How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety in dogs is a very stressful behavioral issue that effects a huge percentage of the dog population, possibly as high as 14%.
It is one of the most misunderstood issues with people trying to treat it by approaching it from a human point of view and…
failing to see the cause.
The answer to how to stop separation anxiety in dogs is simple. Show your dog that you are the pack leader. Let me explain.
Recognizing that the following behaviors are symptoms is a start. They are as wide ranging as they are distressing for the dog, but by treating them you are not treating the cause of the problem.
First ask yourself the question: does the behavior stop when you return? If so then I suggest that you’re being away is actually connected to the cause.
You are reading an article about Separation anxiety in dogs by Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
Separation Anxiety in Dogs – The Symptoms
Lets take a look at a few of the key symptoms.
Chewing –releases an endorphin similar to the one released when a human is chewing gum. This is an attempt to stay calm.
Barking, whining – this is a call for the owners to return to the pack. It’s similar to if you were to call your children when you can’t find them.
Escaping when you are not there – often very destructive, extreme and sometimes dangerous. Your dog is looking for you. So many people are told to try and exercise the problem out of their dog but it will not solve the problem.
Digging, destruction – this is all connected to stressful and anxious behavior.
Self-mutilation – excessive, licking and chewing oneself. Excessive drooling is also a sign of stress. These are signs that are often mistaken for being medical conditions but are all stress related
Toileting – if your dog is toilet trained but starts going toilet inside and you think that it is behavioral then it could well be. If it is only occurring when your dog is away from you then it is very likely connected to your dog having separation anxiety.
Becoming the Pack Leader to Stop Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Whilst there are lots of places that you can find advice on how to treat all these symptoms there is only one way to treat the cause of the problem. If you are serious about how to stop separation anxiety then you must become the pack leader.
Separation anxiety is a very straight forward problem that occurs when your dog believes they are the pack leader…
…and your are their puppy or member of their pack.
In the wild dogs do not wander off out the den on their own. So your dogs separation anxiety will continue until you return to him. Once you show your dog that you are the pack leader your dog will be fine with you coming and going as you please.
One of the best places to understand more about establishing yourself as the pack leader is the video based web site The Online Dog Trainer. The website owner is the professional dog trainer Doggy Dan. Understanding the real cause of the problem is the first step, but…
Becoming the pack leader is the solution!
If you want to understand more about this topic or see the videos that explain everything then simply take a look at The Online Dog Trainer here…
Separation anxiety is one of the most common problems that dogs develop. It’s an anxiety disorder, and is defined as a state of intense panic brought on by the dog’s isolation/separation from her owner(s). In other words: when you leave for work in the morning, your dog is plunged into a state of nervous anxiety which intensifies extremely quickly.
Dogs are social animals – they need plenty of company and social interaction to keep them happy and content. No dog likes to be left alone for long stretches of time, but some dogs do a lot worse than others: these are the ones most prone to separation anxiety. There are a number of contributing causes to the condition: – Some breeds are genetically predisposed towards anxiety and insecurity, which is something you should consider when deciding which breed you’re going to go for (particularly if you’re going to be absent for long stretches of time). A few of these breeds include Weimaraners, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, and Airedales – A significant proportion of dogs from shelters develop separation anxiety.
Most of these ‘shelter dogs’ have undergone significant trauma in their lives – they’ve been abandoned by their previous owners – and thus they have little trust that their new-found owner (you) isn’t going to pull the same trick. – Dogs that were separated from their mothers and siblings too early have been identified as being especially prone to separation anxiety. Puppies from pet-stores are a perfect example of this: they’re usually taken from their mothers well before the earliest possible age (which is 8 weeks), and confined to a small glass box in the petstore for anywhere between a few weeks to two months.
This early weaning, coupled with the lack of exercise and affection while in the petstore, is psychologically traumatic for the dog. – Neglect is the number-one cause of separation anxiety for dogs. If you’re absent much more than you’re present in your dog’s life, separation anxiety is pretty much inevitable. Your dog needs your company, affection, and attention in order to be happy and content.
The symptoms of separation anxiety are pretty distinctive: your dog will usually learn to tell when you’re about to leave (she’ll hear keys jingling, will see you putting on your outdoor clothes, etc) and will become anxious. She may follow you from room to room, whining, trembling, and crying. Some dogs even become aggressive, in an attempt to stop their owners from leaving. When you’ve left, the anxious behavior will rapidly worsen and usually will peak within half an hour.
She may bark incessantly, scratch and dig at windows and doors (an attempt to escape from confinement and reunite herself with you), chew inappropriate items, even urinate and defecate inside the house. In extreme cases, she might self-mutilate by licking or chewing her skin until it’s raw, or pulling out fur; or will engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviors, like spinning and tail-chasing. Upon your return, she’ll be excessively excited, and will leap around you in a frenzy of delight for a protracted period of time (more than the 30 seconds to one minute of a happy, well-balanced dog.)
This extended greeting is a source of some misunderstanding: without realizing that such a greeting actually signifies the presence of a psychological disorder, some owners actually encourage their dog to get more and more worked up upon their return (by fuelling the dog’s excitement, encouraging her to leap around, paying her protracted attention, and so on.)
If you’re behaving in this way with your dog, please stop. I know it’s tempting and very easy to do, and it seems harmless – after all, she’s so happy to see you, what harm can it do to return her attention and affection in equal measure? – but in actuality, you’re just validating her belief that your return is the high point of the day. So she’s as happy as Larry when you return – but, when it’s time for you to leave again, her now-exaggerated happiness at your presence is under threat, and she gets even more unhappy when you walk out that door. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize your dog’s tendency towards anxiety.
Here’s a short list of do’s and don’ts: Do: – Exercise the heck out of her. Really wear her out: the longer you expect to be away, the more exercise she should get before you leave. For example, if you’re leaving for work in the morning, she’ll probably be by herself for at least four hours; and, if you’ve got a dog-walker to take her out mid-day instead of coming back yourself, she won’t see you – the person she really cares about – for at least nine hours. So she needs a good, vigorous walk (fifteen to twenty minutes is the absolute minimum here!) before you walk out that door. More is even better. – Distract her from her boredom, loneliness, and anxiety by giving her an attractive alternative to pining, pacing, and whining.
All dogs love to chew – why not play on this predisposition? Get a couple of marrowbones from the butcher, bake them in the oven for 20 minutes (so they go nice and hard and crunchy – and so she can’t smear marrow all over your furniture), slice them up into chunks of a few inches long, and give her one about 15 minutes before you leave. It’ll keep her happy and occupied, and will act as a smokescreen for your departure. – When you leave, put the radio on to a soothing station: classical music is ideal, but any station featuring lots of talk shows is also ideal. Keep the volume quite low, and it’ll calm her down a bit and give her the feeling that she’s got company. – If at all possible, supply her with a view: if she can see the world going by, that’s the next best thing to being out and about in it. – Acclimatize her to your leaving.
Taking things nice and slowly, practice getting ready to go: jingle your keys about, put on your coat, and open the door. Then – without leaving! – sit back down and don’t go anywhere. Do this until she’s not reacting any more. When there’s no reaction, give her a treat and lavish praise for being so brave. Next, practice actually walking out the door (and returning immediately), again doing this until there’s no reaction.
Gradually work up – gradually being the operative word here! – until you’re able to leave the house with no signs of stress from her. Do not: – Act overtly sympathetic when she’s crying. Although it sounds very cold-hearted, trying to soothe and comfort your dog by patting her and cooing over her is actually one of the worst things you can do: it’s essentially validating her concern. Make sure she can’t tell that you feel sorry for her: don’t ever say, “It’s OK, good girl” when she’s upset!
For more information on handling aggressive and dominant behaviors, as well as a great deal of detailed information on a host of other common dog behavior problems, check out “Secrets to Dog Training”. It’s a complete owner’s guide to owning, rearing, and training your dog, and it deals with all aspects of dog ownership. To get the inside word on preventing and dealing with problem behaviors like aggression and dominance in your dog, “Secrets to Dog Training” is well worth a look. Click here to check out “Secrets to Dog Training”!
Dogs love to be around their owners. They’re sorry to see them leave, and are always happy when they return. The bond a canine feels with his owner makes him unhappy when separated from him. This is normal. Some dogs, however, become especially agitated when they suspect their owners are leaving them. They may loudly vocalize their displeasure, or adopt destructive behaviors that manifest in several ways (e.g. digging, destroying furniture, etc.). This is called separation anxiety.
Below, we’ll explore why many canines become anxious whenever they are separated from their owners. We’ll also describe some of the common symptoms of the problem, and provide a few tips for addressing them.
Why Your Absence Might Cause Your Dog Stress
In nearly all cases of separation anxiety, there is some type of social dysfunction in the canine’s past. For example, he may have spent his early years in a puppy mill. Such dogs are usually deprived of socialization and human contact (aside from the rough treatment of the mill’s employees). When they receive both from loving owners, they gravitate toward them. When their owners leave, the possibility of losing these things causes them stress.
Another possible cause is that the canine has been exposed to multiple owners. Many dogs go from household to shelter to household to shelter, which prevents them from developing any degree of security in their surroundings. Because they fear being abandoned again, they become anxious whenever their current owner departs.
Your pet may also show signs of distress when you leave if he has experienced something traumatic in his past. For example, he may have been confronted with his previous owner having passed away, leaving him trapped inside the house.
Common Signs Of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Many behaviors that stem from separation anxiety are destructive in nature, but result from the dog trying to relieve the tension he feels. For example, suppose you left your canine inside your home to go to the office for the day. If he becomes anxious due to being separated from you, he might perceive the doors in your home as barriers. As a result, he may scratch them in an attempt to get through.
Other behaviors include urinating and defecating inside the home, persistent whining, salivating, and even diarrhea. Your dog may also pace back and forth to help relieve the stress he feels. When you arrive at home, he may not let you out of his sight, a behavior motivated by nervousness that you may leave him again.
Tips For Minimizing Separation Anxiety in dogs
The most effective solution for reducing your canine’s anxiety is to help him grow accustomed to your being away. First, avoid making a big deal about leaving and returning home. Ignore your dog fifteen minutes prior to leaving, and likewise when you return.
Second, give him something to chew on during the time leading up to your departure. This will help him form a connection between your leaving and something he enjoys.
Third, give your canine plenty of exercise. A single walk each day should be considered a minimum. Take more, if possible. Not only does this help him expend his energy, and thus keep boredom at bay, but it will also give him a chance to broaden his view of the world. This might encourage him to be less dependent on you, and less anxious when you leave.
Fourth, confine your canine to an area of your home for short periods to help him grow comfortable with being separated from you. Start with five minutes and gradually add more time.
The challenge in minimizing your dog’s separation anxiety is helping him understand that you will return to him, despite his experiences with others in the past. Keep in mind that modifying his expectations and gaining his trust takes time. With diligence, however, you can help your dog overcome his anxiety.
Separation Anxiety in dogs is one of the most common problems besetting dog owners. Anxiety causes the dog to display annoying behavior such as barking when it is left in the house. If this is tolerated, ignored or allowed to advance, your dog might become a menace, or it might create so much noise when left alone.
The Sources of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
By instinct, dogs are social animals. They belong to a pack and they have a strong attachment to their master. When a dog is left behind by its master, it has a tendency to get overly excited. It is important to note that most of the anxiety that dogs feel is caused by their attachment to specific actions that you take relative to your absence. Dogs don’t like to be left alone, there’s no question about it, but there’s no direct connection why they should be so disturbed when you leave.
Separation anxiety occurs when you lavish your attention to your dog before you leave or when you arrive. You could also be doing a pattern of the same activities before you depart. Dogs can easily tag a sequence of activities overtime, and they will know that you are leaving. As the dog’s behavior is reinforced on a daily basis, time will come that it cannot contain its anxiety anymore, and anxiety is manifested.
Reducing Dog Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Dealing with separation anxiety in dogs comes in many ways. Here are a few tips to consider:
Change Your Routine. Change the sequence of your activities before you leave. Make sure that you are not consistently repeating the sequence of activities. Dogs have the ability to tag a patterns of activities are consistently repeated overtime. Change your pre-departure habits every now and then will help to reduce your dog’s anxiety.
Don’t Reinforce it. You don’t have to contribute to your dog’s separation anxiety by petting it before you leave or by giving it lavish attention when you return. This act only reinforces the dog’s anxious behavior. A dog’s separation anxiety can be eliminated if you can remove the connection between your arrival and departure from the lavish attention that you shower upon it each time you depart or arrive home. It is best to ignore your dog for at least 10 minutes as you get home, and don’t pet it before you leave. In short, simply ignore it no matter what it does to attract your attention. This anxiety elimination method can be perfected with the crate training or by simply putting your dog in a separate room to make it forget its attachment to the lavish attention you once accorded it.
Building Up to Longer Times. Alter your dog’s anticipations of your return. If the dog detects that you are about to leave, spend more time to stay before finally leaving, but do not pay attention to your dog on that period, because it will only add to its anxiety. You can also shorten the intervals that you will be away. Your dog’s anxiety will subside upon seeing you return within a short period. You can always extend the period that you will be away without your dog noticing it any longer.
You’re Not Being Mean
Separation anxiety in dogs is a behavior that should be stopped, and the way to eliminate it is not an act of cruelty. It is a way of helping your dog to behave normally and be free from stress. The act of altering predictable activity patterns and refraining from giving the dog lavish attention is a display of authority that the dog knows by instinct. Dogs that are free from anxiety and stress are happy pets.
It is important to note that persistent, severe anxiety issues warrants immediate action from you. Teaching your dog not to associate your departure or arrival with its sense of survival can greatly lessen its separation anxiety. It can be traced to a dog’s feeling of being abandoned.