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What To Do When Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Intense Pacing Or Circling

Cesar Explains How To Fix Separation Anxiety With Your Dog

Another common indication your dog might have an issue is if they continue restlessly pacing or going in circles when theyre alone, so much that youre worried theyll wear away their paws. This anxiety symptom is most frequent with dogs that spend their alone time in small or enclosed spaces, like crates or cramped rooms, as well as with furballs that usually have problems with obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Leave A ‘special’ Toy

In addition to making sure that your dog has exciting things to do when you’re not with them, also give your dog a long-lasting chew such as a stuffed ‘kong’ toy, a meat-flavoured chew or a treat ball or cube to occupy their time.

Make sure that they enjoy using it when you’re there. If your dog then doesn’t use it when you’re not there, this may be a sign that your dog is worried when you’re out.

Remember to take any food treats out of your pet’s daily food allowance to avoid overfeeding.

Rule Out Medical Problems

Before you begin treating a dog with separation anxiety, always have your dog thoroughly evaluated for medical issues first, especially if theres a sudden onset of symptoms.

  • Medications. There are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. For example, diuretics and steroids cause increased thirst. This leads to increased urination and can cause your pup to accidentally urinate in the house. If your dog takes any medications, please contact your veterinarian to find out whether or not they might be contributing to these problems.

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Submissive Or Excitement Urination

Some dogs may pee during greetings, play-time, during physical contact or when being reprimanded or punished. These dogs tend to display submissive postures, such as holding their tail low, flattening their ears back against their head, or rolling over and exposing their bellies. Dog body language is, in this case, an indicator of a personality type and not stress.

Prepare To Monitor Your Dog For 20 Minutes

Why do Dogs have Separation Anxiety

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.

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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.

Greetings And Departures Should Be Kept Separate

Few friends are likely to welcome us with the same zeal as our pets. A wagging tail, a wiggling body, and joyous enthusiasm woofs are likely to make most pet parents feel really missed and cherished by their canine companion.However, each time you enter your house and interact with your dog while he or she is in the midst of this canine love fest, you are reinforcing or rewarding your dog for an outburst of joy at seeing you, as well as relief from their time without you.

If only for the fact that they must be spending some of their time in eager anticipation of the happy fest that will ensue when you walk through the door, doing so makes time spent without you that much harder for your dog to bear the next time you leave .When you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first five minutes. Dont say anything, pet them, talk to them, or even look them in the eyes. Although it may appear overwhelming, separation anxiety is a serious issue that demands kind but firm love to overcome. You dont have to be concerned about hurting your dogs feelings.

If you make a big fuss as you leave, your dog is likely to pick up on your agitation and react appropriately, especially if your dog has separation anxiety. Consider leaving the home in the same way that you would leave a room. In the latter, you wouldnt try to comfort your dog, so dont try it in the former.

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How To Tell If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety Top Signs

Dog separation anxiety can be tough to deal with. If you can diagnose it early and know how to treat it, it can be manageable.

Your dog gets agitated when you leave the house and come home to a house full of destruction could it be dog separation anxiety? It really depends. Figuring out if your dog has separation anxiety involves analyzing the situation and observing it over time.

You will also need to have an understanding of what qualifies as separation anxiety. Lets take a deeper dive into this common condition in pets.

Making Sure Your Dog Is Ready To Be Left Alone

What To Do About Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

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.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety In Dogs

Dogs are pack animals, and, as such, they adore being around people. The problem is, some dogs love companionship so much that theyll exhibit anxiety symptoms as soon as theyre left alone.

Its not always easy distinguishing if your pooch is just mischievous or if they are exhibiting dog stress symptoms.

So, what are the most common signs of separation anxiety in dogs that you need to pay attention to?

How To Stop A Dog From Chewing And Digging

  • To be most effective, combine daily exercise, deterrent sprays, and stimulating toys. Even if the exercise doesnt tire out your dog enough for him to leave your valuables alone, the specific smell of the deterrent will stop them in their tracks! Additionally, having an interesting toy to keep them occupied cant hurt.
  • Dog-proof your home or yard. Use a crate or a pet fence to keep them away from the places where they can make some damage.
  • Puzzles, chew toys, and chewable treats will redirect your furballs destructive behavior to an appropriate victim. Stock up on the right supplies and your shoes, carpets, and sofas will be safe!

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For More Serious Cases Of Separation Anxiety:

Youll need to help your dog get used to your absence through systematic dog separation anxiety training, also called desensitization or counter-conditioning. Please note, this training is complex and an experienced professional can help. Look for a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to help you with the training.

These steps briefly describe desensitization and counter-conditioning steps:

  • Work on pre-departure cues. Your dog may see subtle cues that youre leaving and start getting anxious about being left alone. Teach your dog that when you pick up your keys or put on your coat it doesnt always mean youre leaving. You can practice exposing them to these cues in various orders several times a day without leaving.
  • Move on to graduated departures and absences. Begin frequent and short separations behind a closed door and increase the time in small increments. As your dog is tolerating you being on the other side of the door, increase the amount of time youre gone. Remember, your return must be low-key. Gradually build up the time until you can leave the house for a few minutes. Then stay away for longer and longer periods of time.

You must proceed very gradually until your dog shows no signs of distress. At any point, if your actions produce an anxiety response in your dog, youve proceeded too fast.


No Touch No Talk No Eye Contact

Crate Training Separation Anxiety

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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Simulated Vs True Dog Separation Anxiety

There is true separation anxiety, and there is simulated separation anxiety, in which the dog behavior appears to be separation anxiety but it is, in fact, a learned behavior.

Simulated separation anxiety is often manifested when the dog lacks leadership as well as self-control. True separation anxiety, on the other hand, causes the dog to experience real stress during the absence of his owner.

In simulated separation anxiety, the dog knows that he will get attention if he acts badly. For some dogs, even being verbally reprimanded for such behavior is rewarding because he feels he was noticed.

Negative attention can be a reward in many cases, if the owner is unaware that certain needs of his dog are not being met. In these cases, there is little real stress involved, just misbehavior.

Simulated separation anxiety is fairly easy to overcome with a gradual approach, slowly increasing the amount of time spent in a cratewhen you are at home as well as awayconsistent obedience training, proper amounts of exercise, and strong leadership.

Severe cases of true separation anxiety impose a challenge to Pack Leaders.

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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All Dogs Experience Frustration When First Left Alone

Most dogs prefer to have company, but learn to relax and nap when left alone. Dogs with separation anxiety, however, experience panic when left alone and are in genuine distress.

While many dogs feel some level of frustration when left alone, certain dogs express it through various behaviors such as chewing, soiling in the house, howling, barking, and whining or attempts to escape confinement.

These are all behaviors that a young puppy or new rescue dog may exhibit when first experiencing being left alone or in confinement for the first timebut if they do not subside as time goes by and only increase in intensity, then a home-alone/confinement-related anxiety disorder is generally in the making.

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Does Pavlov Ring A Bell Use Classical Conditioning To Create Positive Associations With Being Alone

Does your dog have separation anxiety? WATCH THIS
  • Prepare a yummy and long-lasting food puzzle or work-to-eat toy . This should be something they dont get very often something super valuable in your dogs opinion.
  • Right before you walk out the door, give this special treat to your dog in their crate or long-term confinement area.
  • Keep your absences very short when you begin classically conditioning your dog to being alone. Try to return before they finish their food puzzle the first few times you do this you dont have to completely leave the house at first, just be out of sight. Taking the trash out or walking to the mailbox are great opportunities to practice this exercise.
  • When you return home, immediately remove their yummy puzzle or work-to-eat toy and put it away.
  • Gradually increase the length of time youre absent.
  • Your dog is learning that your leaving predicts something delicious appearing and they get to enjoy something positive while alone. Theyre also learning that that yummy thing disappears when you come back.

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How Can I Teach My Dog To Accept My Departures

Formal retraining should be directed at teaching your dog to remain on his mat, in his bed, or in his crate or den area, for progressively longer periods of time. You may need to begin with food lure exercises, starting with a down-stay and gradually increasing the time and the level of relaxation at each session. Once your dog will stay in your presence, begin to walk away and return, beginning with just a few feet for a few seconds and progressing over time to leaving the room for 30 minutes or longer. Reward with a quiet play or attention session, perhaps coming back and giving a gentle massage or tummy rub. In this way the desired behavior is being shaped and reinforced with the very attention that the dog craves. Remember however, that attention at other times, especially on demand, encourages the dog to follow and pester rather than stay in his bed and relax. A head halter can be particularly useful throughout this training to ensure that your dog remains in position and immediately responds to the command.

Diagnosing Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Once a diagnosis of separation anxiety has been made, your veterinarian will try to determine the underlying cause. This is especially important if the cause is medical in nature, as your dog could be suffering from a severe condition. Diagnosing the underlying cause will also help during treatment, as most treatment options involve behavior modification on behalf of both dogs and owners. However, this process can take time, as in many cases the cause may not be immediately evident. Your veterinarian will likely recommend blood work possibly diagnostic imaging. They may even refer you to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

Diagnosing separation anxiety in dogs is dependent on clinical signs. If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with separation anxiety, he or she will then attempt to find the underlying cause of the condition, which can take time.

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Possible Separation Anxiety Triggers

  • Change of owner or family. Being abandoned, surrendered to a shelter, or living with a new person or family can trigger separation anxiety.
  • Change in schedule. An abrupt change in schedule is another common reason for dogs developing separation anxiety.
  • Change in residence.Moving to a new home can be a shock to a dog, resulting in separation anxiety.
  • Change in household membership. The sudden absence of a resident family member can lead to the onset of separation anxiety.

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