It’s amazing how quickly you can develop a strong bond with your dog, and that level of companionship is one of the best things about having a pet. But it can also lead to problems, like separation anxiety.
Some dogs get very distressed when their owner leaves the house and they may act out in different ways, like chewing things up or excessive barking. Even when you are home, they may follow you from room to room all of the time and get upset and anxious when you are not there. In some cases, they may also go to the toilet on the floor, even if they have been well trained.
Some dogs have separation anxiety early on, while other dogs may develop it later on in life. It’s a very big problem because it is distressing for both you and your dog, so you need to find ways to deal with it. This guide will tell you everything that you need to know about separation anxiety and the different ways that you can manage it.
What Causes Separation Anxiety?
If you want to treat separation anxiety in your dog, it is important that you understand where it comes from in the first place. There are a few different reasons that dogs develop separation anxiety but it often begins when dogs are left alone for the first time. When you first get a pet, it is important that you spend a lot of time with them but, eventually, you do need to get back to normal and your dog will be left on their own for the first time. It is important that you handle this situation in the right way if you want to stop your dog from developing separation anxiety, and we will get back to that later.
Separation anxiety can also be caused by a change in the dog’s normal schedule, which confuses them. For example, if you change jobs and you are coming and going at different times to what you normally would, this can upset your dog. They don’t know their routine anymore and they don’t know when you are going to come back, so they become anxious when you leave.
In some cases, traumatic events, like going into kennels, can cause separation anxiety in dogs. This may pass in time but, in some cases, you may need to take steps to help your dog deal with their anxiety.
Treating Separation Anxiety
Minor separation anxiety is fairly common in dogs and it is relatively easy to deal with if you change your behavior a little. These are some of the best ways to treat a minor separation anxiety issue.
Be Relaxed About Arrivals and Departures
The biggest mistake that people make with their dogs is making a big deal about leaving the house or arriving home. Your dog will be so excited to see you when you walk in the door and it’s a great welcome home, but you need to resist your natural urge to pet them and play with them. It’s hard at first and it seems horrible, but you should try to ignore your dog for the first few minutes and then gently pet them when they start to calm down. Try not to give them too much attention when you leave the house either. After a few weeks, when your dog gets used to it, they will not be as anxious when you leave the house.
Leave Some Clothes
Dogs rely heavily on their smell, and if they can smell you when you are out of the house, that will relax them while you are away. If you have some recently worn clothes, you should leave them in the dog’s bed so they can sniff them. This should be comforting for them and reduce their anxiety while you are out of the house.
Establish a Signal Word
The reason that dogs get separation anxiety is that they are worried that you will not return. That is why a signal word works so well. If you can establish a verbal command that you use every time you leave and then return to the house, this tells your dog that you are coming back. When you leave and they hear you use this word, they will not worry because they know that you are not leaving forever.
Use Calming Products
There are some great products out there that can help to calm your dog and relieve their separation anxiety. CBD products for pets are incredibly popular so if your dog has separation anxiety, you should find a company like Serenity Store, and get hold of some CBD pet treats. If you give one of these to your dog before you leave the house, it will calm them and help to relieve some of their anxiety. There are also some great plugin products that release calming scents into the house to help deal with anxiety.
Create a Safe Confinement Space
If your dog’s separation anxiety problem is more severe and they are very destructive when you are out of the house, you need to find some ways to confine them and limit the damage that they can do while you find ways to reduce their anxiety. It is important that you give them a comfortable space, so choose a large room with lots of windows and leave them with plenty of toys. If possible, you should leave your dog with a friend or family member while you are away. This helps them to get used to being without you, but they are not alone so they will not be as anxious.
Speak With Your Vet
If you have tried a lot of different things and your dog is still suffering from separation anxiety, you should speak with your vet. Big changes in their behavior could be a sign that they need to see a vet, and your vet may also be able to help you find ways to relieve the anxiety.
Things To Avoid
There are certain things that you need to avoid because they will make your dog’s separation anxiety a lot worse.
Punishing your dog by shouting at them or taking toys away is one of the worst ways to deal with separation anxiety. In most cases, it will confuse your dog even more because they do not understand why they are being punished, and it will make the situation worse.
Getting Another Dog
People sometimes assume that getting another dog will help because your dog will no longer be alone. However, the anxiety that they feel comes from being separated from their owner, rather than being alone. Another dog can cause tensions and may even increase separation anxiety in some cases, so do not introduce another animal until the anxiety issues are dealt with.
Obedience training is important for dogs and you should always make an effort to train them from an early age. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that training will solve separation anxiety because they are two different issues.
Putting Them In a Crate
When your dog is causing a lot of damage to your home due to their separation anxiety, it may be tempting to put them in a crate while you are out of the house. But this is so distressing for your dog and will make them a lot more anxious. They will be more likely to go to the toilet on the floor and they may even injure themselves trying to get out.
Dealing with separation anxiety can take a long while, but if you follow the advice above, you can help to make sure that your dog is happy and healthy.