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.
Causes Of Separation Anxiety
- Shelters: If you adopted your puppy from a shelter, prior trauma in its life, abandonment, or otherwise, may cause separation anxiety.
- Trauma: Any single traumatic event while left alone is enough to trigger separation anxiety in puppies.
- Sudden life changes: Things that disrupt a puppy’s routine, like a new baby, divorce, or death, can give a puppy anxiety.
- Premature separation: Puppies who are separated from their litter prematurely are more likely to develop separation anxiety.
- Genetics: Sometimes, anxiety can be explained by genetics. Some puppies are just more anxiety-prone than others.
Are There Products You Can Buy To Help
Although training is the most effective method to reducing or extinguishing a dogs separation anxiety, there are many products that can help ease the process. Some of the most helpful products are those that are designed to keep the dogs time occupied while the owner is away. Some options are toys that dispense treats at random intervals, as well as treats that are time-consuming to chew. Stuffing a KONG toy with anything from frozen bananas to peanut butter is an effective way to occupy the dogs time. There are also sensory products available such as snug shirts to help comfort the dog while the owner is away.
If the anxiety is severe, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or veterinarian may recommend that the dog be given medication to help ease its symptoms. Anti-anxiety medication may even relieve the dogs symptoms without the need for additional behavioral therapy.
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Prepare To Monitor Your Dog For 20 Minutes
If you are not sure whether your dog has separation anxiety or not, set up a camera and monitor your dog for 20 minutes.
Symptoms will generally be evident immediately, so its a good idea stay nearby, but out of sight, either in another room or a few steps from your front door, in case you need to return to calm your dog down or prevent any destruction to your home.
If you found that after 15 – 20 minutes of confining your dog or leaving them at home alone that their stress symptoms persisted, then you most probably have a case of dog separation anxiety on your hands.
Dog Trainers & Behaviourists Specialising In Separation Anxiety Training
If your dog is approaching 6 months of age and youre having behavioral issues relating to severe separation anxiety. Seek the help of a qualified dog behaviourist or dog trainer who uses positive reinforcement. Dealing with an adolescent dog comes with its own set of struggles, ensure your puppy has good life skills before the rebellious teenage phase kicks in.
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Video Answer: Cesar Explains How To Fix Separation Anxiety With Your Dog
Dealing with in Dogs.
Your dog is showing signs of Separation Anxiety.
Because Dogs are social animals, it is not natural for them to be away from their social group for long periods of time.
However, most dogs can be left alone with no problems.
Not all dogs will respond as quickly as he has. I have a Basenji-Collie mix who also suffered from separation, thunderstorm and fireworks/nail gun anxiety. I did not follow as strict a regimen with her and she suffered with these anxieties for 12 years.
Remember You’re 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 that’s 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 dog’s separation anxiety doesn’t 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.”
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Making Sure Your Dog Is Ready To Be Left Alone
When you first get your dog, try to socialise them as much as possible. This means exposing them to everyday sights and sounds so they are not afraid. Being left alone is one of the things your new dog will need to learn is normal. You can train your dog by gradually increasing the amount of time they are left alone to get them used to it.
As with all training, youll need to take your time and be patient when teaching your puppy how to be calm and relaxed when left alone.
- Start by walking a short distance away from your puppy. If they stay calm and settled, walk back to them and reward them, so they know youre happy with this behaviour.
- Move away from them again, but this time leave the room briefly. Walk back in and if your puppy is still calm and quiet, reward again.
- Keep repeating this and gradually increase the amount of time you are away from your puppy.
- When youre successful at doing this inside, try leaving the house for a short time and gradually build up to spending more time away from your puppy.
- Always reward your puppy when you get home.
- Keep the atmosphere calm and quiet when you leave and when you come back home. This will teach your puppy that you coming and going is normal and nothing to get excited or stressed about.
- Teach your puppy to use interactive toys, like treat dispensing toys or puzzles, so theyll have something to keep them busy while youre away. Make sure its puppy-safe and cant be chewed up or swallowed.
Dont Beat Yourself Up
Lastly, were going to leave you with a very important tidbit of information, which is that separation anxiety isnt always preventable despite every effort and precaution you take. Some dogs are just prone to suffering from it and its something you have to deal with. The process can be long, and SA is definitely not something easy to treat, but know that you are not alone and it can be done.
If you are struggling and dont know how to approach the issue, a vet or animal behavior specialist will be able to help you.
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Where Do I Start
Before you can begin, be certain that your dog has a sufficiently enriched environment and a predictable daily routine . In addition, all rewards should be identified to ensure that they are only being given for those behaviors that you want to train and not for attention seeking or following. In other words, you should use the very rewards that your dog is seeking to teach independent behavior and to spend time relaxing away from you . Until you can get your dog to settle and relax while you are at home, he is unlikely to settle when you leave.
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.
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Puppy Separation Anxiety: What Is It
Separation anxiety is a catch-all term that describes feelings and behavior issues that occur with your dog when he is alone at home without you. Separation anxiety happens to both puppies and dogs but happens more often in puppies. It is a serious problem, and should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, many new dog owners dont take it seriously, then end up abandoning their new dog when they exhibit behavior problems at home.
The word anxiety gets tossed around liberally as a descriptor of any worries or uncomfortable feelings you may have. But anxiety is a real condition that affects the way both people and dogs feel and behave. Serious anxiety is much more than a mental condition it can manifest itself physically as well, affecting sleep, mood, appetite, and more. For dogs with separation anxiety, this can mean destructive behavior as well as emotional stress.
Dealing With Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety. This means that she is uncomfortable being left home alone. Because dogs are social animals, it is not natural for them to be away from their social group for long periods of time. However, most dogs can be left alone with no problems. Unfortunately your dog is not one of them and you will have to do some work in order to help her over her fear of being alone.
It is important for you to understand that your dog is being bad when she is alone because she is anxious. It is not due to spite or revenge. Because of this, punishing her for chewing the couch or soiling the rug will only make her more anxious. Recognize that she cant help the things she is doing and decide that you love her enough to put the time into helping her.
The program described below will help you teach your dog to be okay when she is alone. Have patience. It often takes several weeks or months for dogs to completely get over separation issues.
Crate training is an option, however, some dogs that are anxious when alone are more anxious in a crate. If you decide to crate train your dog make sure you put time into conditioning her to absolutely LOVE being in the crate before you leave her in there for the day.
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What You Can Do To Ease Your Puppys Separation Anxiety
If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, there are a variety of measures you can take to help him overcome his fears. Far too many owners abandon dogs because of separation anxiety. And while it can be difficult to deal with, you and your dog will be much happier if you overcome it together instead of abandoning him, which will make his anxiety far worse when he does find another home.
What Are The Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs can exhibit stress in many ways, so there is no one defining sign of SA. Instead, there are a variety of symptoms. One or two of them, especially if they only happen occasionally, may not be a sign of puppy separation anxiety. But if your puppy shows multiple symptoms on a regular basis, he may be suffering from SA. Here are some behaviors your dog may exhibit:
- Anxious behaviors like pacing, whining, or trembling while youre gone or as you prepare to leave.
- Excessive barking or howling.
- Destructive acts, such as chewing or digging, particularly around doors or windows.
- Accidents in the house urinating or defecating.
- Excessive salivation, drooling, or panting.
- Desperate and prolonged attempts to escape confinement, potentially ending in serious injury.
Sadly, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, several of the above symptoms are also some of the most common reasons owners get rid of their dogs. This is especially unfortunate because its an issue that can be treated by implementing a few simple but important tactics.
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Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Puppies
There are numerous symptoms that can indicate separation anxiety in a puppy, but remember, these only apply if your puppy exhibits them when youre preparing to leave or when youre not with them. If, for example, your puppy chews on the leg of your table all the time and not just when you leave them alone, there may be a different behavioral issue, such as teething, at play or perhaps a destructive phase in your puppys adolescence.
If youre aware that your puppy is anxious when youre gone but unsure how long it lasts or how severe their symptoms are, set up a video monitor. This way, you can keep tabs on exactly whats happening, when it begins, and how long it lasts every time you leave the house.
How to Help a Puppy With Separation Anxiety
The first step any pet parent should take when they suspect their dog or puppy has separation anxiety is to schedule a visit with their veterinarian. Many of the symptoms of separation anxiety, such as inappropriate urination and defecation, could also be signs of a medical issue.
The goal is to teach your puppy to enjoy spending some relaxing time alone and to remain calm when they experience the cues that currently cause them anxiety. With that in mind, try the following strategies.
Provide plenty of exercise and interaction when youre homeTired puppies arent just more likely to fall asleep when you leave, but they also tend to be less anxious in general. Fun, interactive brain games are also great to incorporate.
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Puppies And Dogs
Its unclear why some puppies are more prone to separation anxiety than others. McConnell theorizes there may be several reasons, including never previously being left alone and traumatic separation, such as would be seen in some abandoned shelter dogs. Even a single traumatic event in the owners absence, like the house being robbed, can lead to SA. Finally, she suggests that personality can play a role, with clingy dogs perhaps being more at risk than independent ones.
Other triggers to watch for involve life changes like a sudden switch in schedule, a move to a new house, or the sudden absence of a family member, whether its a divorce, a death in the family, or a child leaving for college. Recent research has even pointed to a lack of daily exercise as a possible cause. Because there are so many potential triggers for SA, its essential to work on prevention and start treatment at the first sign.
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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.
No Touch No Talk No Eye Contact
Dont make a big deal when you leave for the day or when you return. This way, you are communicating to your dog that the time apart is no big deal. Its just business as usual! Depending on the severity of the dogs anxiety, you may need to practice the rule for five minutes or up to an hour before you leave and when you get back.
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Leaving Your Dog Alone
Dog separation anxiety training begins with teaching your dog to be alone in a room, while youre still at home. Use a cue like stay to step out of the room for a short period, like five minutes. Use this technique to prolong this period to an hour or more. This way your dog gets used to the idea of being alone.
Encourage Your Pet To Relax During Their Independent Time
Try to take your dog for a walk before you’re due to go out so that they have the opportunity to go to the toilet and exercise. Return half an hour before you plan to leave and make sure they’re not hungry: you might feed them a small meal before you leave or leave a food toy – your dog will be much more inclined to relax!
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