Curing Dog Separation Anxiety Quickly
First things first you never really cure separation anxiety in dogs. Everything that we discussed in the previous section, What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs? will remain relevant throughout a canine lifespan, and your dog will never love being left alone.
Training is always the most impactful way of helping your dog overcome their fears of being left alone, and that is largely achieved by rewarding your dog every time you come home , and ensuring that your dog has enough entertainment to keep them occupied while youre away.
Overall, however, the most important thing is to build a bond of trust with your canine companion. The only way a dog will ever break their separation anxiety is by eventually beginning to believe you when you say that youll be back soon!
That works too, by the way dogs understand more than we give them credit for, so it never hurts to tell your dog where youre going, why, and when youll be back. Dont feel silly about doing this its been suggested that people who speak to their pets are more intelligent.
If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety He Wont Eat While Youre Gone
Think back to a situation where you were extremely worried or afraid. Chances are, a tasty pizza wasnt the first thing on your mind. For many stressed-out dogs, the same mechanism is at work. But chewing provides stress relief for dogs, and in many cases, despite their stress, dogs will excavate stuffed Kongs, gnaw on chew bones, or work at food-dispensing toys. If you stuff a Kong or other food dispenser for your dog, place the item within easy reach and lay out a short trail of super yummy treats leading to it. This trail o treats is more likely to entice your dog to begin chewing than leaving the Kong lying there by itself.
Some dogs are too wound up to stay in one place to chew. For those dogs, a food dispenser that can be batted around, such as the Molecuball or Kong Wobbler, is a better choice. These products allow the dog to expend that anxious energy in a more active way, and by providing that focus, may even prevent destruction.
Time Alone For Dogs: There Is A Limit
Its unfair to ask a young dog to stay home alone for 5 to 10 hours he needs to get out to relieve himself midway through the day. If you force him to soil in the home, at worst you can cause stress-related behaviors, at best you may create house-training problems. Options may include taking him to work with you, having family members come home on their lunch hour, arranging for stay-at-home neighbors to take him out, hiring a pet walker to walk him and play with him, or sending him to a well-run doggie daycare environment.
If you set up a routine to help your dog succeed, hell someday earn his Masters Degree in Home Alone, and be trusted with full house freedom. lt may be too late for some dog owners to say theyve never had a dog with separation anxiety, but its never too late to say never again!
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Build Your Dog’s Confidence
If your dog is fearful and anxious when left alone, it could be an issue with their confidence. Just like humans, the more we reward our dogs and boost their confidence the happier they will be to do things on their own.
You can help your dog to be less anxious about being left alone by engaging in some basic training to help increase their self-confidence. This could be teaching them fun new tricks or just practicing behaviours they already know such as sit, down and paw. Try to also reward any independent behaviour from your dog, rewarding them with gentle praise if they choose to settle themselves down somewhere away from you.
Why Is My Dog So Anxious At Night
Some dogs are the picture of restraint during the day. They listen to your commands, they listen to your instructions, they’re polite with guests, calm with kids, and only give the mailman a fright if they’re feeling particularly frisky.
But then night comes around, and suddenly, all bets are off. Dr. Jekyll transforms into Mr. Hyde, barking, wailing, ripping up the furniture, pacing endlessly, and generally doing everything in their power to keep everyone in a 5-mile radius from getting a wink of sleep.
There’s no doubt about it. Nighttime anxiety can be extremely destructive and incredibly disturbing.
But what exactly causes it?
Dogs are creatures of habit. They like routine, and they’d prefer things to stay as constant and unchanging as possible. What they don’t like is unexpected changes.
If something’s knocked the wind out of their sails , they might display some small, occasional signs of anxiety during the day.
When the lights go out, those small anxieties can bubble over into pacing, constant repositioning, and outright signs of distress.
Lack of Activity
Even dogs with low activity demands still need to have those demands met. If they’re not getting enough opportunities during the day to burn off their energy, it’s going to build up till it explodes.
When it does, expect destructive behavior through the day and constant fretting and pacing through the night.
A change in routine or circumstances can be enough to trigger separation anxiety in almost any dog.
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How To Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety
Vets may prescribe drugs, which tend to calm a dogs senses a little, but they are not a cure. Drugs only provide a support mechanism to assist the owner in rehabilitating the dog, it is only a temporary fix for the underlying problem. You have to treat the root cause.
It really starts the moment you get your puppy. All too often a puppy taken from the litter begins to cry when left alone. This is a big change for the pup, they no longer have the pack they were born with. When he cries, we go and pick him up and show sympathyhis crying is rewarded. Later, if he is crying in a crate, and you let him out he is being rewarded for his crying. Only reward desired behavior.
From the beginning, we need to teach our pup to be quiet and settle down for increasing periods of time. We need to teach patience and calmness and reward that instead. When he is out with us, we should not be attempting to constantly interact with him. Let him learn to entertain himself with his toys.
Teach the pup to accept the crate. Allow him to explore under supervision and to learn the limits and boundaries of his environment to gain respect for this environment, and for the people in it. That means consistency in all the things you do, and that includes everyone in the family who interacts with your dog.
When To Get Help From A Behavior Consultant
Even with our best efforts, some dogs will always be more naturally prone to hyperactivity and anxiety. As pet parents, we sometimes wonder if we did something to cause our dogs anxiety. Did we not give them enough love? Enough exposure to noises and people?
Dr. Lisa Radosta, DVM, assured me this is often not the case with most dogs who have not experienced trauma . Just like people, some dogs are simply coded to have more anxiety. Its literally in their DNA!
You can learn more about that in this post about separation anxiety.
So, if youve tried the above tips and your dog is still experiencing symptoms, it may be time to call in a behavior consultant.
I always recommend finding help through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Here you can obtain contact info for a certified veterinarian who specializes in behavioral issues, like anxiety. Who better to advise you on your dogs health and behavior than a veterinarian?
With help, even the most anxious dog can get a good night sleep!
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Case Study: Misdiagnosis Of Separation Anxiety
Lexi was a ve-year-old spayed female Husky/Greyhound mix in rescue, presented by the foster mom as having separation anxiety that manifested as destructive behavior. Lexi had been in several prior foster homes, none of which reported destructive behavior.
As we discussed Lexis behavior during her behavior consultation, the dog paced almost constantly, and displayed numerous other signs of general stress, including whining, attention-seeking, and exploring doorways, even though her current human was sitting quietly in a chair in the center of the room. Her behavior did not change signicantly when her human left the room.
The foster parent mentioned that she had noted a heightened anxiety when Lexi heard mystery electronic beeping in the house probably om a watch hidden in a drawer that the owners were unable to locate. She also reportedly reacted badly to the beeps of other watches, cameras, and other electronic devices.
I concluded that while Lexi did, indeed, have anxiety problems, they were not separation-related, but rather a more generalized anxiety. While we have no way of knowing for sure, I surmised that at some point she may have been contained in an underground shock fence, and the beeping sounds that caused her heightened anxiety were similar to the warning beep of the fence. For a dog who has been trained to such a fence, the sound of the beep, through association with the shock, can be every bit as aversive and stress-causing at the shock itself.
Senior Dogs With Separation Anxiety At Night
For other dogs, separation anxiety is more related to the nighttime darkness than to be alone. This is especially common with senior dogs whose eyesight, hearing and other senses are deteriorating. The darkness combined with lesser functioning senses can make old-timers nervous and so seek out their pack leader for comfort.
It is possible for dogs that were previously fine with being alone to display separation anxiety at night as they reach old age. If your furry friend is starting to get uncomfortable in darkness, you can install a doggy night light.
Dogs have better night vision than humans but their night vision might not be as strong as they get old. You can install a night light for your dog near his sleeping place. This will give him enough vision to identify his surroundings.
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If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety Its Best To Ignore Him While Youre At Home
This one was probably an extrapolation of the traditional advice to ignore your dog for 10 minutes before leaving the house, and for 10 minutes after returning. The logic goes that the less difference in emotional peaks and valleys between when youre at home and when youre gone, the easier it will be for the dog. But I didnt get a dog to ignore him, and I bet you didnt either. Besides, imagine that your significant other suddenly began to ignore you. Wouldnt you wonder what youd done wrong? Would you not become anxious and stressed even if you werent to begin with? Dogs are masters of observation and believe me, if you suddenly start to ignore your dog, chances are youll cause more anxiety, not less. It is true that you shouldnt make a huge fuss over your comings and goings, but keeping things on an even keel emotionally is the key.
When Does Canine Dementia Usually Start
Canine cognitive dementia typically begins when the dog is 11 years or older. Researchers say this neurodegenerative disease affects about 60 percent of dogs.
While no specific breed is more affected by this than others, experts say it is usually diagnosed in smaller breeds since they tend to have a longer lifespan than larger dogs. Furthermore, they say that CCDs similarity to Alzheimers could provide helpful insight into the human disease.
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Symptoms That Your Senior Dog Behaviour Is Anxious
As your doggy friend cannot explain to you that he is anxious, you have to understand whether it is anxious or not just by observation. Anxiety in senior dogs can include some common symptoms such as
1. Excessive panting and lip licking
2. Shaking and acting nervous
3. Aggression towards others and other dogs
5. Excessive licking and biting themselves
9. Destructive behaviour and barking excessively
10. Urinating and defecating in the house
All these symptoms may not be exhibited by every dog. The presence of these symptoms depends upon the individual dog and its levels of 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.
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Training For Curing Dog Separation Anxiety Quickly
Training is essential for putting a stop to dog separation anxiety. The sooner you do so, the sooner your dog will become more comfortable being left alone. If youre looking for a fast response from Fido, take some time off work and concentrate on the task at hand.
Here is some advice on building trust and putting a stop to dog separation anxiety.
Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Another reason separation anxiety seems more prevalent today than a few decades ago is that it is misdiagnosed with some frequency by laypersons. With an increased awareness of the condition has come an increase in misidentification of behaviors that resemble separation distress behaviors, but really arent.
For example, house soiling can be related to anxiety, but there are many other potential causes. These include incomplete housetraining, lack of access to appropriate elimination areas, unreasonable owner expectations , fear, excitement, marking, submissive elimination, or physical incontinence.
Destructive behavior may be a result of separation anxiety, or it could be normal puppy behavior, play, reaction to outside stimuli, and/or an outlet for excess energy. Separation distress could be the cause of excessive barking and howling, or the dog could be stimulated to bark by street sounds , trespassers , social facilitation , play, aggression, or fear.
Its critically important that a problem behavior be correctly identified prior to the implementation of a behavior modification program. It does no good to try to modify separation anxiety if thats not really the problem.
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Causes Of Dog Separation Anxiety
Dog separation anxiety is often unknowingly encouraged by dog owners. We make a big fuss when we leave or come home, and in doing so we reward the dogs concern with our absence, provoking in him even more stress every time we leave.
We like our dogs to be with us and when they are puppies, we take them everywhere for socialization. Then, we have to leave them alone, but they reach an age when they not only want, but also feel the need to be with uswe are their source of confidence, their security, and their pack.
A change in their routines can create the symptoms of dog separation anxiety, but destruction and stress can also be created by boredom and lack of exercise. Terriers are born to dig, retrievers to carry and protection breeds to protect. So, in some instances we are holding them back from their instincts and drives, rather than nurturing them.
Remember Cesars mantra, which is a good start to correcting these problems: exercise, discipline, and only then, affection. You need to establish a balance between patience, obedience, and confidence in your dog.
Aim to develop a behavior in our dog that reflects the harmonious partnership you both share. He should have enough confidence in himself and in your leadership. This way, he can be confident in situations, such as being left alone, because he knows that you will always provide the leadership and guidance required. He trusts and knows that you will come home.
Letting Your Dog Sleep In Your Bed Will Cause Separation Anxiety
I cant tell you the number of times Ive heard trainers advise owners not to allow their dogs to sleep with them, for fear the dog would become so bonded that being left alone would become unbearable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The above-referenced study also concluded that activities such as allowing the dog on the owners bed . . . were not associated with separation anxiety.
While its true that sleeping in the owners bed wont cause separation anxiety, if your dog already suffers from the issue, all of that nighttime closeness wont help. After all, the goal is for your dog to learn to feel relaxed when alone, and if he cant even be physically separated from you overnight, how can he remain calm by himself during the day when youre gone? Start by giving your dog an alternate sleeping space. Dont worry it can be right by your bed at first. Place a dog bed next to yours and gently coax your dog back into his own bed each time he tries to climb up into yours or, if necessary, use a short leash to tether him in place nearby. You might eventually choose to have him sleep farther away or outside the room altogether, but getting him out of your bed is a good start.
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