Modern Life & The Advent Of Leash Laws
Ultimately, the rise in canine separation anxiety cases has a lot to do with the changing nature of modern life and what it means for a dog to be a four-legged house pet, who must live by a routine that its human dictates, but which isnt always in line with what the dog itself wants or needs.
Plus, with the advent of leash laws coming into effect over the past 50 years, dog guardians have way less options for allowing their dog to run free, so it can be a challenge to find ways to fulfill all of their canine companions needs, especially for those who have adopted an active or working dog breed or an especially hyper dog.
As a result, as more and more dogs have less freedom and must spend more and more time indoors, they are more prone to suffer from the side effects of boredom and having a lot of excess energy to burn.
They are also more likely to be affected by everyday frustrations, such as having to stay behind when their human pack member leaves home to roam outside without them.
What Behaviors Indicate A Diagnosis Of Separation Anxiety
According to Dr. Agapis, signs of separation anxiety differ between cats and dogs. The behaviors seen in dogs include: following their owner pre-departure anxiety vocalization destructive behavior, such as chewing and biting inappropriate elimination pacing frantic attempts to escape self-destructive behavior salivation vomiting lack of appetite for no medical reason and exuberant greeting when their owner returns.
While the criteria for cat diagnosis has not been clearly defined, some behaviors seen in cats with separation anxiety include: inappropriate urination or defecation excessive vocalization, such as loud, persistent meowing eating too fast or not at all vomiting excessive grooming destructiveness, such as shredding curtains or furniture with claws or knocking over objects and exuberant greeting when their owner returns.
Dealing With Dog Separation Anxiety
One of the most common phrases used by owners to describe a dog that appears stressed when the owner leaves homeor just leaves the roomis separation anxiety in dogs.
We can define separation anxiety as a dog problem behavior that shows itself through symptoms like excessive salivation, barking, whining, destroying items in the home, scratching at walls, doors and floors, and attempting to escape from the crate, or room.
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Can Dogs Have Separation Anxiety
Typically, separation anxiety refers to a dog who has formed a hyper-attachment to a single individual and exhibits distress and behavior problems if that person isnt present.
According to Dr. Richter, separation anxiety tends to vary by breed, with the more hypervigilant breeds being more prone to experience separation anxiety.
Lifestyle also plays a part, Dr. Richter told The Dodo. Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time or those exposed to a lot of noise, frenzied activity, etc., may be more prone. In short, it’s a lot like people.
What Should I Do If I Come Home To A Mess
If your dog has been anxious during your departure, and this has led to destruction or house soiling, then anything you do may increase your dogâs anxiety, making matters worse for future departures and it will not correct what has already been done. Therefore both punishment and excited greetings must be avoided. At homecomings, ignore your dog until she settles down . Your dog should soon learn that the faster she settles, the sooner she will get your attention.
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How Can I Help My Dog With Car Anxiety
If you notice your dog getting stressed while on the road, you should consult your veterinarian about motion sickness and anxiety. Its most likely your dog will be prescribed anti anxiety medication to help them with car journeys. You might also want to exercise them a lot before the journey and tire them out before seeing a vet.
Stay Positive We Are Here To Help
You and your dog or puppy will get through this as long as you follow the training plan. Just stick with it and be patient until they show signs of improvement!
Dog Savvy Los Angeles is here to support you through the process of resolving your dog or puppys separation anxiety. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with questions or if you need support!
Alexandra Bassett is a Canine Separation Anxiety Specialist and the owner of Dog Savvy Los Angeles, a Los Angeles dog training company specializes in positive, game-based, dog training & solving problem dog behaviors like dog separation anxiety. She is certified as Knowledge Assessed by the Council of Professional Dog Trainers and is available for online dog training sessions via Zoom.
For more information on how to not only help your dog transition through divorce but navigate the legalities of pet custody, click here
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Common Signs And Symptoms Of Beagle Separation Anxiety
The following list could indicate separation anxiety in your beagle:
1. Barking, Whining, or Howling
Beagles are ordinarily a very vocal dog breed, but a sure-fire sign that they have some separation anxiety is if they are constantly barking, whining, or howling for the duration of the time that they are left alone.
2. Urinating and Defecating within 30 Minutes
High levels of stress can have a similar impact on beagles as they do in humans, causing immediate and unwanted urination or defecation.
When their instinctive Fight or Flight defenses kick in, adrenaline can cause a loss of control on their bladder and bowels, leading to pees and poops in the home, even when they are fully house trained.
3. Eating Their Own Poop
If your beagle has defecated and eaten its own poop whilst you are out, this could be a sign of separation anxiety.
Although separation anxiety is not the main cause of why beagles eat poop, it could be likely if this only happens when they are left alone at home.
4. Chewing and Destruction
If your beagle has been sufficiently exercised and exhausted, yet begins chewing on furniture or other household items soon after being left at home alone, this could be a symptom of separation anxiety.
Destruction can be used by beagles as a means of coping with the frustration or anxiety of being left alone.
For general tips on how to limit normal destructive behavior, read 13 Ways to Beagle-Proof Your Home
5. Scratching at Doors and Windows
7. Loss of Appetite
Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
According to Dr. Richter, dogs who experience separation anxiety exhibit distress and behavior problems when theyre left alone, and its not their normal or typical behavior.
Because separation anxiety is a panic disorder, many of the signs are similar to when a dog is experiencing a panic attack. A dog that paces, whines and/or barks throughout an absence is likely suffering from panic when left alone, Dr. Richter said.
Here are some common signs of separation anxiety in dogs.
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Don’t Ignore Separation Anxiety
You may have heard that ignoring your dog or letting them cry it out will teach your dog to self-soothe or learn healthy boundaries, but for a young puppy this probably won’t work and may have the opposite affect. “When you’re in need of an attachment figure, you’ve been separated from your mom, lost your litter mates, your new owners should not be distancing you. Leaving a puppy to cry is precisely the wrong approach because, at this stage, newly adopted pups need all the care and attention you can muster,” said Dodman.
“They should be kept as close as possible, spoken to kindly and have all their needs met.” That being said, Dodman continued it’s important to strike a balance between loving them and being matter of fact, especially when it comes to departures. Being overly emotional when you leave will make them feel like it’s a big deal and that they should panic.
To help find that balance, Basinger suggests thinking about it as “coaching them on how to learn how to self soothe and self pacify.” If your dog is in their crate or in another room and starts to get upset, get closer to them, allow them to see you and talk to them. The key is to address it, not ignore it, because your dog’s separation anxiety won’t get better on its own.
Get A Companion For Your Dog
Getting a companion is a very pervasive idea, it seems like an easy solution and a quick win.
However, a dogs anxiety doesnt stem from loneliness, they feel nervous because you, their owner have left. That nervous feeling wont disappear because theres another dog around the house.
Taking on another dog is a big commitment, so unless youre confident that you want another pet, dont risk it.
Countless people have found that this method has no guarantee of success.
Worse still, many end up managing two dogs with separation anxiety.
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What Is Separation Anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety get anxious about not being around their favorite person or people, such as when they go to work, school, or even the grocery store. Not only is this stressful for the dog, but it can also be difficult for their loved ones.
You may feel guilty leaving the house when you know Sparkys going to cry at the front door until you get back, or worry about finding another destroyed sneaker à la Buddy when you return home. Of course, separation anxiety causes the most distress for the dog in question, but it can also cause dog owners to feel guilty or upset about leaving their dogs at home to run errands.
What Should Be Done Before Departures
Before any lengthy departure, provide a vigorous session of play and exercise. This not only helps to reduce some of your dogâs energy and tire her out, but also provides a period of attention. A training session can also be a productive way to further interact and âworkâ with your dog. For the final 15 to 30 minutes before departure, your dog should be ignored. It would be best if your dog were taken to her rest and relaxation area with a radio, TV, or video playing . You can then prepare for departure while your dog is out of sight and earshot. At this point, provide your dog with some new motivating toys to keep her occupied and distracted before and during your departure. The key is to avoid as many of the departure cues as possible, so that your dogâs anxiety doesnât heighten before you leave. Brushing teeth, changing into work clothes, or collecting keys, purse, briefcase or school books, are all routines that might be able to be performed out of sight of the dog. You might also consider changing clothes at work, preparing and packing a lunch the night before, or even leaving the car at a neighbor’s so your dog wouldn’t hear the car pulling out of the driveway.
“Avoid saying goodbye since this will only serve to bring attention to the departure.”
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Deactivating Your Dogs Pack Instincts
Canine separation anxiety can be resolved by deactivating your dogs urge to follow you and training them to settle down and relax instead.
This can be achieved with a process known as desensitization and counterconditioning, which targets changing how your dog responds to stimuli by exposing them to it at a sub-threshold level, meaning that the exposure happens at a tolerable intensity.
Within the context of resolving canine separation anxiety, this can be done by systematically exposing your dog to their triggers in brief, but tolerable increments that make it easy for your dog to respond by settling down.
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.
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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.
Can Separation Anxiety Be Prevented
Have you been working from home and will now be going into an office, or spent the last month or so on holidays, or spent the last couple of weeks settling a new pet into your home? If you have been your pets constant companion but wont be, it may leave your pooch confused and at risk of developing separation anxiety. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prepare your pet for this change. Here are our top tips to help your pet adjust to their new routine:
- Slowly start implementing your new routine. Our pets thrive on routines, so gradual adjustments will lessen the shock once you arent at home constantly.
- Get them use to being at home without you. Try introducing short periods of separation a few times a day.
- Allow your pet to have their alone time as this will also help them to feel secure when they are left alone for long periods of time. Try setting them up in a safe and comfortable room separate to yourself for periods of time.
- Try not to give your pet more attention than what theyll receive when you are no longer constantly there.
- Encourage playtime without you.
- Avoid making a fuss when leaving or coming home. Try to ignore your pooch 15 minutes before you leave, and for the first few minutes when you return before greeting your pooch calmly.
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Playing It Cool And Limit Attention
Be like the Fonz and act cool! Limit the attention you give your dog before you leave the house or when you return home. This will send a clear message to your dog that your absence is not a big deal.
Teach your furry friend how to be on their own by training them to stay.
The best way to do this is to start with short periods, like a couple of minutes. Then as your dog gets used to it, increase the time, soon youll be away for 10 mins, 20min, or even an hour. If your dog can stay on their own for this length of time, it wont be long before theyll be comfortable in their own company for 3 or 4 hours.
When you return home, dont make a big deal, remember to play it cool. Dont flap about squeaking at your dog in a high-pitched voice like a chipmunk on helium. This just gets them excited.
Keep your behavior neutral and calm. Avoid eye contact, excessive touching, or talking. Before long, your dog will be accustomed to you leaving the house and returning.
If you are having trouble not being affectionate to your furry friend before leaving the house, try being affectionate earlier. If you make a fuss of your dog long before you go out, they wont associate it with your impending absence.
Try Not To Leave Alone
If your beagle is suffering from severe separation anxiety, then try your best to ensure they are not left alone completely .
They do need to learn that being on their own is not so bad, but this takes time and a lot of patience.
Training a beagle to be independent is extremely difficult if they are still experiencing high levels of distress, so rehabilitation needs to be planned carefully for a successful outcome.
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Incontinence Caused By Medical Problems
Urinary incontinence in dogs is a medical condition where a dog voids its bladder uncontrollably. Its not uncommon for dogs with incontinence to be unaware that they have soiled themself. This can happen when they are excited or even sleeping. There are many medical issues that can cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Some of these include: kidney disease, bladder stones, neurological problems, abnormalities of the genitalia, urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, and hormone problems after being spayed. Check with your veterinarian to rule out these issues before starting behavioral treatment for separation anxiety.