You may have heard a fellow pet owner talk about separation anxiety of dogs, stating behaviors like whimpering and destroying items in your household when leaving are signs of this condition. However, this condition goes beyond those behaviors to truly be called a dog separation anxiety. It could be due to the lack of training for your dog.
What exactly is dog separation anxiety? According to American Kennel Club, dog separation anxiety is when your dog experiences high levels of stress from the moment you leave until you return home. This usually happens especially if the dog has bonded with their owner, who leave for long periods of time. They will exhibit behavior as if they were afraid of their surroundings. It is similar to what humans experience when they get panic attacks.
To distinguish dog separation anxiety from normal dog behavior, you must look for signs that indicate how serious it is.
Signs of Serious Dog Separation Anxiety
Before you start labeling making noises and making one to few mistakes when you leave as SA (Separation Anxiety), there several factors you have consider. You must understand that there are several ways that a dog can respond to stress. If they only show 1-2 signs, that may not be dog separation anxiety. After all, one behavior does not equate SA immediately.
If your dog that has separation anxiety will show these behaviors once they are left alone:
- Anxiously pacing, whining, howling or barking
- Trembling and shaking while you prepare to leave or when you leave
- Urinating or defecating indoors even when they are potty trained
- Excessive salivating, drooling, and panting
- Having destructive behavior which includes chewing and scratching at doors, windows, and floors even with toys present
- Desperately tries to escape
The signs should be not be shown in extreme, especially if you’re home. Normal dog behavior may exhibit some of these signs but a dog that has SA will exhibit most of these actions.
Although some say that some breeds are more prone to separation anxiety, it is still unclear why that is the case. However, there are several causes that may trigger this condition in the long run if not prevented early on. If you recognize those signs mentioned, here are the common mistakes that may have caused dog separation anxiety:
- Being left for long periods of time, when they are used to company or being around many people
- Sudden changes in routine and schedule with the owner and the family
- Changing of ownership
- Sudden change in living conditions (ie. Dropping off from home to a shelter or coming home from a shelter to a new home)
- Loss of a family member or owner
How to Deal With Separation Anxiety for Dog?
Do not worry if your dog may have separation anxiety, there are plenty of ways to soothe and calm your dog. It’s important to teach your dog the importance of independence and being comfortable being on their own when you’re not around. It may be because of how you respond to your dogs that may have helped trigger it. Here are some methods that may help with dog separation anxiety:
- Create a Positive Crate Environment
Let your dog be comfortable in the crate as their own personal space, surrounded by items that enjoy rather than what stresses them out. Put their favourite toys with them next to their preferred pet bed. Do not leave them in there for long periods of time and make sure to monitor their behavior while they are inside. Start with a few minutes and gradually increase the time when you leave them alone.
- Practice Leaving for Short Periods of Time
Let your dog be comfortable with being left alone. Dogs are usually receptive to our behaviors and will associate our actions with the next thing. Practice trying to leave quietly without giving them attention or change up the routine so they won’t know what to expect. Quietly leave them, but be sure to do it for a short period of time. Once they get used it, you may gradually extend the length of how long you can leave them behind.
- Play and Exercise with Them
Playing and getting exercise with your dog will help prevent dog separation anxiety. It’s a great activity to keep them happy and entertained while keeping them stress-free. Make sure to engage them with walks, runs, games, and other fun activities.
- Don’t Let Them Become Too Clingy
Don’t let them follow you everywhere too much – even in the bathroom. Reinforce positive training by teaching them to stay in place for short periods of time until they get used to being left alone on their own. Avoid excessive greeting when you come home to them but rather, greet them quietly and calmly.
- Avoid Punishments
If you come home to pee marks, defecate tracks, or broken furniture, do not punish them. Doing so will only worsen their anxiety and stress.
- Visit your Vet for Medications and Supplements
Sometimes training and positive reinforcement isn’t enough, be sure to consult with your veterinarian for recommendations on medications and natural supplements.
How to Stop The Issue of Dog Separation Anxiety?
Giving your dog their favourite treas isn’t enough to stop dog separation anxiety. Since they are so used to your presence around them, slowly putting some distance between you and your dog will help lessen the anxiety. Increase the time you leave them behind once they get used to it. Make sure to monitor their behavior completely and to give them enough attention without being too excessive on it.
There is no sure way to completely stop dog separation anxiety even with all the trainings and remedies. If the dog separation anxiety is severe, it is best to consult with you veterinarian. They can suggest other ways to treat dog separation anxiety such as prescribing anti-anxiety meds or helping with modifying behavioral plan to practice on your dog.
Dog separation anxiety is when your dog becomes too stressed when left alone on their own that they start exhibiting destructive behavior, excessively drooling, constant barking or howling, and leaving urine and defacate when you’re not around. To help prevent dog separation anxiety from worsening, train them on independence, practice positive reinforcement, slowly allow them to get used to being left alone, avoid actions that have caused it, and avoid stressful situations. If it becomes severe, you may consult with the veterinarian for ways to treat the condition.