Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dog separation anxiety occurs when a dog has a strong, over-attachment to their owners. About 10% of puppies and dogs will be diagnosed with dog separation anxiety. Although it is not exactly known why dogs may be affected by separation anxiety, we do know that it can be a very a very stressful and emotional condition to deal with.
Most dogs will be upset when their owner leaves the home, but only dogs with separation anxiety will cause a problem. Even before your leave the house, your dog may start to show signs of anxiety. These signs include following you around the house, blocking the door as you try to leave, or eliminating on the ﬂoor to get attention.
Many owners cannot deal with the stress of dealing with a dog with separation anxiety. Unfortunately, a large number of dogs are sent to shelters and even euthanized because their owners do not want to deal with them anymore. However, separation anxiety may be treated with hard work and dedication.
Causes Of Separation Anxiety
Some causes of dog separation anxiety may never be known. However, some of the more common reasons for separation anxiety include the following:
- A change in environment, including moving to a new home, a new addition to the family, or a loss of a favorite family member.
- Puppies who have been separated from their mothers at a very early age.
- A traumatic experience, similar to abuse but not as extreme. These may include a car accident, ﬁre, or even a thunderstorm or ﬁreworks.
- Although these reasons may not be directly related to separation anxiety, they may very easily trigger anxiety in your dog.
Training Tips For Separation Anxiety
The most important part of treating separation anxiety is training. Although it may take some time before your dog may start to calm down, the bond between you and your dog will become stronger and he will likely trust you more because of your dedication and leadership.
Conﬁned rooms - This can be a little tricky to do because some owners ﬁnd it helps, where as others ﬁnd it makes anxiety worse. Keep your dog in a speciﬁc room of your house. Make sure that this area is not easily destroyable, and that it is ﬁlled with someof your dogʼs favorite things. Keeping an item in the room that smells like you may also ease anxiety when he is to be kept in this room. The more inviting it is, the less likely he is to associate this room with punishment.
Stay in the room with your dog for awhile. Play with him and let him know that this is a good room, not a negative place to be. Leave the room without making any announcement. Return a few minutes later with a little bit of praise and give him a treat. Continue this for a few days, but stay out of the room longer each time you leave.
Crating - Use the same technique as the conﬁned room. Crating should only be used for a limited amount of time, as the area is likely small and he will not be able to relieve himself in that area.
Leaving the home - Your dog will be able to tell when you are about to leave him simply by your actions. Things like picking up your keys or putting on a jacket may trigger anxiety right away. To ease anxiety before you leave, practice desensitizing your dog to these speciﬁc situations. Watch your dog to ﬁnd out what triggers his anxiety. Then, repeat these actions without leaving. Be sure to give your dog lots of praise and some treats when he responds well to these actions.
Returning to the home - If your dog is out of control when you return home, it is important to ignore him. You want to make both your depart and return as low-key as possible. Continue to ignore your dog until he calms down and you are ready. You should give him praise once he is calm. 10 minutes of ignoring your dog before you leave and when you return will help to ease his anxiety.
Exercise - Exercise your dog before you leave and after you come home. This helps if you have a high anxiety dog because he has a chance to blow off some steam. Your dog may also have less energy to destroy the house and cause self harm if he is tired from exercise. A sleeping dog is a calm one.
Activities - Give your dog something to do while you are gone. If your dog is distracted, he is less likely to cause destruction around the house. Provide your dog with dental bones, chew toys or Kongs willed with treats to work on while you are away.