If you’re a lucky puppy owner, you’re most likely prepared to cope with quite a few behavioural issues your pup might have. But if you find it impossible to leave your dog alone without feeling stressed and overly emotional, you might be dealing with separation anxiety in dogs.
Dog separation anxiety has some distinctive symptoms that require immediate attention if you want to prevent further complications.
However, the good news is that proper training can help your dog with separation anxiety. Let’s take a closer look at how you can do it.
Why Does a Dog Get Separation Anxiety?
Dogs are fascinating creatures, and understanding their behaviour is the key to making your puppy happy and your life easier. Dog separation anxiety is common for both puppies and adult dogs.
Yet, the sooner you identify it, the easier it’ll be for you to help your furry friend cure it.
Before we get started with the training tips, let’s see what dog separation anxiety is and what can cause it.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Suppose your dog starts feeling worried when you’re leaving the house, follows you around all the time, ruins furniture and other household items when you’re not home, and defecates and urinates inside while you’re away. In that case, it might be experiencing separation anxiety.
While these signs aren’t hard to spot, they might also indicate simulated separation anxiety resulting from lousy training and misbehaviour. So, before diagnosing your pup with separation anxiety, ensure it’s not the lack of self-control and inadequate training.
Unlike simulated dog separation anxiety, genuine dog anxiety describes the behaviour when your dog is highly stressed from the time you leave home until you return, making your favourite dog go through an actual panic attack.
Here are a few ways your dog might be expressing separation anxiety issues:
- Excessive barking or howling
- Destructive chewing
- Excessive salivation, panting, or drooling
- Whining and trembling when you’re leaving
- Frequent urinating and defecating accidents inside the house
- Attempts to escape create or the house itself
Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
While there’s no concrete answer to why some dogs tend to suffer from separation anxiety and some don’t, this condition is real.
You only need to remember that your pup isn’t trying to punish you or make you feel bad, and it simply wants you to come back home.
Here are a few things that can trigger separation anxiety in your dog:
- A traumatic event from the past (e.g., previous owners left it and never came back)
- Being left alone for the first time
- Being used to always being around people
- A family member passing away
- A family member is moving out
- A change in the family-s routine
Once you identify that your doggo is experiencing separation anxiety, it’s time to help it overcome its fears. It might not be easy, but it’s worth your time and effort.
How to Help a Dog With Separation Anxiety?
Sometimes, vets can prescribe anti-anxiety medication for your dog, but it’s not a natural cure for separation anxiety. Yes, it can calm your dog and help you better manage the training process. But mostly, it’s up to you as a dog owner to help your furry friend learn to stay home alone when needed.
Here are a few ways to help your dog with separation anxiety:
When it comes to separation anxiety training, you must start somewhere. That’s why it’s crucial to know your dog’s threshold for separation. In short, you need to know when exactly your dog starts feeling anxious. Is it before you even left, 10 seconds after, or only a few hours later?
The best way to do it is to use a camera to record how your dog acts while you’re supposedly gone. If you see that your dog can’t handle it even for a few seconds, it means you should start from there.
Don’t expect your pup to be okay with you going away for hours from the beginning. Start from small and increase time increments gradually once you see success.
Here’s a possible training scenario you can try:
- Start walking towards the door, open it, close it immediately without leaving, and walk away.
- Walk to the door, step outside, close the door behind you, and return straight away.
- Come to the door, press the door handle but don’t open the door; release, and walk away.
This method can help you decentralize your dog gradually and help it get used to different scenarios and actions.
Normalize Your Departures and Arrivals
As much as you want to show excess amounts of love and affection to your dog every time you leave or arrive back home, it’s the last thing you need to do if you want to cure your dog’s separation anxiety.
It means you‘ll have to stop making a big deal of your departures and arrivals, normalizing them as much as possible. We know it can be challenging, but try ignoring your dog for a few minutes when you return home and only pet them.
It will help your dog understand better that it’s okay for you to leave and be absent for some time.
Establish “I’m Leaving” Phrase
Trust is vital for any relationship, including a human-dog relationship. Let your puppy know it can trust you. This can help your dog accept that you're leaving the house with much less stress.
Come up with a word, phrase, or action to let your dog know that you're leaving and will come back. However, remember to keep up your promise.
If you say you will come back soon but don't, it might cause a more severe reaction to your future departures.
Keep Things Different
Unfortunately, dogs aren’t as good at generalizing as humans. They’re creatures of habits, and some of those habits can affect their lives significantly. So, if you want to train your dog suffering from separation anxiety, you must do it at different times.
If you only train your dog at 8:30 am, your fluffy friend might believe it’s the only time you’ll leave home. And if you need to go at any other time, the dog might not apply what it learned at 8:30 am.
So, by training your dog at different times of the day, you help it understand that you might need to leave at any point throughout the day.
Taking breaks in dog separation training is crucial for you and your dog. This type of training is pretty stressful for your pup and requires time to process things. Make sure you take at least one day off from training your dog.
It’s important not to ask too much of your dog. Try to spend no more than 30 minutes per day training your dog. Dog separation anxiety training requires time and patience, so be ready.
Best Dog Crate for Separation Anxiety
Proper crate training can help you with treating your dog’s separation anxiety. However, it’s crucial to help your dog associate its crate with good things like chew toys, making it a safe and comfortable place to be.
Once your dog can stay in its crate for a while, even when you’re home, it can make it easier for them to see you leave. Of course, you wouldn’t want your pup to spend the whole day in a crate, but it’s critical to let them know it’s a safe place to be no matter what.
Our Bella&Toby™ Pet Bed is studied to have an outstanding design. Suitable for all dog breeds, this pet bed will make your dog’s life more joyful and anxiety-free. It’s made with premium quality materials and a non-slip base to ensure the best experience for your furry friend.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about our products. Our team will be happy to help you out!