With the start of a new year comes the idea of new beginnings and new or renewed senses of hope, joy, and optimism. Many of us make resolutions — things we want to commit to or recommit to — or bucket lists of the things we want to make sure to do in the months ahead.
Having worked helping dogs (and their guardians) overcome separation anxiety for more than two decades, I know there is hope, and there has always been hope. At the same time, I know that hope is hard to hold on to at times when caring for a dog with separation anxiety, having cared for two dogs of my own who have struggled and overcome this issue. I have also worked with many hundreds of dogs to help them overcome it as well. I am as determined and committed as ever to ensure that each and every dog guardian feels supported in their own separation anxiety journey and to provide further hope and information to yield success with dogs’ alone-time comfort. Part of my efforts to achieve this is the release of a new and improved version of Mission POSSIBLE, our online, self-paced course for guardians of dogs suffering with separation anxiety.
The journey to overcome separation anxiety can feel isolating, and I wanted (and still want) any guardian to truly know they are not alone. This was one of the reasons for launching the original Mission POSSIBLE course. So, we designed the original course to include discussion boards where learners could ask questions and post comments; they could share their wins, no matter how small, and lean in for support when needed. Daily, since the launch of Mission POSSIBLE, my team of Certified Separation Anxiety Trainers (CSATs) and I have responded to and followed carefully all that these guardians have shared with us. We read, we listened, and now we are responding on a larger scale by introducing Mission POSSIBLE 2.0 — Unleashing New Hope for Separation Anxiety!
Back in 2017, I created Mission POSSIBLE to support guardians whose dogs were suffering with alone-time distress. One of the reasons I was so passionate about creating this course was because I wanted to make sure the right information to help dogs overcome separation anxiety was available to anyone who needed it, not just those working with a CSAT. Many prospective clients I spoke to had shared that they’d done a bit of research and landed on (and tried) all manner of ineffective treatments prior to our conversation (e.g., food toys, crates, leaving a t-shirt). They were frustrated, and I was frustrated for them. By the time I would speak with them, not only had their dogs made little if any progress in their comfort with alone time, but they also were struggling with feelings of guilt, had depleted their financial resources, and had limited remaining emotional bandwidth. I knew I needed and wanted to do more to help these guardians and the dogs they loved. Thus, Mission POSSIBLE was born.
While the original course was quite thorough, version 2.0 dives even deeper into the training process and contains quite a bit of new content. We’ve added in-depth material about the Initial Assessment process, identifying thresholds, and the daily training exercises (which we call “Missions” — hence the course name). We’ve included information about how and when to incorporate pre-departure cues, and many video and audio clips to help guide and develop an individualized protocol. Additionally, there are downloadable handouts to help guide you in your Mission creation and support you with tracking data about your dog and their needs. Like in the original course, Mission POSSIBLE 2.0 includes discussion boards, and, of course, my team and I will continue to read and respond to them daily. This new version of Mission POSSIBLE is truly the most robust educational tool available to help with separation anxiety.
In the seven years since I first created the original Mission POSSIBLE course, science and behavior modification have evolved, and separation anxiety has been the No. 1 most researched behavior issue in dogs. What I’ve learned from this new research and our 250 CSATs working with dogs and people worldwide has also informed this new course. While the new Mission POSSIBLE is not particularly citation heavy because I wanted it to be as accessible as possible to all learners, all of the content (and practical application of it) is heavily steeped in and informed by what the research is indicating as a means for a gentle, humane, and effective resolution for dogs suffering with this issue.
I am thrilled to be providing this course, and I want you to know that you are not alone as you work through it with your dog. Not only will you receive significant support from experts in separation anxiety, but you will also have the collective voices of guardians who are walking the same path as you.
This new beginning is one that I hope you will embrace with me so that you and your dog can return to living your best lives. I look forward to seeing you in Mission POSSIBLE, and I can’t wait for you to introduce yourself so we can guide and cheerlead you through your training.
To learn more about Mission POSSIBLE 2.0, click here.