What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a condition that causes dogs to display panic symptoms in reaction to being left alone. Separation anxiety is marked by panic so intense, that once the owner is gone, the dog tends to display destructive behavior. Destructive behaviors commonly involve digging and scratching near windows or doors in attempt to escape and find their owner, chewing on things in order to direct their anxiety, or barking or whining in effort to get their owner.
How to Help Your Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety
Before attempting to overcome separation anxiety with your dog, it is important to note that yelling, punishing, or ignoring your do when it exhibits such behavior will not solve the problem. Punishing and yelling will worsen the situation by increasing the dog’s overall anxiety, and combine it with fear of the owner. Here are some helpful tips to aid your dog in overcoming separation anxiety:
Use basic obedience training in order to set yourself up as a caring and trustworthy Alpha. Once this is done, it will be easier for your pet to understand that you’ll be leaving the house without feeling anxious. A good program to follow is the “no free lunch” training program.
Exercise! Make sure that your dog gets plenty of time for exercise and play each day. Stored-up energy can turn into nervous energy once your dog is alone.
Change up Departure Routine. Dogs can sense that you are about to leave by cues such as putting on shoes or gathering keys and purses. Try changing up your departure routine or doing some of these routines without leaving to desensitize your dog to these cues.
Pet Fido Once he is Calm. Do not give your dog excessive amounts of attention upon arriving home. This includes constant touching/petting, babying fearful behavior, or giving overexcited greetings when arriving home from an absence. Reward the dog with attention only once it has calmed down.
Play music while you’re gone. CDs are great options because it gives you control over what your dog hears and gives the pet something to focus their attention. Music for pets can be soothing just as it is for humans.
Provide the essentials. Ensure that while you’re away from your dog, they have everything they need in order to be comfortable. Examples include food, water, a comfortable spot to lie, and toys.
Positive Reinforcement. Reward your dog’s calm behavior with treats or mild attention. This will motivate calm behavior by positive association.
Find a dog Walker. Dogs are social pack animals and thrive on companionship. If you are gone for eight or more hours a day, consider finding a dog walker or a doggie daycare center. It is also not reasonable to expect a dog to hold their bladder or bowels for more than four hours.
Create a scavenger hunt for your dog by hiding a few treats toys in places that will be fairly easy for your dog to locate. This will establish a positive association with your departure.
Combine an all-natural calming supplement with training.