Are There Products You Can Buy To Help
Although training is the most effective method to reducing or extinguishing a dogs separation anxiety, there are many products that can help ease the process. Some of the most helpful products are those that are designed to keep the dogs time occupied while the owner is away. Some options are toys that dispense treats at random intervals, as well as treats that are time-consuming to chew. Stuffing a KONG toy with anything from frozen bananas to peanut butter is an effective way to occupy the dogs time. There are also sensory products available such as snug shirts to help comfort the dog while the owner is away.
If the anxiety is severe, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or veterinarian may recommend that the dog be given medication to help ease its symptoms. Anti-anxiety medication may even relieve the dogs symptoms without the need for additional behavioral therapy.
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Chewing Everything In Sight
“Chewing on objects, door frames, or window sills digging at doors or doorways or destroying household objects when left alone,” are all signs of anxiety, Dr. Richter says. This is your dog’s way of getting nervous energy out of her system.
But there are definitely better ways they can go about it. As Dr. Richter says, “Help alleviate their urge to gnaw by leaving them with a chew toy, bone, frozen Kong, or anything else they can hold and lick. Of course, make sure whatever you are leaving them is safe.”
Treating Anxiety In Dogs
Dog anxiety treatment generally falls into three categories. One is environmental management by removing items that create anxiety, providing a safe space to retreat to, and ensuring the dog doesn’t have to go to places it doesn’t like, a lot of anxiety can be reduced or soothed. Behavioral modification is another branch of treatment interrupting compulsive behaviors and re-training the dog to eliminate outside are two examples. Dog anxiety medication also helps in many cases. These can range from supplements that help calm the dog to medications that affect brain chemistry.
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How To Calm An Anxious Dog
It isnt always easy to identify pet stressors, but if Fido seems frightened, learn what options you have to help him overcome anxiety and depression.
Much like humans, dogs show anxiety in different ways and can be triggered by different factors. Separation anxiety and general fear commonly cause other behavioral issues in dogs. Knowing how to calm an anxious dog before it adopts dangerous, hyperactive or destructive habits is important, and understanding what puts dogs at ease is the first step to helping them be well.
How To Treat Minor Separation Anxiety
- Dont make a big deal out of arrivals and departurestalk to your dog in a calm voice when youre leaving or returning.
- Establish a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog youll be back.
- Consider using an over-the-counter calming product that reduces fearfulness in dogs.
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What Type Of Training Can Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
Some types of training that can help a dog with separation anxiety are:
Desensitization training. This type of training helps your dog to slowly get used to being away from you.
Counterconditioning training. This type of training helps your dog to associate being away from you with something positive, such as getting a treat.
Behavior modification training. This type of training helps your dog to learn new, positive behaviors that can help to reduce their anxiety.
Ruling Out Pain Or An Underlying Medical Condition
The symptoms of depression are commonly similar to those displayed in a dog suffering from an underlying medical condition or chronic pain. Sometimes these can even be triggers for depression.
Dr. Sinn always encourages owners to have their dog medically evaluated to rule out any medical problems. In general, if a dog is slowing down or is reluctant to engage, especially in the absence of some life-changing event, then I would bet huge amounts of money that it is medical or pain-related, she says.
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For More Serious Cases Of Separation Anxiety:
Youll need to help your dog get used to your absence through systematic dog separation anxiety training, also called desensitization or counter-conditioning. Please note, this training is complex and an experienced professional can help. Look for a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to help you with the training.
These steps briefly describe desensitization and counter-conditioning steps:
- Work on pre-departure cues. Your dog may see subtle cues that youre leaving and start getting anxious about being left alone. Teach your dog that when you pick up your keys or put on your coat it doesnt always mean youre leaving. You can practice exposing them to these cues in various orders several times a day without leaving.
- Move on to graduated departures and absences. Begin frequent and short separations behind a closed door and increase the time in small increments. As your dog is tolerating you being on the other side of the door, increase the amount of time youre gone. Remember, your return must be low-key. Gradually build up the time until you can leave the house for a few minutes. Then stay away for longer and longer periods of time.
You must proceed very gradually until your dog shows no signs of distress. At any point, if your actions produce an anxiety response in your dog, youve proceeded too fast.
What Causes Depression And Anxiety In Dogs
A major change or a distressing event in a dogs life can sometimes bring on symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
For example, the loss of its owner or a companion animal, or even a sense of grief being experienced by those around them, can all affect a dog’s overall emotions.
Big life changes, such as a move to a new house, a new baby or a new pet, may also have an impact on a dog’s emotions. Generally, any significant change to your dogs daily routine may bring on symptoms of depression or anxiety.
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Why Does My Dog Have Separation Anxiety
The root of most separation anxiety cases is fear. Fear of abandonment, fear of being left alone, fear of loud noises, whatever the case may be, it all leads back to fear. This can be caused by many things such as a traumatic event or change in routine.
It could also be due to genetics: some dogs are just more prone to separation anxiety than others. If you got your dog from a shelter, there’s a chance that they may have experienced some form of abuse or neglect in their previous home which could also be a contributing factor.
Change In Sleep Habits
A stressed dog can experience significant changes in his sleep pattern. He may sleep more often or have trouble sleeping. Since sleep is an essential part of your doggos routine, the change can be debilitating.
Excessive sleeping can lead to stiffness, obesity, and depression, while a lack of sleep can worsen anxiety. You should contact your vet if you notice your pooch suddenly sleeping too much or too little.
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Subtle Symptoms Of Anxiety In Dogs
Some of the less obvious symptoms of anxiety manifest as a slight change in behavior. These symptoms can go unnoticed by many pet owners. They include:
- Hiding or Loneliness Some dogs want to be alone when they experience anxiety. They may hide out of fear or stay away from people and other pets.
- They seek affection and protection: Other anxious dogs will have the opposite reaction and will seek more attention or affection. They may jump onto their owners laps or require more attention.
- Shivering and panting: Dogs that are shaking or panting, or acting generally nervous may be experiencing anxiety. While it is normal to pant after exercise, it probably will not be during a fireworks display.
- Excessive licking or chewing: Anxious dogs may compulsively lick or bite their fur or paws.Obvious symptoms of anxiety in dogs
Its hard to miss the most notable symptoms of anxiety in dogs. Depending on the cause, these behaviors can only appear normally caused by the phobia and insecurity of the animal:
Symptoms of anxiety, such as destruction of objects and excessive mismanaged energy, can lead to self-harm. The mental and physical stress that dogs endure when they suffer from anxiety is exhausting and must be dealt with as soon as possible.
If The Problem Is Mild
- Give your dog a special treat each time you leave . Only give them this treat when you’re gone, and take it away when you get home.
- Make your comings and goings low-key without a lot of greeting. Ignore your pup for the first few minutes after you get home.
- Leave some recently worn clothes out that smell like you.
- Consider giving your pet over-the-counter natural calming supplements.
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What Is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety refers to a condition in which dogs fear people or other animals and have a heightened stress response to sights and soundsparticularly in unfamiliar environments. Depending on the dog, the level of anxiety in a social setting can be mild or extreme. It can cause a dog to behave in ways that are not normally observed when it’s in a familiar environment.
Signs Your Dog Has Anxiety
Even though it seems like they shouldn’t have a care in the world, it’s still possible for your dog to have anxiety. Sure, their schedule consists of nothing more than sleeping, eating, and playing, so you’d think they’d be living the stress-free life. But even under the best circumstances, a dog can still struggle.
And, as it goes with anxiety, there are many possible reasons why this could be the case. “There is a genetic component to anxiety,” Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinary health expert at Rover, tells Bustle. “Just like some people are more anxious than others, so it is with dogs. In the case of dogs, the genetic tendency frequently is somewhat breed related, as well.”
Your dog’s past could also play a role, as well as their environment. “Dogs that have had trauma in their lives may be more prone to have problems with anxiety,” Dr. Richter says. ” high levels of noise or commotion in a dog’s environment may lead to greater anxiety.”
Some dogs also experience separation anxiety, which can cause them to feel panicked when you leave them alone. “Typically, separation anxiety refers to a dog that has formed a hyper-attachment to a single individual,” Dr. Richter says. “If that person isnt present, the dog goes into panic mode.” And they can act out as a result.
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Rescued From A Shelter
Animal shelters do amazing work for pets in our community every single day, but the reality is that a shelter can still be a stressful environment. Its a place filled with foreign smells, sounds, and sights. This can be an overwhelming situation for a dog, and lead them to cling to the human that rescues them from it all.
If The Problem Is More Serious
A dog with severe anxiety won’t be distracted by even the tastiest treats. You’ll need to slowly get them used to your absence.
They may start to get nervous when they see signs you’re about to leave, like putting on your shoes or picking up your keys. So do those things, but then don’t leave. Put on your shoes and then sit down at the table. Pick up your keys and watch TV. Do this over and over many times a day.
When your dog starts to feel less anxious about that, you can slowly start to disappear. First just go on the other side of the door. Ask your dog to stay, then close an inside door between you. Reappear after a few seconds. Slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone. Put on your shoes and pick up your keys. Ask your dog to stay while you go into another room.
As they get more used to the “stay game,” increase the amount of time you’re gone. Then use an outside door, but not the same one you go out every day. Make sure your dog is relaxed before you leave.
Only you can tell if your dog is ready to be left alone for longer periods. Don’t rush things. Give them a stuffed treat when you’ve built up to 10 seconds or so apart. Always act calm when you leave and when you return.
Gradually build up the time until you can leave the house for a few minutes. Then stay away for longer and longer periods.
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How To Stop A Dog From Chewing And Digging
- To be most effective, combine daily exercise, deterrent sprays, and stimulating toys. Even if the exercise doesnt tire out your dog enough for him to leave your valuables alone, the specific smell of the deterrent will stop them in their tracks! Additionally, having an interesting toy to keep them occupied cant hurt.
- Dog-proof your home or yard. Use a crate or a pet fence to keep them away from the places where they can make some damage.
- Puzzles, chew toys, and chewable treats will redirect your furballs destructive behavior to an appropriate victim. Stock up on the right supplies and your shoes, carpets, and sofas will be safe!
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What To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Treatment for Moderate to Severe Separation AnxietyModerate or severe cases of separation anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. In these cases, its crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.
The following steps briefly describe a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please keep in mind that this is a short, general explanation.
Step One: Predeparture CuesAs mentioned above, some dogs begin to feel anxious while their guardians get ready to leave. For example, a dog might start to pace, pant and whine when he notices his guardian applying makeup, putting on shoes and a coat, and then picking up a bag or car keys. Guardians of dogs who become upset during predeparture rituals are unable to leaveeven for just few secondswithout triggering their dogs extreme anxiety. Your dog may see telltale cues that youre leaving and get so anxious about being left alone that he cant control himself and forgets that youll come back.
Medications Might HelpAlways consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.
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What Is Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a condition where a dog becomes extremely stressed when they are separated from their guardian, other close humans, or sometimes even another pet. In a 2019 study of over 4,000 dogs published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 13 percent were reported to exhibit overt separation anxiety.
Dogs are inherently social animals, which is what makes them great pets and prone to separation anxiety, said Joanne Basinger, director of Andrea Arden Dog Training in New York City. “All dogs have the propensity to develop some sort of separation intolerance or separation anxiety, because they don’t want to be left alone,” she said. “A healthy well-balanced dog is going to prefer being with its people versus without.”
In a 2014 webinar presentation, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a renowned veterinary behaviorist and representative of the Humane Society, said separation anxiety stems from a combination of factors, but “by far and away, the most powerful force is environmental.” He goes on to say that just like babies, puppies need to be given lots of love and affection which makes them independent and secure as they grow up. This is why many dogs with separation anxiety tend to have a “shelter or stray background.
Reinforce Out Bounding Habits Before Leaving Home
Creating out bounding habits can help your pet be more relaxed for departure. They help your dog know that it isnt a bad thing when you leave. A good starting point is to have a trainer work with you to find a way to fill the dog’s physical, mental and emotional needs prior to you leaving the house. This can be done through rigorous exercise, mental stimulation through training , enrichment activities, and finally, specific training that conditions the dog to love seeing you get ready to leave because it means great things are about to happen.
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How Can You Help A Dog With Anxiety
The first thing to do is to ensure you can read the signs of anxiety in your dog and know the contexts in which they become anxious. Many dog owners find it helpful to keep a log or record of their dog’s anxious behaviors and what happened right before, during, and after those behaviors occur. With that context, here are some next steps: