Know The Signs Of Separation Anxiety
To better understand what youre dealing with, its important to know the most common signs of separation anxiety in dogs. These include:
- Constant barking, whining or scratching at the door when you leave
- Destructive behavior when left alone for long periods of time
- Extremely anxious behavior when you leave the house for work or other reasons
Home Alone Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs, like us are very social animals. They would naturally live in family groups and have evolved alongside humans over thousands of years to work with us and live as our companions. Most dogs would choose to spend the majority of their time in our company. Some might actually prefer the company of their own kind, but what is certain, is that being alone just doesnt come naturally for most.
Although dogs should never be left for too long on their own, if they get used to being left for short periods when young, they are likely to grow up feeling relaxed and comfortable when left on their own for some part of the day.
How Other Pet Parents Are Planning Ahead
Its clear that many pet parents are thinking about how theyll ease the transition for their dogs when they get back into the office and leave the house for longer stretches of time.
In anticipation of going back to work and/or traveling, the majority of dog owners said theyve already started to take measures to prevent separation anxiety and 94% of pet parents said theyve done their own research and/or talked to their vet about separation anxiety in dogsfrom getting a pet camera to hiring a dog walker.
These are both great ideas to help monitor your pups behavior, but prevention is key to making sure your dog is calm on that pet camera video feed rather than anxious or upset.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Chest Tightness From Anxiety
Leave A ‘special’ Toy
Always make sure that your dog has exciting things to do when you’re not with them. You can give your dog a long-lasting chew such as a stuffed ‘kong’ toy, a meat-flavoured chew or a treat ball when you plan to go out.
Make sure that they enjoy using it when you’re there. If your dog then doesn’t use it when you’re away, this may be a sign that your dog is worried when you’re out.
Top tip: Remember to take any food treats out of your pet’s daily food allowance to avoid overfeeding.
Why Are Some Dogs Unsettled When Left Alone
There are many reasons why a dog may develop problems when home alone these are the most common:
- The dog has never been left alone in the home regularly or separated from a particular person
- There is something that the dog is scared of or worried by either inside the house or outside. This could be something that happens on a daily basis or something that happened only once . Dogs tend to feel much more vulnerable when they are on their own, so it is easy for them to develop specific fears, especially those who have a sensitive or nervous nature.
- An animal companion dies. Normally this would be another dog who shared a close bond with the dog who is left behind, but strong attachments can also be made with other species too, like cats.
- Boredom. Typically this affects young, energetic dogs who struggle when left to their own devices. If left alone for too long these dogs may find their own entertainment, such as chewing table legs or raiding the rubbish bins.
Dogs who have been in rescue or have been rehomed several times can sometimes struggle with being left, especially in the first few weeks of being rehomed. This is probably due to a variety of factors, including the stresses experienced while in kennels and learning to adapt to a new home.
Recommended Reading: How Can I Help My Daughter With Anxiety And Depression
Where Can I Get Professional Help
If your dog does go on to display ongoing signs of separation anxiety, it is important not to ignore these and to contact your vet who can refer you to an accredited behaviourist. Theyll be able to fully assess your dog to find out why they dont cope with being left alone and come up with a treatment plan to help. How separation problems are treated will be individual to each dog, so it is important to seek professional advice to help guide you through the problem.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Anxiety During Sex
Signs And Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
To help your dog with separation anxiety, you must first be able to identify the signs and symptoms. Dog separation anxiety can manifest in different ways, so its important that you know what to look for.
Some dogs show signs of separation anxiety when their owners prepare to leave them. A dog can easily pick up on signs that its owner is about to depart, whether that be them picking up their car keys or putting on their shoes. These kinds of actions may easily trigger a dog to start acting out, in efforts to prevent their owner from leaving. Then, once the owner comes home, the dog acts overly excited, like its been years since theyve seen them.
If youve experienced the above scenario with your dog, they may suffer from some form of separation anxiety.
These are some other key telltale signs that indicate your dog might be experiencing anxiety:
Its important to note that a dog with separation anxiety will only exhibit these symptoms when theyre left alone. If your dog does any of the above when theyre in your presence, it may be an indication of something else. Certain medical problems and medications can cause some of these symptoms, so be sure to consult with your veterinarian if you see your dog exhibit any of these symptoms in excess when youre in their presence.
Don’t Miss: Can Anxiety Cause Weight Loss
Medication For Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Before giving your dog medication for any kind of behavioral problem you should consult with a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist.
In severe cases of separation anxiety, some dogs are so distraught that treatment cannot be implemented without the aid of medication. With the help of anti-anxiety medications, many dogs will be able to handle short periods of isolation without experiencing any anxiety. This can also accelerate the separation anxiety treatment progress.
Over time your dog should become accustomed to being left at home alone with the help of the drug and behavioral treatment. When you believe the time is right, you can begin to wean your dog off of the anti-anxiety medication. You should continue the behavior training until you believe your dog no longer suffers from separation anxiety.
Create A Safe Place For Your Dog
- Create A Safe Place For Your Dog.
- Creating a safe place for your dog is one of the best ways to help manage separation anxiety. There are many different options for creating a safe place, including the following:
- The first option is to create a designated area inside your home or apartment where you can keep your dog when you leave him alone. The room should have few distractions and be free from any furniture that may pose a danger if chewed on. It will also need to have access to fresh water at all times as well as food that has not been chewed on yet . This space should also have hard flooring so that if he does happen to get upset while in there , it would be easy for him not fall over or injure himself in any way..
- Another option would be using outdoor kennels instead of indoor ones however, this can only work if you live somewhere warm enough year-round without having too much snowfall or extreme temperatures during winter months.. Youll also need plenty of space outside so he doesnt feel cramped up once inside his kennel..
You May Like: Why Do People Get Anxiety Attacks
Stuff You Can Use For Sound Masking:
- Radio stations like Radio 4 or Classic FM are rather good, or you could go for hours long Youtube playlists specifically made for dog relaxation just dont play the same thing all the time no one needs an earworm!
- Noise machines are wonderful things to help mask outside noises. They can usually play a variety of colours of noise to suit the dog such as:
- White Noise: Has equal frequencies across the range
- Pink Noise: Works on lower frequencies and often sounds like steady rainfall or wind.
- Brown Noise: Even lower frequency range than pink noise, and sounds rougher, like a river roaring or a strong wind
They all sound like good options, dont they?
What Is Dog Separation Anxiety
is a stress response that a dog exhibits when the person that the dog is bonded to is away from home.
Tina Flores, KPA-CTP, CSAT, certified separation anxiety trainer explains, When a dog is experiencing separation anxiety, it is quite similar to a panic attack in a human. A human, for example, with a fear of heights who is placed on top of a tall building might exhibit sweaty palms, dry mouth and fast heart rate. In the same way, every time a dog who has separation anxiety is left alone, their bodies are flooded with the same stress hormones.
The dogs reactions can range from mild distress, like pacing and whining, to extreme anxiety, resulting in dogs that injure themselves when attempting to escape confinement.
While there is no single reason why some dogs develop this challenging response to being left alone, for many dogs, its related to a traumatic event or an environmental change that they found upsetting. Examples include:
Changes in the family dynamic
Changes in lifestyle
Changes in routine
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Suffer From Anxiety
When I Need To Leave What Can I Do Immediately To Prevent Damage
This is an extremely difficult question. The goal of treatment is to reduce your dogâs level of anxiety by training her to feel comfortable in your absence. This can be a long process.
“Most owners will need to deal with the damage or vocalization immediately.”
Yet, most owners will need to deal with the damage or vocalization immediately. During initial retraining it may be best to hire a dog sitter, take your dog to work, find a friend to care for your dog for the day, board her for the day, or arrange to take some time off from work during retraining. Crate training or dog proofing techniques may work for those dogs that already have an area where they are used to being confined. For dogs with separation anxiety, crates should be used with caution because they can promote intense escape attempts and may result in fairly serious injuries. It is important to choose a room or area that does not further increase your dog’s anxiety. Your dog’s bedroom or feeding area may therefore be most practical. Booby traps might also be used to keep the dog away from potential problem areas. For vocalization, anti-anxiety drugs and pheromones may also be useful for short-term use, until the owner has effectively corrected the problem.
Consult Your Vet A Trainer And/or An Animal Behaviourist
First, you should confirm the behavioural problems are being caused by separation anxiety. A professional can help. For many dogs, trainer intervention is necessary to ensure the dog is not feeling undue stress. We are trained experts in dog body language and can often pick up on subtle changes in behavior that the owner cannot. This helps to pinpoint exactly when the stress starts and what is the initial trigger.
To find the best professional to help your best friend, Mueller gives you a great tip: The sign of a good trainer is someone who makes your dog’s emotional well-being and physical safety their top priority, this is especially important when you are dealing with behaviors rooted in anxiety and possibly fear.
Recommended Reading: How To Quickly Stop An Anxiety Attack
Trainer Vs Behaviorist: Whats The Difference
A trainer is typically a non-medical person certified in dog behavior and training. In-home trainers that make house calls are often the best to utilize, since they provide the best one-on-one guidance with family members, and they can examine the home environment to make suggestions for modifying the home set-up that may help.
Trainers cannot prescribe medications, but a good trainer will know if adding one may help make training sessions more successful. Because of how interactive trainers are in coming to the home and helping you set up the most successful environment possible, they are usually my first go-to, especially for more difficult cases of separation anxiety.
A veterinary behaviorist on the other hand, is a veterinarian who has completed advanced residency training in animal behavior and is board-certified as a specialist in the field. Veterinary behaviorists are invaluable for advanced cases of fear and separation anxiety, especially when a balance of behavior modification techniques and medication are needed.
In most cases, appointments with behaviorists will be at their office, the same as with most doctor visits. Behaviorists will collect a very thorough history of whats been happening and what techniques have been tried so far. They will then perform an exam and discuss a plan of techniques to work on at home, along with any medication recommendations if needed.
How To Treat It
First, talk to your vet to rule out any medical problems. Sometimes dogs have accidents in the house because of infections or hormone problems or other health conditions. It also could be due to incomplete housebreaking. And some medications can cause accidents. If your dog takes any drugs, ask your vet if they are to blame.
Don’t Miss: Will Cialis Help With Performance Anxiety
Potential Causes Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
While there is no conclusive evidence showing exactly why dogs develop separation anxiety, there are a few potential causes. For example, dogs who were adopted from an animal shelter are more likely to have more behavioral issues than a dog that was raised with the same family from when they were a puppy.
There are certain situations that are commonly associated with separation anxiety in dogs, including:
There is no single cause of separation anxiety in dogs and is often rather a combination of various outside forces. In addition the above-mentioned causes, boredom, loneliness, and old age can also contribute to separation anxiety. Regardless of what the exact cause of your dogs separation may be, its more important to figure out how to treat them so they can live a happier and healthier life.
Expose Your Dog To Different Situations
In order to help your dog overcome separation anxiety, you need to expose him to new situations. The more times he is exposed to these different scenarios and the more confident he becomes in each one, the better he will feel about going out without you. Here are some ideas:
- Take your dog to a pet store or grooming salon. This way they can interact with other dogs and people while youre shopping or getting groomed.
- Take him on walks around town where there are other dogs . You may even want to get him used to walking on a leash before introducing him into this scenario if it is something new for him!
- If possible, try taking them through places like parks or schools where there may be children playing outside as well as other pets running around together too!
You May Like: What Is A Severe Anxiety Attack
Signs Of A Dogs Separation Anxiety
Signs of separation anxiety may be very mild and only consist of a stress response that might be a little barking or whining that lasts for 10-15 minutes after you leave.
But at its worst, dogs suffering separation anxiety may bark and howl incessantly, engage in destructive behaviors like chewing up magazines, furniture, and upending the trash, and inappropriate elimination around the house even when completely house trained.
Dogs with separation anxiety can even get a panic attack and hurt themselves to escape confinement in the sudden absence of their owners, which can lead to more medical problems.
The important distinction that distinguishes separation anxiety from other anxiety behaviors is that these problems only occur when youre not home.
While its a myth that cats are all antisocial creatures , they can be quite content to sleep for 12-14 hours out of the day, use the litter box when they need to, and amuse themselves with toys. This isnt the case with dogs. They need a lot more personal quality time.
Couple the time and scheduling issues many of us have with the needs a dog has, and its not hard to see why separation anxiety can quickly become such a problem.
Start Spending More Time Apart
The routine you create should include some time for your dog away from you and anyone else in your household. Create a safe space in your house for this, by putting a bed in a quiet room in the house, or using pet gates to provide a separate area of the house or garden for them. Its important to make sure your dog has everything they need to feel comfortable while youre away though.
Leave and arrive quietly
Always keep your hellos and goodbyes low key. When your leaving and homecoming rituals involve minimal fuss, it helps your dog to understand that your absence isnt anything to worry about. Prolonged goodbyes may increase their anxiety. While its best not to make a big fuss when you first arrive home, do remember to give your dog plenty of attention and affection when youre together.
Recommended Reading: How To Check Your Anxiety Level