Keep Your Arrivals And Departures Low
Your dog takes emotional cues from you its part of that special human-animal bond. If youre anxious about leaving them alone, theyll notice and start to become anxious as well.
- Avoid fawning over your dog before you leave. This does NOT mean you cant say goodbye. Just do so in a calm manner that indicates to your dog that your leaving is nothing to worry about. Some dog owners like telling their dogs the same thing every time they leave, such as Ill be back or Be good, see you later!
- Stay calm when you arrive back home. Of course your dog will be happy to see you, and its heartwarming to have a pup with a wagging tail greet you when you get home. But if youre wanting to prevent separation anxiety, you dont want your dog to become overexcited about your return.
- Teach your dog a polite welcome home routine. Not only does this keep greetings calm, it also helps with behaviors such as jumping on people and door dashing. Have your dog sit and stay for any attention, train them to go to bed, or have them perform a few tricks.
Our Puppy’s Separation Anxiety Is Awful So I Asked 2 Experts How To Calm Him Down
Separation anxiety in dogs and puppies can be incredibly trying for an owner. The whining that ensues upon your departure invokes all the guilt in the world. For my family, we got our puppy as soon as the world stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t planned that way it just sort of happened. So, because we were home all the time, his separation anxiety only got worse. Luckily, I have a great veterinarian and dog trainer who help me ease my puppy’s nerves when we leave. Here’s what they suggest if you’re struggling, too.
Common Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety
The following is a list of symptoms that may indicate separation anxiety:
Urinating and DefecatingSome dogs urinate or defecate when left alone or separated from their guardians. If a dog urinates or defecates in the presence of his guardian, his house soiling probably isnt caused by separation anxiety.
Barking and HowlingA dog who has separation anxiety might bark or howl when left alone or when separated from his guardian. This kind of barking or howling is persistent and doesnt seem to be triggered by anything except being left alone.
Chewing, Digging and DestructionSome dogs with separation anxiety chew on objects, door frames or window sills, dig at doors and doorways, or destroy household objects when left alone or separated from their guardians. These behaviors can result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped paws and damaged nails. If a dogs chewing, digging and destruction are caused by separation anxiety, they dont usually occur in his guardians presence.
EscapingA dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from an area where hes confined when hes left alone or separated from his guardian. The dog might attempt to dig and chew through doors or windows, which could result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped front paws and damaged nails. If the dogs escape behavior is caused by separation anxiety, it doesnt occur when his guardian is present.
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How To Get My Dog Over Separation Anxiety
When the problem does not seem to be majortry giving your dog a few treats . Your plans dont need a lot of hype in the mornings and evenings. Wear clothes that you can smell after a few months. Take over-the-counter supplements to soothe your pet.
What Should A Dog Owner Do Before Leaving The House To Prevent Separation Anxiety
Maria LaCombe from Einstein Dog Training in Michigan said it’s important to tire out your dog before you leave. “A good dog is a tired dog â but they have to be both physically and mentally tired,” she explained. I had never thought about the mental part of it before. I simply thought that running your dog ragged was all I needed to do. LaCombe suggested using a flirt pole â which is essentially a big cat toy that entices your dog to move toward a fast-paced lure. These toys provide your puppy extra stimulation to help wear them out both physically and mentally. LaCombe also suggested freezing a Kong toy filled with food mixed with some yogurt or pumpkin. Because your dog will have to work to get the food out, they’re engaged on a mental and physical level. If you want to tire out your dog with a game of fetch or tug of war, you can also add some obedience training before leaving to mentally poop them out.
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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 Leave Your Dog Home Alone During These Training Stages
One of the primary challenges in dealing with separation anxiety is that once the training process begins, your dog should never be left alone. Flores notes that even if you cant be home with your dog, you can enlist a neighbor, friend, family member, dog walker or daycare to help during the training process.
Managing absences is extremely important to protect the progress we are making during training. If for example, we get the dog to a point where he is comfortable for 30 mins, but the next day hes left alone for two hours, weve potentially undone all the work weve put in. Hes no longer able to trust that his guardian will return before he starts to panic, explains Flores.
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Remember Youre Not Alone
The most important thing is to get your ducks in a row in terms of who you can lean on, said Shoshi Parks, a professional dog trainer who specializes in separation anxiety. Whether thats a dog care provider you trust that can walk your dog, or a doggy daycare that you can bring them to, or a trusted friend or neighbor that you can drop the dog off when you need to be somewhere.
Having a dog with separation anxiety can be daunting, so look to family and friends for support when you need them. Parks also wants dog owners to know that training can be flexible and tailored to fit particular lifestyles, so getting help for your dogs separation anxiety doesnt mean overhauling your entire life. They can really do it on their own time, and that it really only takes a commitment of about 30 minutes a day.
Medical Problems To Rule Out First
Incontinence Caused by Medical ProblemsSome dogs house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog leaks or voids his bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems often seem unaware that theyve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. A number of medical issuesincluding a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushings disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitaliacan cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Before attempting behavior modification for separation anxiety, please see your dogs veterinarian to rule out medical issues.
MedicationsThere are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your dog takes any medications, please contact his veterinarian to find out whether or not they might contribute to his house-soiling problems.
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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.
Desensitise Your Dog To Your Movement
When you move from room to room your dog has got into the habit of following you, they have become a velcro dog. When your dog cannot see or be with you panic sets in.
Step 1 is all about desensitising your dog to your movement and stopping them constantly following you when you are at home. Lets break this step down into 2, shuffling and standing up:
- Shuffling in your seat Before you get to the point of standing up and moving away from your dog, shuffle in your chair. Cross and uncross your legs, move your arms up and down. If your dog reacts to your movement, stop and wait for them to relax again. Repeat this until your dog does not react to your shuffling.
- Desensitise toyou walking Now it is time to get out of your seat. Stand, then immediately sit. Move towards a stand and step forward, then backward and sit down again
- Youll get to a stage when you can walk around your room freely while your dog remains rested. This can take a good few sessions, even more in extreme cases.
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Tips For Mild Cases Of Puppy Separation Anxiety:
Puppy separation anxiety is better prevented than cured. However, its important to recognise that dogs are social animals, and if theyre going to be frequently left alone for long periods of time, it may not be a good idea to get a dog.
For more puppy advice and guides, take a look at our content hub, full of useful information on how to raise a healthy and happy dog.
Seeking The Help Of A Professional
If our treatment advice hasn’t eased the separation-related behaviour, talk to a vet who knows you and your dog. They should then refer you to a clinical animal behaviourist. They will help you identify the underlying cause of the problem and develop a treatment plan that works for you and your dog.
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Dealing With Moderate Or Severe Cases
Leave Comfort Items And Background Music On For Your Dog
Items that have your scent such as dirty laundry can help your dog relax and remember that you will come back. Remove stress factors such as chokers, collars, chains, or crates if your dog doesnt like them. Hide treats around the house so they can hunt them while you’re away. Finally, soothing nature sounds can help your dog relax and fall asleep. You can monitor your dog through a Petcube Bites 2, a pet camera that doubles as a treat dispenser.
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What Can I Do About My Dogs Separation Anxiety
Its exhausting to come home to destruction and upsetting to see your puppy in such distress. Its even more devastating for your dog. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to deal with SA. The Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic states the goal of treatment is to resolve the dogs underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. So some of the treatments are the same as the preventative measures and may already be part of your puppys routine. But consider all of them as you tackle SA. Look at the following methods of treatment:
1. Crate TrainingIt bears repeating that a crate is your dogs friend and your ally. Its an important training tool and the solution for many puppy challenges. It isnt cruel or unhealthy if used appropriately. Instead, it can provide your pup with a safe, quiet place to relax. The trick is to teach him to associate his crate with wonderful things like chew toys and food-releasing puzzle toys so hes happy to spend time inside. Some dogs feel safer and more comfortable in their crate when left alone. However, other dogs can panic. Watch your puppys behavior to see if he settles right down or if the anxiety symptoms ramp up. Remember, the goal is not to crate your dog all day, every day as a solution to his SA. Its to keep him and your house safe while you teach him to enjoy being alone.