources of their behavior issues. There's a lot of ways we can exercise our dog. If you can't-- if you don't have time to exercise your dog, I mean, the beauty of nowadays, we have-- now we have dog walkers. We have hikers that take them on hikes and dog parks, beaches if you live in California, like like you and I. One of the best ways to exercise a dog, one of the easiest ways too, if you have a friend with a dog or if you have another dog, let them play.

KYLIE MAR: So this is Aria. Aria was a foster fail for me. I fostered her. After one day, I was like, yep, I I'm adopting you because you're so mellow and chill. The one thing I can't get over-- I can't get her over is the separation anxiety.

BRANDON MCMILLAN: So this has been a big thing I've been talking about since the beginning of the pandemic because what's happening is we're giving our dogs literally almost a false sense of hope. Whenever we go back to work, which could be in the very near future, we're going to be gone for, you, six to eight hours a day, sometimes even longer. That's where the real separation anxiety can show its ugly face.

What I want you to do is stay home and put her in a crate in the same room. First we're going to put that dog in the crate while you're in the same room 15 minutes at a time. Do that three times a day assuming they're not screaming, take them out.

From there, we're going to repeat the process. But after a-- after maybe like a week of doing that, now we're going to put them in a different room. Still in the house, but it's going to be the same rules, 15 minute increments.

KYLIE MAR: And then after they are fine for 15 minutes in another room not screaming their head off, then what is the next move?

BRANDON MCMILLAN: Then we can start leaving the house.

KYLIE MAR: What kind of crate do you recommend? Do you like the wire crates? Or do you like the more covered plastic ones?

BRANDON MCMILLAN: I do use both. They both serve the same purpose. But it's all personal preference. Now, make sure inside that crate, there's a lot to do. Boredom is a big reason that dogs have separation anxiety. Lots of chew toys-- and I'm talking fun, interesting things.

KYLIE MAR: I have used the Kongs, different shapes and sizes. But is there one specific toy or brand that you specifically like for puzzles or food dispensing toys?

BRANDON MCMILLAN: You kind of hit the nail on the head. I like-- I do like Kongs because, number one, they're tougher than nails. Kongs are really tough to destroy. And number two, you can fit all kinds of things in there.

We've already got the toys in there. What else do we want to layer on? I like compression shirts. Compression shirts are great because it gives the dog a swaddling feeling. This is only if your dog is worse than like a three or four level.

Let's say your dog is more like five or six, now you want to start adding things. There is music boxes out there you can also add. We can add puzzles, you know, to keep their mind occupied. There's nothing 100%.

And every dog is different. There's there's hundreds of dog breeds and dog mixes, which means there's hundreds of personalities. And there's hundreds of reasons that these dogs can have separation anxiety.

So what works on one dog might not work on the next. But the old rule that I always say, the one technique fails, another one prevails. So that's why I say, don't just try one product and give up. Because if you try different ones, you might have more success. If you layer them altogether, I guarantee you you're going to have more success.