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How To Fix Separation Anxiety

Can Dogs Overcome Seperation Anxiety

Cesar Explains How To Fix Separation Anxiety With Your Dog

Destructive chewing can be a symptom of separation anxiety

You may have encountered dog trainers or dog owners who give you a negative outlook on separation anxiety.

However, Malena was eager to stress to helloBARK! readers that its simply not true.

In fact, she debunked one of the biggest myths surrounding separation anxiety in dogs:

If you walk into any dog park or training group, youll get people who are like Oh your dog has separation anxiety, Im so sorry to hear that good luck with that. I understand why this myth exists. Alluding back to the misinformation out there, it feels like its not fixable because were doing things that arent effective at resolving separation anxiety. Its entirely fixable. If youre a dog trainer or a guardian of a dog with separation anxiety, please flip that switch and know that its a treatable disorder. Success is rampant when the clients do the proper training.

Fresh with the knowledge that separation anxiety is not a death sentence, lets take how long it can take a dogs to beat separation anxiety.

Skip Goodbyes & Elaborate Reunions

It may seem unnatural and even heartbreaking to leave your precious kitty without saying goodbye, but your fond farewells may actually trigger your cats anxiety. Your efforts to calm your cat as you leave may also clue them in to something being out of the ordinary, which is a cause for stress.

Its best to skip the goodbye and just leave.

Also, when you return, dont make a big fuss about being reunited with your kitty. Stay calm and only acknowledge your cat when theyre calm and any unwanted behaviors like clawing or loud vocalizing have stopped.

Do not reward attention-seeking behavior.

Why Do Some Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety

There is no conclusive evidence showing exactly why dogs develop separation anxiety. However, because far more dogs who have been adopted from shelters have this behavior problem than those kept by a single family since puppyhood, it is believed that loss of an important person or group of people in a dogs life can lead to separation anxiety. Other less dramatic changes can also trigger the disorder. The following is a list of situations that have been associated with development of separation anxiety.

Change of Guardian or FamilyBeing abandoned, surrendered to a shelter or given to a new guardian or family can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Change in ScheduleAn abrupt change in schedule in terms of when or how long a dog is left alone can trigger the development of separation anxiety. For example, if a dogs guardian works from home and spends all day with his dog but then gets a new job that requires him to leave his dog alone for six or more hours at a time, the dog might develop separation anxiety because of that change.

Change in ResidenceMoving to a new residence can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Change in Household MembershipThe sudden absence of a resident family member, either due to death or moving away, can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

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Do Toddlers Outgrow Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety decreases as a child ages, but similar feelings may return for short periods of time for other reasons. “When older toddlers or preschoolers are sick or stressed, separation anxiety can be triggered again,” Dr. Boyd-Soisson says. “For example, most 2-year-olds who have been in daycare for a while are often fine when their parents leave. However, when they are starting to get sick, or if they are under stress, it is not uncommon for them to cling to their parents at drop-off.”

Rest assured this behavior is a normal part of development and will disappear over time. Every child is unique and there is no set time frame for when separation anxiety appears or disappears. It may even take a few months for a child’s anxiety to dissipate, so be prepared for regression, especially when routines change because of vacation, illness, or a move.

How To Ease Normal Separation Anxiety

How to Fix Separation Anxiety

For children with normal separation anxiety, there are steps you can take to make the process of separation anxiety easier.

Practice separation. Leave your child with a caregiver for brief periods and short distances at first. As your child gets used to separation, you can gradually leave for longer and travel further.

Schedule separations after naps or feedings. Babies are more susceptible to separation anxiety when theyre tired or hungry.

Develop a quick goodbye ritual. Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as a special wave through the window or a goodbye kiss. Keep things quick, though, so you can:

Leave without fanfare. Tell your child you are leaving and that you will return, then godont stall or make it a bigger deal than it is.

Follow through on promises. For your child to develop the confidence that they can handle separation, its important you return at the time you promised.

Keep familiar surroundings when possible and make new surroundings familiar. Have the sitter come to your house. When your child is away from home, encourage them to bring a familiar object.

Have a consistent primary caregiver. If you hire a caregiver, try to keep them on the job long term to avoid inconsistency in your childs life.

Minimize scary television. Your child is less likely to be fearful if the shows you watch are not frightening.

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Financial Support For Children With Separation Anxiety

Your child might be able to get Medicare rebates for up to 20 mental health service sessions from psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists each calendar year.

To get these rebates, your child will need a mental health treatment plan from a GP , or a referral from a psychiatrist or paediatrician. It doesnt matter how old your child is.

Variables Beyond Our Control

It would be unethical for me to make promises regarding length of treatment for one simple reason: There are often innumerable variables at play over which I have zero control. There may be an undiagnosed medical issue that is affecting the dogs comfort with being alone. Genetics also play a key role, as does the dogs past learning history. These are not parameters that I can simply tweak in my alone-time protocol.

And no matter how effective my coaching skills may be, I cannot force my clients to follow the protocol to the letter. Dont get me wrong it is my job to make the implementation of the training plan as doable and foolproof as possible for my clients. It is my job to be their cheerleader when theyre feeling defeated. It is my job to strategically reinforce the things theyre doing right throughout the process. I can systematically shape and influence their behavior, but I cannot do the training for them.

If a clinically depressed patient asked their therapist how long it would take to cure their condition, the answer wouldnt be simple. The therapist would likely explain that recovery time is highly variable and that it would be arbitrary to even give a ballpark estimate. But one thing is for sure: It requires the patient showing up to do the work. And the same is true in separation anxiety training.

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Signs & Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Cats

The first step in treating separation anxiety is knowing if your cat has it. If your cat acts out when you leave, it can be the result of several medical and behavioral issues, not just separation anxiety. So its best to consult your vet.

If your kitty shows signs like vocalizing while you leave, clinging to you, or hiding as you go, separation anxiety may be the cause.

Additionally, while you are gone, your cat may pee or poop outside of the litter box, make loud vocalizations that disturb the neighbors, vomit, claw at your furniture, or groom excessively. Anorexia can also be a symptom of separation anxiety.

There are some surprising causes of separation anxiety in cats, and some only get separation anxiety when their humans are gone for long periods of time. If your cat is only anxious when youre away traveling, there may be other specific methods of reducing anxiety while youre gone for days at a time.

Here are a few tips for reducing day-to-day separation anxiety when you leave the house for shorter periods of time.

When Do I Need To Worry

How To Fix Separation Anxiety In Your Dog: Professional Tips & Tools

Although it may be difficult to hear a child cry, remember that separation anxiety does have a positive aspect: It indicates that a healthy attachment has bonded a caregiver and child.

You should still watch your child to see if her separation anxiety appears extreme, says Julia F. Heberle, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania. Dr. Heberle recommends analyzing the situation surrounding your child’s feelings. Is there parental conflict, divorce, or something wrong with the child-care setting? If so, the symptoms of separation anxiety may be amplified. If a toddler is showing excessive symptoms, such as vomiting or unrelenting worry, contact your pediatrician.

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Diagnosing Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Once a diagnosis of separation anxiety has been made, your veterinarian will try to determine the underlying cause. This is especially important if the cause is medical in nature, as your dog could be suffering from a severe condition. Diagnosing the underlying cause will also help during treatment, as most treatment options involve behavior modification on behalf of both dogs and owners. However, this process can take time, as in many cases the cause may not be immediately evident. Your veterinarian will likely recommend blood work possibly diagnostic imaging. They may even refer you to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

Diagnosing separation anxiety in dogs is dependent on clinical signs. If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with separation anxiety, he or she will then attempt to find the underlying cause of the condition, which can take time.

What Causes Separation Anxiety In Puppies And Dogs

Its unclear why some puppies are more prone to separation anxiety than others. McConnell theorizes there may be several reasons, including never previously being left alone and traumatic separation, such as would be seen in some abandoned shelter dogs. Even a single traumatic event in the owners absence, like the house being robbed, can lead to SA. Finally, she suggests that personality can play a role, with clingy dogs perhaps being more at risk than independent ones.

Other triggers to watch for involve life changes like a sudden switch in schedule, a move to a new house, or the sudden absence of a family member, whether its a divorce, a death in the family, or a child leaving for college. Recent research has even pointed to a lack of daily exercise as a possible cause. Because there are so many potential triggers for SA, its essential to work on prevention and start treatment at the first sign.

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What Is Malena Demartinis Background In Separation Anxiety

In 2001, I was doing all manner of behaviour work everything from aggression to recalls and so forth.

Very early on, I got my first separation anxiety case. I thought, Oh my gosh, Im a very green trainer so I dont know if I should take this on.

The dog owner said she had talked to seven different dog trainers and all of them had refused to take her on so she didnt know what to do. I said I wanted to be fully transparent with her and that I do understand the principles of separation anxiety but I havent done it before. So I said Id help her but if I was in over my head, Id call someone else.

We worked on the separation anxiety with her dog Guinness. After a short bit of time, we were very successful with his separation anxiety. Word spread like wildfire that I had success with a separation anxiety dog so I started to get a ton of referrals. People didnt like working with separation anxiety.

The second case I took crashed and burned. From that point forward, I set out to research, trial and error and was very transparent with every client, letting them know that I didnt have the perfect solution but Id work with them in every aspect to make progress.

It went on for several years as I learned what works and what doesnt work. Over time, I found a successful direction to go. It quickly became my passion! But I do always say that separation anxiety chose me, I did not chose it!

What Is The Difference Between Separation Anxiety And Normal Canine Behavior

How to fix Separation Anxiety in your Dog at home ...

Before labeling destroyed cushions or potty accidents as SA, be sure its not a case of inadequate training. Does your dog truly understand good manners, even when youre not watching him? Is he 100% potty trained? One of the best ways to see whats really going on in your absence is to audio or videotape your dogs behavior while youre away.

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How To Stop Adult Separation Anxiety

Because adult separation anxiety is only recently being recognized as a serious mental health problem, approaches to treatment are lacking. Yet there are some treatments that are thought to be potentially beneficial. If you believe you or someone you know has ASA, finding help is important. Once there is an awareness of the problem, identifying treatment is vital.

  • Countering Other Anxiety Treating your anxiety symptoms can be very helpful. Many people with ASA display obsessive thoughts very similar to OCD, and some experience anxiety attacks when left alone. Recognizing the symptoms of other anxiety disorders can be extremely advantageous. Click here to start my anxiety test and see what you can treat
  • Childhood Separation Procedures The same treatments that help children with separation anxiety may help adults as well. ASA can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as systematic desensitization – learning to be alone in a way that is calming and better for mental health. Some medications may also be recommended, and relaxation strategies can be implemented as well.
  • Support Groups Finding support can also be beneficial. Support groups for ASA may be a big help because it provides the person with additional social support beyond the person they’re connected to. Often one of the fears is losing that support so that a solid support group may be of assistance.

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How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Adults

There are some steps you can take to help you deal with any separation anxiety you may be feeling as restrictions lift in your country or territory:

  • Breathe – When you feel a panic attack, anxious thoughts or feelings coming on, try to take some deep breaths and communicate your situation calmly. When were stressed or scared, we can become critical, angry or blame the person closest to us as a defence mechanism. This brings on a higher risk of conflict and arguments which will result in the opposite of what were looking for: closeness, not separation. Take some deep breaths and explain your feelings as calmly as possible to your partner.
  • Focus On The Positives – Being apart from each other is healthy and a good thing for all thriving, happy relationships. It allows you to miss the other person and make your time together even more important and special. As you go back to the office to work, or start going out individually, decide together how much contact you each need to begin and schedule accordingly. Then, re-visit this every so often as being out of the house becomes more common and you both get more used to being out without the other.
  • If the separation anxiety becomes unbearable or youre really struggling to cope or manage your emotions, check in with your doctor or a certified, professional therapist or counsellor.

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