How To Treat Separation Anxiety
Mild separation anxiety may be treated with training alongside a calming supplement such as CBD oil. Moderate to severe separation anxiety may require a visit to a veterinarian who may prescribe a mild sedative to help your dog relax.
If youre not familiar with the training needed to treat separation anxiety, its recommended to work with an experienced trainer or canine behaviorist who can help you manage and adjust your dogs anxious behavior.
When working with a dog with separation anxiety, its important to understand what your companion is going through. Anxiety is not the result of a spiteful or disobedient pet, its a sign of distress.
The behaviors your dog displays when anxious are his or her ways of coping and any scolding or punishment can actually make the problem worse.
How To Choose The Best Products For Dog With Separation Anxiety
It’s important to choose the right products for your dog with separation anxiety. There are a lot of products on the market, and it can be overwhelming to try to figure out which ones are the best.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re choosing products for your dog with separation anxiety:
Make sure the product is specifically designed for dogs with separation anxiety.There are a lot of products on the market that are designed to help dogs with other issues, such as barking or chewing. But these products won’t necessarily help your dog with separation anxiety.
Look for products that have been recommended by a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. These experts can help you figure out which products are most likely to be effective for your dog.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, read reviews of the products to see what other dog owners have to say about them.
Keep these things in mind and you’ll be sure to find the best products for your dog with separation anxiety.
Why Does Exercise Help Calm Down An Anxious Dog
Exercise is a great way to release pent-up energy and calm an anxious dog. It tires them out both mentally and physically, which can help reduce their anxiety. A tired dog is a relaxed dog, after all.
You dont have to go on long hikes or runs to tire out your pup even a short walk around the block can help. If your dog is particularly anxious, try some calming exercises like yoga or swimming.
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What Medications Help Dogs With Separation Anxiety
Dogs with severe forms of separation anxiety require meds. However, not all anti-anxiety medications are safe and efficient for dogs.
If looking at how to treat separation anxiety in dogs with medications, choose some of the following options:
- Alprazolam Anxiety type: Moderate to severe situational anxietyAlprazolam is given to dogs who face anxiety during thunderstorms. However, it might be used for other types of situational anxiety too. It is a mild sedative belonging to the benzodiazepine class. It is most impactful when given during early-stage anxiety and is available in tablets that can be given with or without food.
- Amitriptyline Anxiety Type: Separation anxiety and generalized anxiety Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that works by increasing the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, thus improving the dogs mood. It is available as tablets and can be given with or without food. The med is not suited for dogs with diabetes. Discontinuation requires tapering off.
- Buspirone Anxiety Type: Generalized anxietyBuspirone is the perfect medicine for dogs who become anxious in social situations. The med. It belongs to the azaperone class of anxiolytics and has a mild anti-anxiety effect that works by activating the serotonin receptors in the dogs brain. The downside of the drug is that it needs to be used consistently.
Encourage Your Dog To Be Independent
If your dog is especially anxious and struggles to be away from you even for short periods of time, you can work on teaching them to settle on their own. Teaching them this will help your dog become more independent in themselves and will help with further training in the future.
To do this, fill a food toy such as a KONG and place it by your feet while you are watching TV. Do this regularly over the space of a few weeks and gradually place it further away from you each time. This will teach your dog to settle down and engage in activities without you. When your dog is occupied with the food you should still go in and out of the room as normal.
If you are able, installing baby gates throughout the house will allow you to move from room to room without your dog always being able to follow. This will help in training your dog to remain calm when you are not nearby and can sometimes help by showing them that you are still in the house. You could also try scattering a few bits of your dogs daily allowance of dry food on the floor when you leave a room, which will provide them with a distraction.
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Does My Dog Have Separation Anxiety
Many of the behaviors that are attributed to separation anxiety can have alternate diagnoses that are medical or behavioral.
For example, excessive drooling might be caused by a fractured tooth or nausea barking could be a response to a territorial threat and accidents might mean that the dog isnt fully house-trained.
In order to determine how to treat separation anxiety in dogs, pet parents should first schedule a veterinary exam to rule out illness or behavioral reasons for the responses.
Leaving Your Dog To ‘crying It Out’ Means Suffering In Silence
Some dog training guides may suggest letting a dog ‘cry it out’. This technique, whilst practised widely, is neurologically damaging. Here’s why:
- Dogs and puppies left to cry it out will only learn that being alone is terrifying.
- Every time your dog becomes highly distressed, stress hormones occur in the body which can take days to reduce. This can cause negative, long-term effects on your dog’s body and mental state.
- Some will sadly learn that calling for their owner to come back doesn’t work, so they learn to suffer in silence.
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How To Handle A More Severe Problem
Use the techniques outlined above along with desensitization training. Teach your dog the sit-stay and down-stay commands using positive reinforcement. This training will help them learn that they can remain calmly and happily in one place while you go to another room.
Exercise and mental stimulation are critical to reducing anxiety and stress. Be sure your dog receives adequate exercise before you leave. Walking the same city block each day wont reduce anxiety, but sniffing and exploring new places will.
Create a “safe place” to limit your dog’s ability to be destructive while youre away. A safe place should:
- Confine the dog loosely .
- Contain busy toys for distraction.
- Have dirty laundry to lend a calming scent cue or other safety cues.
How Does Cbd Affect Dogs
Researchers in the United States and overseas have examined the use of CBD to treat an array of conditions in dogs, including osteoarthritis pain, seizures caused by intractable idiopathic epilepsy, and noise-induced fear. CBD has been found to be effective for the treatment of arthritis, with limited success in treating seizures and behavioral issues. It was also found to be well tolerated with minimal to no side effects in many studies.
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Build Your Dogs 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.
Never Punish Your Dog
If your dog does something undesirable whilst you’re out, it’s important you don’t show any signs of disapproval. Raising your voice or showing your disappointment might scare your dog and make the situation worse.
Your dog will become anxious about what you’ll do when you return the next time you go out, making the behaviour worse.
Dogs who’ve been told off may lower their head, put their ears back and put their tail between their legs. Sadly, owners often think that their dog looks guilty when they do this and so tell them off thinking they know they’ve done wrong.
However, 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. If you do come home to a mess, it’s essential not to physically punish or shout at your dog.
Top tip: Try to avoid even letting your dog see that you’re annoyed – let them outside before cleaning up.
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How To Treat Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Even in cases of medically induced separation anxiety, however, behavior modification is critical for successful treatment. Consulting a trainer or a behavioral specialist recommended by your veterinarian can help you create a plan for treating your dogs condition. Common steps include increasing exercise and play, encouraging independence, ignoring attention-seeking behaviors and encouraging calm behaviors, adjusting arrival and departure habits to reduce stress, and ceasing punishment, as punishment is ineffective and only increases your dogs stress levels.
Treating separation anxiety takes time, and some dogs never learn to reliably comfort themselves. During the training process, consider using alternative measures like pet sitters, doggy daycare centers, or making arrangements to take your dog with you whenever possible.
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.
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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.
Natural Remedies For Dog Anxiety
Take your dogs mind off the fact that you left and keep them entertained with this puzzle mat. Use this mat to hide treats or food in, getting Fido to interact and get to the treats however they can a fun, easy way to also help with your dogs anxiousness.
If your dog has mild separation anxiety, another good idea is to give him a bone or something to occupy their time. Fill their Kong with peanut butter, or freeze the Kong with peanut butter inside to ensure theyll be busy for longer. By giving your dog a bone, it may help him keep his mind off the fact that that hes been left alone. If none of these remedies work, some owners have found they need to take their dog with them to work, come home during lunch hours, or even find a sitter for the dog while theyre away.
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Other Behavior Problems To Rule Out
Sometimes its difficult to determine whether a dog has separation anxiety or not. Some common behavior problems can cause similar symptoms. Before concluding that your dog has separation anxiety, its important to rule out the following behavior problems:
Submissive or Excitement UrinationSome dogs may urinate during greetings, play, physical contact or when being reprimanded or punished. Such dogs tend to display submissive postures during interactions, such as holding the tail low, flattening the ears back against the head, crouching or rolling over and exposing the belly.
Incomplete House TrainingA dog who occasionally urinates in the house might not be completely house trained. His house training might have been inconsistent or it might have involved punishment that made him afraid to eliminate while his owner is watching or nearby.
Urine MarkingSome dogs urinate in the house because theyre scent marking. A dog scent marks by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces. Most male dogs and some female dogs who scent mark raise a leg to urinate.
Juvenile DestructionMany young dogs engage in destructive chewing or digging while their guardians are home as well as when theyre away. Please see our articles, Destructive Chewing, for more information about these problems.
BoredomDogs need mental stimulation, and some dogs can be disruptive when left alone because theyre bored and looking for something to do. These dogs usually dont appear anxious.
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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Consult With A Trainer Or Animal Behavioral Specialist
If a veterinarian has determined that your dog has no underlying health issues and may have separation anxiety, Basinger recommends consulting with a trainer “so that they could have a consultation that’s based on the specifics of their lifestyle, where they live, and their dog’s specific behavior.” There’s a lot of information out there, so rather than having to parse through all of it, she said, “Find a person that they trust to talk through it and come up with a plan. That way, they’re really getting the attention that they need for their particulars.”
While the pandemic may have contributed to a rise in separation anxiety, it doesn’t have to inhibit its treatment. “Many professionals are still offering services virtually during this time,” said Loyer, “and luckily separation anxiety is one behavior challenge that lends itself well to virtual coaching.”
There’s no legal requirement for dog trainers to be certified, but there are several highly reputable qualifications that can help you parse out the good from the bad. Listing all the different certifications here would be like alphabet soup, but as a rule of thumb, look for a trainer that is certified in canine behavior consulting or has a good track record with testimonials from clients.
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.
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How Do Your Emotions Impact Your Dog
As with any behavioural modification to help your dogs find ultimate happiness the key is to change you first. Be mindful of how your emotions, thoughts, and movements are being deciphered by your dogs.
How you are has a massive impact on your dogs health and happiness. Being mindful of how you are even when not engaging with your dog is super important to their health and happiness.
Eyes In The Sky: Videotaping Alone Time
With advances in technology, we have a variety of ways to watch pets who are home alone. For a potential separation-related issue, its vital to recommend that the client have video and camera accessibility to the pet during departures. Not only can we evaluate the pets distress levels during departures, but this can be an important tool for the veterinarian in determining a diagnosis. We may find that the patient is not always distressed during departures and that an outside stimulus is causing the dog to panic. The veterinarian would diagnose and treat this problem very differently.
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