Does your dog experience separation anxiety? If you aren’t familiar with the term, separation anxiety refers to untoward behavior exhibited by your dog that seems to be simply triggered with you absence. This is not necessarily the mess that you come home to leaving a pup alone, however. In this article we will describe how separation anxiety manifests in dogs as well as what you can do to help minimize or to hopefully eliminate this behavior. Let’s talk about how to break your dog’s separation anxiety!
My dog has separation anxiety?
It is possible but we should note at this time that not all destructive puppies are suffering from separation anxiety. Some factors that you will want to assess first are as follows:
- Did your pup come from a pet store where they spent a lot of time alone? – This can certainly contribute to separation anxiety. The animal is used to being isolated and dogs are very social animals.
- Did you change your residence during the first 7 – 10 weeks of the Pup’s life? – A change in your living quarters or overall living situation during that time period can cause problems in the ‘socialization period’ which puppies normally go through.
- Was your puppy weaned earlier than 7 – 8 weeks? – There are many things which a puppy learns from it’s mother and the other pups. This includes things like how hard they can bite without hurting someone, socializing with other dogs, and more.
What does separation anxiety look like?
Now that we know some of the causes of separation anxiety, let’s discuss some of the symptoms. Dogs with separation anxiety may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Barking or whining in the crate all night when separated from you or other family members
- Destructive chewing whenever you have left them alone (note, this is fairly common in puppies that are new, so look for manifestations of the other symptoms in conjunction with this to be sure!)
- Scratching at the door or digging in the carpet in front of it when you are inside a room and away from them.
How do I go about curing dog separation anxiety quickly?
Unfortunately separation anxiety is not something that you can cure overnight. It is something that develops over time and it can take the same amount of time to correct in some cases. This is why it is important to begin dog separation anxiety training as soon as you can. Let’s talk next about how to fix separation anxiety in dogs.
How to cure separation anxiety in dogs
Curing separation anxiety is a slow process but with patience you will definitely see results over time. Some examples of what you can do are as follows:
- Leaving your scent – Wear an undershirt for a couple of days so that it gets inundated with your personal scent. You can leave this with your dog for times when you are gone so that they have your smell close and comfortable in your absence.
- Frozen Kong toy – A frozen Kong toy can entertain a dog for a long time. If you are currently crate training your dog, try leaving them a frozen Kong treat before you go and giving them one immediately after you return. Over time your dog may become more comfortable with your departures if they know that you are returning and that they will get a treat.
- ‘I’ll be back’ – Let your dog know with a specific phrase that you are leaving and coming back. While they cannot actually understand your words, dogs pick up on tone and body language, so this can go a long way in helping to reassure them that you are coming back.
” Emphasize with your casual manner that your leaving is no big deal”
- Visible departure routine – In a similar vein as ‘I’ll be back’, you can make a specific routine for when you leave. A bowl with your keys that you pick up and jingle, followed by grabbing your coat, or another similar routine that you do every time that you are leaving can help to establish a comfortable routine for a nervous dog.
- Invisible departure – For some dogs, the complete opposite of a visible routine is the best way to go. You start this out by ignoring the dog for 30 – 45 minutes before your departure and when you leave, do it quietly. No ‘goodbye’ or jingling keys, as you want to emphasize with your casual manner that your leaving is no big deal. Once your dog gets used to the idea that you casually come and go and realizes that you always come back then they will relax a bit in their anxiety.
Quality time is also quite effective
Taking your dog out on a long walk before you leave and another when you return is a great way to spend some quality time with them and can go a long way in reassuring them that they are safe and loved. Remember, this dog is afraid of being abandoned and may be codependent on you for their socialization. Long walks in the park can help to reassure them and if there are other dogs present, this is even better, because it gives them a chance to socialize a little and become less reliant on you for all their interactions.
Some final words
In this article, we have discussed how to recognize and how to cure separation anxiety in dogs. This is very much a curable condition, much like anxiety in a person, and your time, love, and patience will make all of the difference. You must also be very conscious of your temper during this time and resist the urge to punish your dog for their behavior. Your dog isn’t being ‘bad’, they are crying out for attention, and punishment is only going to confuse and alienate them more. Just relax and use the tips which we have outlined for you today and before you know it your dog will relax right along with you!