HOW TO TREAT SEPARATION ANXIETY IN DOGS?
This type of behavior could be the result of insufficient training. However in some cases, it might indicate that your dog has separation anxiety. And certainly that will create lots of questions. What is it? How can I tell if my dog has separation anxiety? What are the symptoms? Should I medicate my dog?
That’s a lot of questions, you will find many of the answers that you are looking for if you just keep on reading.
Symptoms of separation anxiety
- Destructive behavior
These symptoms could be bad habits and more training may be required, especially if the dog is destructive right in front of you. However, if the behavior only occurs when the dog is left alone it is far more likely that your pet is experiencing anxiety when you leave.
- Urinating and Defecating
If your dog pees or poops on the floor right in front of you don’t panic, puppies have accidents. Maybe some more time training will solve the problem. When a problem like this persists, ask your vet about it because there could be an underlying medical condition.
- Barking and Howling
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety might bark and howl when left alone at the house. Dog’s also bark when they hear other dog’s bark or someone walks in front of the house. Often they bark at things humans cannot see or hear. Barking is how dogs communicate, so expect that your dog will do so from time to time.
However, if barking and howling are constant and only happen when your dog is separated from you the root cause is likely the anxiety your dog feels when left alone.
In addition to the symptoms that we have already discussed there are other signs like :
- Escaping from their crate or pen, where they would feel safe
- pacing back and forth in one area
- coprophagic (consuming their excrement),
- extreme excitement on signs of your departing and arriving.
Basically you need to make sure your dog gets enough training if you still see these types of behavior problems there are some steps that you can take.
Problems to rule out first
Some of these unpleasant behaviors could be caused by a medical problem or behavior issue that is not anxiety.
It's a crucial first step to rule out these problems before determining if your dog has developed separation anxiety.
- Enthusiasm Urination
Many dogs may show their excitement by peeing a little bit when they meet you.
You might also see enthusiasm peeing during playtime, when your pet is being punished, or even from the excitement of being rewarded.
Dogs that do this will often display submissive behavior like holding the tail low, flattening the ears back against the head, crouching, and revealing the belly.
- Inadequate House Training
All dogs need cognitive and physical stimulation.Your dog might be bored and destroying stuff in your absence because there's simply nothing else to occupy their time.
Give your dog more stimulation, go on longer walks, play with him/her more, make life more interesting to the dog. When their social and physical needs are met most four legged family members will be able to relax and their destructive behaviour should subside.
Inappropriate and destructive behaviors that are the result of doggy boredom, usually have nothing to do with anxiety.
- Juvenile Destruction
Puppies have the tendency to destroy stuff around them. They don’t yet know how they are supposed to behave so they run on instinct. If there are no other dogs around they don’t have an older animal showing them the correct way to behave.
Crate training or keeping your puppy in one area like a kitchen or large laundry room can help keep them safe until they are ready to roam freely around the house.
Why do Dogs Develop Separation anxiety?
There is no definitive proof telling us why dogs develop separation anxiety.
However, based on how dogs with separation anxiety behave we can see a clear pattern emerge. Adopted dogs, dogs that are taken from a shelter, or dogs who lost their initial owners have a much larger probability of developing separation anxiety than dogs that are kept in the same stable family since they were puppies.
There are lots of reasons for developing separation anxiety, let’s look at a few more.
- Changes in the Family Unit
The Development of separation anxiety in dogs can be easily triggered by losing their first or only owner,dogs are very emotionally connected to their owners. They love them exclusively.
The pack or family is the centre of the dog’s world. In the event they lose a family or owner for any reason, dogs may develop separation anxiety.
Because of the trauma of this loss, they may also be frightened of losing their current owner. Everytime the owner is not with the dog feelings of fear and anxiety can dictate the dog’s behavior.
Shelter dogs and rescue dogs often display a variety of symptoms related to separation anxiety. The best thing to ease the trauma is to be patient and supportive with your animal. They will need time to adjust.
- Schedule changes
Schedule modifications can affect your dog in a way that you perhaps didn't think about. Have you made any big changes lately? Did you change your job recently? Start a new hobby? Switched shifts at work?
Any of these changes in schedule could be disruptive to canine family members . Because of your new schedule, your dog is going on walks at different times than they are used to, eating at a different time or getting less attention from you than he did before.
Significant changes can cause your dog to experience anxiety.
3.Moving to a New Location
Moving to a new place, or a grown child leaving home can cause a dog to be stressed, upset and act out.
Did you recently have to relocate for a job?
Did your son or daughter leave for university or college?
Or did you have a baby or bring your aging parent into the home?
Your pet is easily influenced by new and unexpected conditions or changes in its environment. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make changes, just don’t forget that pets can be extremely affected by things you do and they might have some problems with the changes that are happening.
What can you do?
The best thing that you can do is be patient and give your dog some time. When changing the environment or household members, try to do it gradually so that your pet has time to adjust to their new surroundings and new family unit. And don’t forget about your dog because your new situation is busy or demanding. Include them, take them for a car ride, let them sniff the new baby you are holding, cuddle them, and introduce them to the parent that has moved in. When a pet feels secure they will have better behavior and be happier animals.
How to treat separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety in dogs can range from mild to extreme with behaviors that can upset the entire household, (and your dog too)! . The best thing you can do is take your dog to a vet when you begin noticing stress behaviors like those we have talked about in this article. Dealing with separation anxiety requires dedication and patience from you as a dog parent.
With mild cases, keeping your dog engaged, busy, and well-exercised can be a big help.
When spending time with your dog, take them on long walks, visit your local dog park so they can interact with other doggie friends, play interactive and exciting games, possibly enroll in a reward-based training class with your dog. All these things will help meet your dog’s need for mental stimulation and physical requirements.
Before you leave the house, think about your pet and make sure to leave toys that the dog can chew on, and you could leave some food puzzles to keep their mind active. You might want to think about crate training or otherwise limiting the area they have access to. As your dog grows and their behavior allows you can increase the size of the area they have access to when you are not home. Baby gates can be a great help in controlling where your dog can go in your home.
When leaving home and coming back, don't make any drama. Don't welcome your dog with too much excitement, and don't say goodbye to your pet in a way that will get them upset or want to play. The idea is to exit and enter as peacefully as possible and not draw attention to the fact that you are departing or arriving back.
Severe cases require the owner to learn how to train a dog that is stressed and fearful. Your four-legged friend will not have much success with training unless you can help them overcome their fears and focus on the training. A dog will not eventually stop freaking out when left alone. You need to help them become desensitized to being left alone. I cannot stress enough that this is a GRADUAL PROCESS. You may need to employ help like a professional trainer, a dog sitter or dog walker even your vet.
For more information about training for separation anxiety, check out this article https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.rover.com/blog/heres-real-way-train-dog-separation-anxiety/%3famp.
Your vet may suggest anti-anxiety medication to help your pet reach a calm and content state. There can be side effects and high costs to these types of treatment. Natural supplements can be very useful for this condition. In fact, many veterinary services will suggest natural or herbal remedies as part of the treatment for stress and anxiety in animals.
What Not To Do!
Don't punish your dog or yell at them, you will likely confuse or scare them if you do this which might cause their behavior to get worse or regress. Their actions are not about being disobedient, their actions are caused by the anxiety and stress your pet feels when they are left alone.
Given time, patience, love, understanding, and the proper treatment, even the most fearful pup will begin to adjust and not be scared of being alone. With time your dog will develop the certainty that you will return.