Raising a dog can be a fulfilling experience for most owners. After all, these furry companions are more than eager to show their love and appreciation for you whenever they can. However, sometimes the bond between an owner and their pet can lead to attachment issues that manifest itself in negative ways. One of these issues is the development of separation anxiety.
Having a dog with separation anxiety can be difficult for both owners and their pets. This condition can be persistent and create all sorts of problems at home. The good news is that it is possible to train your pooch to overcome their separation anxiety without damaging your bond with them.. This guide will offer steps for training your dog to deal with separation anxiety.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a condition in which a pet experiences distress after being separated from their owner or guardian. This condition can last for many years, even if the dog is aware that their owner has left the house only temporarily. For example, a dog may experience separation anxiety each time their owner leaves for work.
What Causes Separation Anxiety?
Dogs often develop separation anxiety for different reasons. Some develop this condition after being abandoned or surrendered to a shelter. Others may start experiencing separation anxiety after moving to a new residence or being subjected to a sudden change in their routine.
Owners often become aware of this condition when their pooch starts engaging in various unwanted behaviors.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
A dog suffering from separation anxiety may display a number of behaviors. This includes:
Defecating or Urinating
Some dogs defecate or urinate indoors when they have been left alone or have been separated from their owners. This symptom only occurs when the owner or guardian isn’t present. A dog that defecates or urinates indoors when their owner is around is likely suffering from a different behavioral or medical condition.
Digging and Chewing
A dog with separation anxiety may attempt to “dig” near entrances and doorways. Some canines also chew on household objects such as furniture and fixtures. Both these issues carry some risk of injury, so owners should attempt to correct their pet’s separation anxiety if they see this symptom.
Dogs who are left alone may start pacing rapidly until their owner returns. They may move back and forth in a straight line or in a circular pattern. A canine with separation anxiety typically won’t engage in such behaviors when their owner is present.
Owners should be careful to avoid blaming their dog for engaging in any of the behaviors described above. Pets with separation anxiety are typically in a state of distress, and this distress manifests itself in such behaviors.
Training Your Dog to Deal With Separation Anxiety
If you have recently adopted a dog that experiences separation anxiety or own a dog that has developed the condition due to a sudden lifestyle change, you will be glad to know there is hope. It is possible to reduce or even eliminate a canine’s separation anxiety with the help of training. Some tips for training your dog to deal with separation anxiety are shown below.
1. Take It Slow
Dogs with separation anxiety often start to feel as if their owners have left for good when they are separated for only a few hours. Owners can help their dog realize their separation is only temporary by going for short departures.
For example, you can practice leaving your dog alone as you walk to your mailbox and back. You can then increase the amount of time spent away from your pooch by walking around the block or going to the store.
You should ensure your canine is feeling okay each time you return. However, you should avoid showering them with too much affection during each reunion to avoid creating the impression that each departure is a significant event. It is generally best to downplay your departures to help normalize these occurrences.
2. Add More Exercise to Their Routine
Most dogs jump for joy at the thought of being able to go outside and stretch their legs. After all, exercise offers numerous benefits for dogs such as helping them lose weight and stave off joint issues. Exercise also boosts their serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that offers mood-stabilizing or calming effects. Dogs with low serotonin may be prone to developing separation anxiety, so you might be able to reduce the intensity of their condition by ensuring they exercise regularly.
3. Crate Training
Crate training is a special training method designed to help your pooch feel more secure being on their own at home. This practice involves placing your canine in a small crate and teaching them to stay there for progressively longer periods.
Owners can place their dog’s favorite toys inside the crate and keep their feeding bowls next to the crate’s opening. The goal here is to help your pet associate the crate with safety and security. This way, they can cozy up in their crate whenever they are experiencing distress from separation anxiety.
Getting Help With Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
The tips mentioned above should be useful for any owner seeking to bring their canine’s separation anxiety under control. Owners should still remember that such training can be an uncomfortable process for most pets and that they should take things slow.
Owners who require additional assistance with helping their canine overcome their separation anxiety can reach out to All Dogs Unleashed. Our trainers have helped numerous owners get their pets’ separation anxiety under control. They follow many tried and tested training methods and always tailor their approach depending on your dog’s unique needs.
Please get in touch with us today to help your pooch overcome their separation anxiety condition.