Pragmatic Techniques to Stop Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- Ronald Grint
- Reading Time: 4 minutes
Animal Behaviorists point out that dog separation anxiety is a real thing for many homes. Your dog starts acting nervously whenever he notices you in an outfit that indicates your departure. Pet parents often fail to accept it after experiencing a few disastrous incidents. This is one of the biggest reasons that contribute to dogs ending up in a shelter. So, what challenges do dog separation anxiety bring? Let’s check those out.
What is dog separation anxiety?
It refers to dog stress whenever he is left alone. If the dog is intimately attached to a person, his temporary departure can spell disaster on the mind of the canine fella. Such a situation leads to destructive and disruptive behavior including defecating, urinating, pacing, trembling, whining, endlessly barking, salivating, drooling, panting, coprophagia or eating poop, chewing, howling, digging holes and even escape attempts.
In such situations, you might think that the dog lacks house manners training. In fact, the truth goes much deeper as these are the signs of his mental distress. You cannot rule out these behaviors as simple mischief in case it happens in regular intervals under certain conditions.
Which conditions do contribute to dog separation anxiety?
There are several factors paving the way to this problem. Now, we are going to analyze those.
01. Left all by himself
02. Shortage of physical activities
03. Change of guardian Death or absence of a family member
04. Change in residence such as getting into a new home away from the shelter
05. Velcro dogs are more likely to go through separation anxiety
06. Dramatic alterations in family schedule
Medical conditions such as incontinence does not belong to this list of conditions. In such a case, the dog is quite unaware of an accident that he is causing as it loosens his control over the bladder. They will urinate even when they are asleep. Certain medications also lead to unintentional potty incidents.
What is an actionable remedy for these dogs?
There are several steps that you need to undertake based on the gravity of the situation. In general, make your exit and entrance as normal looking as possible. Do not give him a conspicuous window of opportunity as you return home. Especially, lavish greetings and praises at these moments will send him a bad message. Pay little attention to its whining and whimpering as you enter home.
Over a period of time, the dog will recover from this condition. On top of that, you can arrange some puzzle or food disbursing toys such as the Kong for the dog. So, he will remain busy while you are about to leave. It will occupy his mind for hours. Making these toys available to him all day does not bode well though. You will spare these fancy items only at the time of your departure. Sleeping with the dog gets him further down the line of trouble. So, let him sleep in his bed.
However, if the situation is grave there are some serious steps to consider.
Desensitization is a great remedy for this concern. Gradually, build up the dog for him to stay all by himself. At the initial stage, get into an outfit as if you are going out and make it to the outside leaving the dog alone. Then, re-enter home within a minute or so. Extensively make use of the ‘stay’ cue. Praise the dog and give treats if he follows through your command by remaining calm. The dog will get accustomed to your going out and you can slowly increase the time that you are spending out. Thus at some point, your puppy will stop minding your business away from home.
Crate training must be introduced at its puppyhood. This is an outstanding method to prepare the puppy for a lonely time. But a little one must not be kept inside for more than 4-5 minutes. Again, you have to increase his time inside the crate over the course of a certain period. An adult dog can spend even 9 hours inside a cage without making a fuss about it. But you need to give him breaks at times. Otherwise, he will soil the crate. In the end, the dog will start enjoying his time alone. But make a comfy environment inside the crate with toys and treats. Most importantly, do not leave him inside of the box all day everyday as it will further complicate his condition. You can effectively resort to dog crate for separation anxiety.
Exercise should be a part of his daily routine. As they say, a tired dog is a good dog. Running, swimming, walking, hiking, trailing, hunting, scent work and million other ways are there to keep your dog occupied in his own business. Give him a job to accomplish. Hide his treats and let him find it out. Get him into a busy schedule so that he cannot spare extra energy to focus on your activities. Challenge him to both physically and mentally stimulating actions. Exercise sessions will ease the treatment of this condition if not cure it.
Vet or Animal Behaviorist suggestions
Proper vet suggestions are vital in an extreme situation. They often ask you to take resort to medications. These are mainly depression related treatment for the dog.
Dog separation anxiety is not to be ignored in any way. You cannot prevent it by imparting a sound training. This feeling of distress may creep up at any time to your dog. Make your dog as independent as possible so that he can handle his things for a few hours or days without your presence. If separation anxiety takes a strong foothold on your puppy, it will be quite a task for you to remove it. Do not get upset as most of the time a proper set of actions will successfully lift the puppy out of this phenomenon.