Tip of the Month

5/22/2014 When Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Dog Separation Anxiety Tips
Separation anxiety is one of the most difficult problem behaviors to address. It is also extremely hard to witness. Not only is it a problem for the owner, but the dog is affected negatively as well. The levels of separation anxiety vary greatly, as do the symptoms. It is important to treat the anxiety as soon as possible, as your dog could potentially hurt himself.

Separation Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Barking or howling: This could be a symptom if the barking or howling is not triggered by any other stimuli.

  • Chewing or digging: Some dogs will chew or dig at doorways when left alone. This could result in injuries such as broken teeth or nails.
  • Escaping: This could occur when your dog is left alone. He might try to dig at or escape through windows. This is another time where the result can be broken nails or scraped paws.

  • Pacing: If you notice that your dog is pacing in a specific pattern, this might be the result of separation anxiety.

Note: If your dog is doing any of the above behaviors when you are present, the cause could be something other than separation anxiety.
To solve the issue of separation anxiety, you must be patient. It is a long process that takes dedication and understanding.

Crate For Comfort

One of the basic tools you can use is a crate. The crate serves as a “den” for your dog and should be a place where he feels comfortable. You need to desensitize your dog to his crate and make it an enjoyable place for him to be. Provide him with a stuffed Kong and plenty of chew toys when he’s crated. This will give your dog a comfortable place for him to go while you are not at home.

Homecoming Desensitization

If you are like many people, you probably give your dog a lot of attention when you get home. However, you might not realize that this could be the cause of your dog’s anxiety. It is important to not make your coming and going a big deal. You should ignore your dog for a few minutes prior to departing and when coming home. You can desensitize your dog to your leaving by going through your normal routine. Put on your shoes, pick up your keys and walk out the door. In the beginning, only leave for a few seconds, then come back in. Continue to do this while slowly increasing the time you are outside.

Background Noise

You could also play some music or leave the television on when you leave. This gives the dog the idea that he is not alone.

Be A Leader

It is also important that your dog feels that you are a strong leader. You should implement all the leadership exercises as explained in the tip “Leadership Exercises” under Canine Communication. If your dog knows you are his leader, he is less likely to feel anxious when he is alone.

We all know we cannot be with our four-legged friends all the time, but by employing these few tips, you can ensure your dog will be happy and healthy while you are away.

Reference: ASPCA.org

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