How To Cope While Your Dog Learns To Be Calm
It can take time for your dog to unlearn their panic response to your departures. To help you and your dog cope in the short term, consider the following interim solutions:
- Ask your veterinarian about drug therapy to reduce your dogs overall anxiety.
- If your dog enjoys the company of other dogs, take your dog to a well-run doggie daycare facility or kennel when you have to be away.
- Leave your dog with a friend, family member or neighbor when youre away.
- Take your dog to work with you, if possible.
Make The Crate A Positive Space
Your puppys crate should be their absolute favorite spot . And there are plenty of ways to inspire your dog to love their den. First, make sure its a comfortable place for them to be, with a crate-sized pad to lie on. Blankets or clothing that smells like you can help them feel secure in there, too.
Another sure-fire method: Reward your puppy for going inside the crate! When you catch them hanging out in there, shower them with tasty treats or their favorite toys. Treat-dispensing toys and safe chew toys are ideal for distracting puppies from the fact that theyre alone.
Dont Skip Regular Exercise
Remember this golden rule a tired puppy is far less likely to show signs of separation anxiety, as he would rather sleep instead of making trouble.
Be sure to take him for a brisk walk before you go out, and consider incorporation mental exercises and puzzle toys. These will also help your pup build patience, self-control, and focus.
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Make Sure To Leave Your Dog Behind Feeling Satisfied
When you’re leaving your dog alone, it is essential to leave it behind feeling deeply content, to make sure that it is tired and that it will sleep through a large part of your absence. This is a lot more pleasant for your dog, and it reduces the risk of negative behavior occurring, such as biting, barking, or squealing.
Most problems are caused either by overexcitement and lack of sleep or by a lack of activity, giving the puppy nothing to spend its energy on.
Here is a very common situation: you are already late for an appointment, and you still need to walk the dog. You put the leash on in a hurry and take the dog to the nearest patch of grass located a hundred feet from your home. You allow the dog to pee and quickly return home. Then, you get in the car and drive off, to return five hours later.
This will definitely not leave your dog feeling satisfied.
Leave A ‘special’ Toy
As well as making sure that your dog has exciting things to do when you’re with them, make sure you also give your dog a mentally stimulating toy, such as a stuffed ‘kong’, a meat-flavoured chew or a treat ball or cube. Make sure that this is a ‘special’ toy that they only get when you’re not there. Remember to put away this toy when you return and also to take any food treats out of your pet’s daily food allowance to avoid overfeeding.
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What Causes Separation Anxiety
It’s not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others don’t. But remember, your dog’s behaviors are part of a panic response. Your dog isn’t trying to punish you! They just want you to come home!
These are some of the scenarios that can trigger separation anxiety:
- Being left alone for the first time.
- Being left alone when accustomed to constant human contact.
- Suffering a traumatic event, such as time away from you in a boarding kennel.
- Change in the family’s routine or structure, or the loss of a family member or other pet.
Why Does My Puppy Look Guilty When I Come Home
When puppies and dogs sense that their owners are upset with them, they may look guilty.
- Their ears may go flat
- Their body may be lowered
- Their tail may go between their legs
- Some will look away, narrowing their eyes, as if they are cringing
This behaviour is called appeasement behaviour. It is often misinterpreted as guilt and, mistakenly, some owners believe their puppy knows what they have done is wrong. Owners may feel that any damage caused or toileting in the house has been done on purpose or out of spite for being left alone, which isn’t the case.
Puppies or dogs that look guilty are doing nothing more than responding to an owners disappointment, upset or anger, and this is their way of easing tension in response to feeling threatened or concerned.
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Should A Dog Sleep In A Crate
Dog crates The most obvious benefit of having your dog sleep in a crate is that you wont have to worry about what will happen if he stirs in the middle of the night. If your dog has a tendency to cause some trouble when youre not around, a dog crate will keep him contained while he dreams of treats.
Shop For Anxiety Treatment Pet Supplies
Get a KONG toy which will entertain your pup by engaging them to work for a treat. A dog swaddling jacket can also help ease your pups anxiety by applying constant gentle pressure to their body. Another helpful dog-interactive toy is the Petcube Bites 2, which allows you to fling treats to your dog. Check out other anxiety treatment pet supplies.
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Change Your Going Away Signals
Use a different door, put your coat on but dont leave for 15 minutes, leave your keys/purse/shoes in a different location. The goal is to break your dogs association of these actions with your departure and not let them trigger separation anxiety. When you leave, give your dog a treat or a toy to play with to distract them. Calming treats for dogs can be used as a short-term remedy for separation anxiety. They will also teach your pooch that being alone is not scary and create positive associations with your departure.
Practice Leaving And Returning
You should make it a habit to leave the house for 30 seconds a couple of times a day, while ignoring your puppys reaction. The point is to get him used to you being gone, while you can still monitor the situation from outside.
Keep on doing it until your pup is less nervous when you walk out the door. Then, gradually increase the time that hes expected to stay alone quietly.
This way, you can also determine the intensity of his reaction, so you know the amount of anxiety youre dealing with.
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Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety might learn their persons predeparture cueslike putting on a certain uniform, making lunch or organizing a briefcaseand begin to exhibit stress responses before their person even leaves.
Once the dog is alone, they might exhibit any or all of the following hallmarks of separation anxiety:
Pacing: Dogs that are panicked by their persons departure might be unable to settle down and might resort to walking back and forth repeatedly.
Vocalization: Barking and howling are common canine responses to isolation, but dogs with separation anxiety might continue vocalizing the entire time theyre alone.
Loss of appetite: Separation anxiety can cause even the most food-motivated dog to ignore treats and bones.
Destruction: Many dogs suffering from separation anxiety destroy small household itemslike the remote control or pillowsor resort to large-scale destruction, like tearing through furniture, walls, doors or windows.
Elimination: Dogs that are house-trained might have accidents while alone, including diarrhea.
Drooling: Some stressed dogs drool excessively and wind up with a soaked chin and chest.
Escape: Dogs with severe separation anxiety might be able to escape confinement, which can result in injuries.
Start With Short Absence
Go for maybe 5 minutes of absence from your puppy and if he remains calm and quiet, reward and praise him when you are back with him.
Its likely that during the initial training stage, you may find him keep looking around the room searching for you.
That is okay, as it takes time for him to adjust to your absence.
Continue with the training and, once he is adjusted well, you can increase the absence duration.
Slowing increases the timing to 30 minutes or an hour or so and repeats the reward process. If he starts to growl or cry, wait till he has calmed down and go back to him to reward him.
To facilitate this training, you can also give him some toys to let him engage his attention with the playing. The idea is to make your puppy see that you will be back and there is nothing to be worried about.
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Training In The House
There’s lots of training you can do to help your dog adjust to being left on their own. Try to keep training light touch and do it randomly during the day.
If you find that your puppy struggles with this, you can make it easier for them by staying in the room with them, but its important that you dont interact with them just sit there quietly. Once they are used to the idea of being in the room with you, but not interacting with you, you can start shutting the stair gate for a few minutes and begin on the training above.
Can Separation Anxiety Hurt A Dog
Many symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs are more annoying than harmful. On the other hand, dogs suffering from severe separation anxiety can seriously harm themselves. Additionally, regular stress can affect your pups overall health. Regardless if your dog experiences mild or severe separation anxiety, you should work on the issue to improve your dogs and your own quality of life.
In conclusion, although a common issue in dogs, separation anxiety can become a big problem when left unattended. We hope this article helped you understand this condition many dogs struggle with, recognize the symptoms, and take appropriate steps to make the experience less stressful for your furry companion.
To learn more about this topic, check our all our articles on training and behavior.
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Preventing Separation Anxiety When You Work From Home
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If you have a dog, working from home is the best! You dont have to worry about finding someone to walk your dog, you have excuses to take breaks throughout the day, and you get to work with the best coworker!
But, are you giving your dog enough time alone?
Dog owners who work from home or are retired and home most of the time are faced with dogs who can become used to constant companionship. These dogs can have a tough time being left alone for any time at all, and if the owners schedule or lifestyle changes and they are no longer present all of the time, these dogs can have a very tough time adjusting.
If your dog never gets used to spending time alone or learning how to entertain themselves, they can start to develop .
Physical Comfort For Distressed Dogs
You may be able to prevent separation anxiety by providing physical comfort, such as:
- Clothes or a blanket that smell like a beloved family member.
- A place to burrow, like a pile of blankets.
- A weighted coat or weighted dog blanket to simulate being snuggled.
You also want to ensure all basic needs are met, such as plenty of water and access to shelter.
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How To Treat And Prevent Puppy Separation Anxiety
Puppy separation anxietyits a phrase that can be as stressful for dog parents as the condition is for their pups. Hey, no one wants their sweet little dog feeling scared or stressed. But heres the good news: Theres plenty you can do to avoid separation anxiety in your puppy, and even more you can do to treat the condition.
We talked to Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, a veterinarian consultant in Fort Collins, Colorado and Atlanta-based dog trainer and author Victoria Schade to bring you their top tips on soothing an anxious puppyso you can go about your day knowing your pup is safe and happy at home.
Why Does My Dog Have Separation Anxiety
Pain and underlying medical reasons may cause your dog to feel worried about being on their own so you should always get them checked over by a vet if theyre struggling with apparent separation anxiety.
Once youve had your dog checked by a vet and theres no medical cause, then an accredited behaviourist will be best placed to help if your vet feels that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
Other things that can cause or contribute to separation anxiety include:
- Poor socialisation as a puppy
- Your dog isnt used to being left alone
- There has been a change in your household
- Something has scared your dog
- A routine change, bereavement or other circumstances meaning a person or pet who they normally spend time with isnt around.
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