Dog separation anxiety is among the most common problems every dog owner’s encounter with their dogs. If your dog has separation anxiety symptoms, such as destruction of furniture, constant barking, or shaking, you have to help your dog. If you don’t find a solution to this problem, the symptoms will get worse.
What causes dog separation anxiety?
Dog parent should look for the cause of the problem before starting treatment. Some dogs are nervous because they are stressed. This is mostly true in the case of dogs brought home from dog shelters or those bought from pet stores. These pups have experienced painful moments in their lives. Some may have been separated from their mother at a very early age, that is, before reaching 8 weeks of age, depriving them of maternal affection and care. Nor do they develop the dependency traits that their mothers could have instilled. Others may have been neglect by their former owners, which affect their levels of trust and confidence.
Symptoms of dog separation anxiety
Dog separation anxiety is mostly depicted either through dog physical or vocal behavior. Pooches that develop severe fear after being left alone at home may result in whining, barking, or howling. Sometimes, these vocals can become annoying screams in an attempt to attract attention. If these do not work, the dogs may become destructive and scratch, chew, tear or dig anything that comes his way. For example, the dog can chew furniture, shoes or anxiously scratch on the walls, carpets, and doors. They do these in an attempt to create escape routes.
Treatment for Dog Separation Anxiety
There is no real agreement among dog training experts or veterinarians on the best way to treat these problems. The recommendations differ according to the severity of the behavior and anxiety problems the dog display. However, the following are the most effective dog separation anxiety treatment ways.
Provide toys to distract the dog
Leaving your dog with exciting toys is one-way dog owners try to distract their dog attention and keep them entertained when leaving home. A very common option is a chew toy that can be filled with food that takes the dog some time to reach it. If you leave your puppy alone on a daily basis, be careful not to end up over-feeding your dog if you use this method. Do give your pup his favorite chew toy, like a treat-stuffed Kong, a few minutes before leaving home. He will be busy with the treat when you walk out the door and will not mind your departure.
Exercise your dog before leaving home
A tired dog is a quiet dog. Exercise your dogs at least 30 minutes before you leave home, this will relax your dog and divert its attention to food and sleep. Take your dog for a walk or some exercise like playing Fetch for half an hour. This exercise will tire him out and your dog will have less energy to spend in search for things to destroy in your home. A well-exercised dog is an obedient and happy dog.
There are medications available for treating severe separation anxiety in dogs. One of the most common drugs for anxiety is clomicalm. It takes a few weeks for it to start working, however, it reduces the symptoms of anxiety. Clomicalm is not a magic pill. It should be combined with strong pack leadership and modified behavior to solve the problem. For less severe separation anxiety, natural remedies can help keep the dog in a calm state of mind. It is recommended to use prescription medication only for the severe case of separation anxiety. And generally, only after other treatments have been tried and failed to obtain the desired results. You will need to see your veterinarian because this type of medication can have side effects and, therefore, needs to be supervised.
Do not leave your dog alone for long
Your pup can learn to be alone for part of the day, however, if you need to stay away for more than 6 to 8 hours, take him to work if possible. You can also organize your tasks so that you are away just for short periods of time. If you need to be away for several days, ask a relative or a friend to take care of your dog. Or you can consider a daycare service to be sure your dog is taken care of while you are away.
Dog separation anxiety training
The closest dog experts have agreed about anxiety therapy is the use of behavioral training. Even veterinarians who advocate the use of anxiety medications will also recommend a training program to go alongside it. In the long term, there is a need to eliminate the dog’s sensitivity to what triggers off the anxiety. You will also have to deal with behavioral problems caused by anxiety.
Change your departure signals
Use a different exit door, put on your cloth but do not leave for about 15 minutes, keep your bag, keys, and shoes in a different place. The aim is to break your dog association of these actions with your departure and not allow them to trigger separation anxiety. When leaving home, give your dog a treat or a toy to play with in order to distract him.
Train your pup to be alone when you are at home
Tell your dog to stay alone in a room while you go to another part of the house. If your pooch has serious separation anxiety, begin with 5 to 10 seconds interval time and extend it to 20 or 30 minutes over some weeks. You can as well create a personal space for your dog, instead of sleeping with your dog, get him a separate bed. This will teach him to enjoy his own space and be independent of you. This will help relieve his anxiety when you are not around.
Finally, you should as well feed your puppy with its meal before leaving home. This is an effective way to give your dog the idea that you will always be on its side. These are some ways on how to treat dog separation anxiety if you notice signs of this disorder in your dog.