Even though dogs are social animals, many have to spend hours alone at home. While some dogs seem to adjust to being alone quite well, a number of others show signs of distress. The distressing symptoms could range from mild to severe and are collectively known as separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly reported behavioral issues in dogs which can worsen if left unaddressed or untreated. For dog parents, separation anxiety in their dogs can be extremely problematic and stressful as it can result in destructive or disruptive behaviors when left alone. The dogs can defecate, urinate, howl, bark, dig, chew or even try to escape.
While these signs often indicate the need for some house training, they are also widely reported symptoms of distress. Hence, when a dog demonstrates these signs along with showing anxiety and drooling when the owners prepare to leave the house, it is an indication that the canine has separation anxiety.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation distress or anxiety is a frequently reported behavioral response in dogs that are unable to cope with being alone at home. This reaction is triggered when dogs become irritated because of being separated from their owners. Separation anxiety often leads to escape attempts which can result in household destruction or self-injury, especially around exit points such as doors and windows. Other signs such as excessive barking could also lead to neighbors threatening with legal consequences. As it can become a welfare concern, extreme forms of separation anxiety can also lead to dog relinquishment.
For this reason, it is critical to take concrete steps to prevent this problem from developing or to seek the help of a professional dog behaviorist, if the problem has already arisen. If you do decide to opt for this route and invest in a dog trainer, then you need to ensure you’re choosing one that is going to benefit the owner and the pet. One of the UK’s leading providers of dog training is dogharmony.co.uk/ – they have dog training techniques specifically tailored to your dog’s personality and assistance which enables owners to bond with their dogs strongly.
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety can become agitated, anxious, or depressed when their owners prepare to leave. Some even try to stop their guardians from leaving, while others begin barking and displaying distress behaviors shortly after they are left alone. Moreover, the dog would greet the owner like a long lost loved one upon their return.
The underlying notion is to train the dog to enjoy being alone or tolerate the reality of being unaccompanied. Here are eight ways to help you in achieving this:
1.TAKE YOUR DOG FOR A WALK BEFORE LEAVING
A dog becomes a part of your family the day you adopt them. Therefore, you need to coax the animal systematically before leaving the house. You can do it by taking your beloved canine for a brisk walk and for added measure you can use a dog backpack with more weight in it. It will help calm down your pet in two ways – it will tire the dog out which may result in a nap while you are away and emotionally it will level out their brain’s chemistry which is an after effect of physical activity.
Once the walk is over, you should reward your dog’s obedience with food and water. Remember, not all dogs will eat before resting, but all of them can benefit from hydration. Therefore, always plan a walk or a backyard game of fetch before leaving home as having a nervous dog home alone is worrisome, but also having an anxiously hyper dog is a recipe for calamity.
2. HIRE A DOG WALKER
A healthy percentage of dogs are obese because either their owners do not have enough time or they are just negligent. Therefore, the idea to take your dog for a brisk walk before leaving home cannot work out if you are often running against time. Therefore, make life easy for yourself and your canine friend by hiring a professional dog walker.
This will also ensure that when you are home your dog is cuddly and upbeat, and is nowhere near any irritation. Moreover, taking a dog walker on board will give your dog enough attention and affection keeping the pet’s mood in a good stead.
3. NO TOUCH, NO TALK, NO EYE CONTACT
It is critical to not make a big deal about leaving home or when returning by avoiding touching, talking, or making eye contact with your dog. It would be your way of communicating that the time apart is not a reason to go bonkers and that it is business as usual. However, contingent upon the severity of your dog’s separation anxiety you need to rehearse the rule for a few minutes up to an hour before leaving and when you get back.
4. SAY GOODBYES LONG BEFORE YOU LEAVE
If you are facing difficulty practicing the no touch, talk or eye contact strategy, then take a moment to show affection by telling your canine friend that you will miss him well before the time of your parting. However, this display of love is more for you than for your dog as it will keep you content psychologically.
5. DOG TOYS ARE YOUR FRIEND
A bored pooch left to his own instruments may well impulse out by chewing up your devices. This is because boredom could be as much of a reason for violent behavior as is separation anxiety. Therefore, it is essential to leave out all of your dog’s favorite toy ducks, stuffed chickens, and chewy squirrels, and any other items that you think can entertain your beloved dog in your absence.
Dog toys are a fantastic pastime for your pet. Apart from keeping them away from your gadgets, they won’t be as nervous about you neutralize. However, always ensure not to buy them toys with treats hidden in them. Once the dog gallops the treat, they will be bored in no time and may set their eyes on your furniture.
6. STAY CALM AND ASSERTIVE!
When leaving home, detach yourself from those nervous feelings and guilty eyes – instead, let your pooch know that all is well by projecting confidence to neutralize separation anxiety in dogs.
Remember, dogs can single out their owner’s negative energy in a jiffy. Therefore, banish those guilty feelings linked with leaving your dog alone when bidding them adieu. A confident and assertive demeanor upon leaving will assure your dog that everything is hale and hearty.
7. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Start training your dog for temporary isolation by leaving them alone for just a few minutes, and gradually extend the time to half an hour followed by an hour. It will take time, but eventually, you will be able to leave your pet alone for 8 to 10 hours without worrying about them, chewing on your latest Blu-ray discs.
8. CONFINE YOUR DOG IF NEED BE!
A few breeds of dogs, particularly the high-anxiety ones will feel more at ease if they are inside a crate or in a space surrounded by baby gates. However, if your dog is crated ensure not to confine them him for more than four to five hours at a time. It apparently looks a little cruel, but as expressed by many dog behaviorists, several dogs prefer them as they consider it their house.
Lastly, the only way to harness the benefits of the strategies mentioned above is by being consistent even when your pet stops showing signs of separation anxiety. The consistency of a habit is the only way to bring about improvement in any course of life.