Separation anxiety is a dog’s fear of being left alone without you. If your dog has separation anxiety issues, your dog may panic when he or she is left alone, causing specific undesirable behavior.
Many behaviors that occur when your dog is left to his own devices are sometimes incorrectly attributed to separation anxiety. Truthfully, habits like chewing on things they shouldn’t or destroying an entire dog bed when no one is looking are mostly the result of boredom, and not true separation anxiety.
What are the signs of separation anxiety?
Some of the signs of a dog with separation anxiety include:
- Whining, barking or howling when you are not at home.
- Destructive behavior that is targeted towards doors and windows (like chewed door frames or broken window screens) as if the dog was desperately trying to leave the house.
- A dog that is over-hyper when you return home for the day or are getting ready to leave the house for the day.
- Going to the bathroom in the house even though the dog is housebroken.
- Following you around the house wherever you go, like a shadow.
What causes separation anxiety?
There is no one cause for separation anxiety, and the initial cause can be different from dog to dog. A stressful new situation at home (such as a new addition to the family, someone has left the home or you’ve moved) is a common cause. Traumatizing events such as an experience staying several days at the vet or in a kennel where the dog was away from you for a long period of time can also be a major cause of separation anxiety issues.
How can you work together with your dog to curb separation anxiety?
There are many types of fun training exercises and other things you can do with and for your dog that will help curb separation anxiety.
If you leave the television or radio on to create background noise for your dog, it may simulate regular household activity and make it seem less like the house is quiet and empty. Don’t leave it too loud, and keep it on something relatively easy going.
Work on sit and stay with your dog while you’re standing in front of him. Eventually, have him stay while you leave the room and see if he can tolerate it for longer and longer periods of time.
Make leaving and coming home un-eventful. People who have dogs with separation anxiety may spend time reassuring their dog before they leave the house for the day, or make a big deal out of coming home to their dog. Instead, try ignoring the dog and only giving him a slight acknowledgement before you leave and once you come home.
We may not realize it, but we tend to go through the same motions every single time we get ready to leave the house – put on your shoes, grab a jacket, make sure your keys are in your pocket, etc. You dog is definitely noticing these behaviors, and during this time he knows you’re about to leave and the anxiety only builds and builds. Instead, try either switching up your getting-ready routine completely or going through the exact same motions but not even leaving the house.
Does your dog have separation anxiety? What kind of things does your dog do when you’re away? Have you tried any of the exercises above?
Posted by Heather Rose / From EarthRated.com