Signs Of Dog Separation Anxiety
Its time to observe your dog and see how she responds when you take off.
Set up your laptop, phone, or another recording device one day while youre out of the house .
Dogs with separation anxiety may display signs of distress, with common symptoms that include:
- Panting or pacing constantly while youre gone
- Fully dilated pupils
- Destructive chewing towards doors and crates
- Inappropriate urinating and elimination
With canine separation anxiety, a dogs anxious behaviors usually will get worse, rather than better, when youre gone longer.
In comparison, dogs who are just bored or under-exercised wont look as frantic and panicked.
Dogs with separation anxiety are also unlikely to focus their destruction on food thievery. If your dog is stealing food, destroying the couch, or getting into the trash, shes probably bored or under-exercised. For these dogs, try upping their daily walks to ensure they get plenty of exercise and see if you notice an improvement!
Dogs with separation anxiety disorders often direct their destruction at escape. They destroy crates, doors, and windows as they try to find you.
Be prepared for what you might see when you watch the video of your dog alone it can be really tough to watch. Watching video of a dog with full-blown separation anxiety is one of the most sobering things that I do as a dog behavior consultant.
Heres an example of what a separation anxiety disorder can look like when a dog is left home alone:
If The Problem Is More Serious
A dog with severe anxiety won’t be distracted by even the tastiest treats. You’ll need to slowly get them used to your absence.
They may start to get nervous when they see signs you’re about to leave, like putting on your shoes or picking up your keys. So do those things, but then don’t leave. Put on your shoes and then sit down at the table. Pick up your keys and watch TV. Do this over and over many times a day.
When your dog starts to feel less anxious about that, you can slowly start to disappear. First just go on the other side of the door. Ask your dog to stay, then close an inside door between you. Reappear after a few seconds. Slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone. Put on your shoes and pick up your keys. Ask your dog to stay while you go into another room.
As they get more used to the “stay game,” increase the amount of time you’re gone. Then use an outside door, but not the same one you go out every day. Make sure your dog is relaxed before you leave.
Only you can tell if your dog is ready to be left alone for longer periods. Don’t rush things. Give them a stuffed treat when you’ve built up to 10 seconds or so apart. Always act calm when you leave and when you return.
Gradually build up the time until you can leave the house for a few minutes. Then stay away for longer and longer periods.
Do Dog Separation Anxiety Toys Work
Toys specifically designed for dog separation anxiety can keep them busy so they dont realize that theyre alone. They can also offer a positive reinforcement so your dog associates the toy with your departure, which will lessen their negative behaviors.
However, dog separation anxiety toys tend to work best when theyre used with other training methods.
Recommended Reading: What To Say To People With Anxiety
Why Does Averting Eye Contact Help
When you move around the house doing what you need, it helps your dog to be completely relaxed. Avoid your eye contact and concentrate on your own activity. If you look at your dog while walking, it will make your dog feel like you need them and want them with you all the time. If you do this, your dog is never given the opportunity to relax when you are in, unless you are sat down.
It’s Important To Establish A Routine For Your Dog Now So They Are Prepared When You Return To Work
While there is no silver bullet when it comes to preventing separation anxiety, there are things you can do in advance to prepare your dog for a seamless return to your old routine. According to Pratt, one of the most important things dog owners can do is establish a routine that closely resembles the one they had in place before stay-at-home orders were issued.
“Allow your pet to have some alone time. You have your space, and they have theirs,” said Sueda. Even if you don’t have anywhere to go outside of the house, you can put your dog behind a pet gate or in a separate room.
You should leave your dog alone in the house on occasion, particularly if they have not struggled with separation anxiety in the past. “I typically tell people that they are going to want to do an absence minimally three days a week and try to sprinkle in things like going to the mailbox ,” said DeMartini-Price. Use the time out of the house to do essential shopping, take a walk, or sit outside with a book for an hour.
Do they bark or have an accident immediately after you’ve left the house? Are they relatively relaxed for several minutes before they display signs of anxiety? Using a security camera or webcam to observe your dog’s behavior can give a good sense of how they might be feeling.
Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Adults
Try A Behavioral Aid Toy
SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy is a soft plush toy designed to ease separation anxiety in puppies by providing them with feelings of intimacy and physical warmth. When you cant be home, this toy will fill your puppys need for a companion.
Along with the snuggle toy itself, it also comes with a pulsing heartbeat device, and a non-toxic heat source to mimic other littermates. This makes for a great gift for dog lovers, and for welcoming a new puppy home.
Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog Following You
Any pet gets used to and becomes attached to its owner and wants to spend time with him/her. If your dog is scared, talk to it it will calm down and stop its active pursuit. You should pay attention to the amount of time that you devote to your furry friend. Morning and evening walks should provide your pet with your attention.
Anxiety can cause destructive behavior during the absence of the owner. In such cases, it is necessary to establish interaction between the owner and the dog. This approach will make the dog more independent and calm down and relax separately from the owner when they are at home together. This will be the first step towards a more balanced behavior of the animal.
In some cases, it is worth changing the initially disturbing emotion of the dog associated with care. One method is to give the dog a treat just before going out. If the dog focuses on the treat and eats the food, this can reduce anxiety.
Don’t Miss: Do Antidepressants Work For Anxiety
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.
Does Exercise Help Separation Anxiety In Dogs
No. Your dog may be exhausted for a while, thats all. When a dog is fuelled with adrenaline, rest does not come easily and by exercising your dog too much, it can have the opposite effect an adrenaline-driven body that has more energy when it returns from a walk than it did before the walk.
A long, active walk may be a quick fix, but ultimately, if they are anxious when you leave, it doesnt matter whether youve been for a walk or not, they will still be anxious.
Read Also: How To Beat Stress Anxiety And Depression
Before You Leave The House Take Your Dog For A Walk
Start your day by taking your dog for a brisk walk. To make the walk even more rigorous, use a dog backpack with extra weight in it. Then reward your dogs calm-submissive energy with food and water. Some dogs may need to rest before eating, but all dogs can benefit from hydration. The idea is to leave your dog in quiet, resting mode while you are away.
What Is The Difference Between Separation Anxiety And Normal Canine Behavior
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.
Read Also: Does Anxiety Cause Breathing Problems
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Happy Alone
Pop a filming device up in the room you leave your dog alone at home. It will give you the answer.
Helping your dog relax at home
Place your dog in a room at the back of the house. Its quiet and there are no worries about a knock at the door or letters being delivered. For many dogs, these activities are a great concern.
No opportunity to sit and bark out of the window at passers-by means there is no guard job to do for dogs. Out of sight is out of mind.
How To Train Dogs Not To Bark When Left Alone
One of the approaches to dog training for separation anxiety barking is to teach your dog to associate something wonderful with your absence. It teaches him to associate treats, toys, and other rewards with your departure, and it gives him something to look forward to upon your return.
You might give your dog a frozen treat stuffed in a Kong or similar puzzle toy, so she has to work to free it. This distraction will keep her busy for a while and help her forget youre gone. When you return home, the Kong or other toy gets put away so she associates it only with your absence.
You might also start this training tactic while youre home but in another part of the house. This is when the Barx Buddy ultrasonic training device comes in handy.
Read Also: How To Calm Flying Anxiety
Avoid Punishing Your Dog
If your dog misbehaves while you’re out, it’s important that you don’t react badly. Your dog will become anxious about what you’ll do when you return the next time you go out, making the anxiety and behaviour worse. If you do come home to a mess, it’s essential not to physically punish or shout at your dog. Try to avoid ever letting your dog see that you’re annoyed – let them outside before cleaning up.
Dogs who’ve been told off may lower their head, put their ears back and put their tail between their legs. Sadly, owners think that their dog looks guilty and tell them off because they know they’ve done wrong, but even if you take your dog to the ‘scene of the crime’, they won’t associate your anger with their earlier behaviour. Your dog will simply become more anxious the next time you go out.
Give Your Dog A Safe Comfortable Space Of Their Own
Make sure you leave your dog in a safe area of the house so if they do try to chew or destroy anything they cant be injured. Make sure its the right temperature and they have a safe comfortable bed to relax in.
Some dogs will happily use a dog flap to get out into a secure garden if they need the toilet. If a dog flap isnt suitable for your home, someone will need to come and let them out regularly so they can have a toilet break.
Also Check: How Can I Tell If I Have Anxiety
Slowly Increase The Amount Of Time You’re Out Of Sight
Again, this might mean staying outside for only two seconds, then three, and so on for severe cases. Once you start adding time, you can mix up the intervals during which you step out in a given training session. For example, if you’re able to remain outside for five minutes, first step out for five minutes and then for three minutes. Change it up, but don’t go beyond five minutes until your dog is showing no signs of anxiety. Keep going until your dog seems generally comfortable with your absence.