Having a dog is a blessing, but also a responsibility. This means that not only you get to play with the funny little fuzz ball, but you also need to look after them when something is wrong. How? Well, apart from the vet checks, mental health of your dog is something that needs attention. Some dogs develop anxiety and even suffer from depression, which means that some of their actions are only a manifest of the condition. So, what are the most common conditions? Well, when talking about mental health, it’s definitely separation anxiety.
Sometimes, we fail to notice when our dogs are sending out signals, and we neglect that for a misbehaving. We may even try to punish them in order for them to learn the lesson. Well, that’s plain wrong, as most of the dogs never act out without a purpose. It may be nothing, yet it can easily develop into something more serious.
So, get your notes and start writing down the following exposition. We decided to find out all there is to know about separation anxiety, and most importantly, how to treat it. Brace up, for there is a whole lot of clarity coming your way.
What is a separation anxiety in dogs?
The condition known as separation anxiety is usually related to aggressive behavior. If you’ve noticed your dog is becoming insufferable, tearing everything in their way, then you might have a problem. Separation anxiety is usually related to the depression dogs experience when you leave them.
How many times did you return from work to witness a complete mess? We know we did, and we wondered what the hell happened here. Or, did you ever noticed your dog cannot calm down when you’re about to leave the house for work? It usually comes with howling, barking and scratching, and let’s just say, it’s not good for the environment.
When it comes to separation anxiety treatment, it’s important to exclude the simulated separation anxiety, yet another condition that dogs develop. Simulated separation anxiety is related to the lack of attention, which means your dog is basically misbehaving I order to attract your attention or earn your admiration. Simulated anxiety is also treated, but usually with simple training lessons with the help of professional, and it doesn’t take long for your dog to realize how things work.
On the other hand, true separation anxiety is not something dog does willingly, and it’s not something they can fight off easily. It requires more than training to overcome this condition, and most of the times, we use different methods in combination to get the ultimate result since each method represents a different dimension. Yet, it takes time for your dog to adjust to the process, and it takes patience for you to get through it before damage is irreparable.
How to recognize the symptoms?
Recognizing the symptoms is the hard part, as sometimes dog manifests the symptoms, but they’re not a true reflection of a separation anxiety, which is why you need to be careful when tracking your dog’s daily behavior. Here are some of the most common symptoms of separation anxiety.
Excessive howling and barking are also one of the symptoms of separation anxiety, and while this is not the main symptom that’ll help you recognize if your dog is truly suffering from a separation anxiety it surely is a way for you to see what are they trying to communicate.
If you leave the house and walk down the street, and still hear your dog howling from the window, chances are they suffer from depression and possibly a separation anxiety. Dogs express sadness differently, but they’re clear when it comes to their relationships with humans, which is why you need to consider other factors as soon as possible.
Excessive attention is also one of the signs to look out for. If your dog is making a fuss about you leaving for work, or boycotting the food while you’re away, then the problem is real. If you decide on a professional sitter, and the state doesn’t change, it’s possible your dog is suffering from a lot more than a simple misbehaving. If they don’t respond to the toys when approached by a pet sitter, but they get overly excited when they see you, you should definitely be worried.
On the other hand, if you cannot let go of them when you’re leaving, smothering them with cuddling, you might also be part of the problem. We know you love them, but give them time to adjust to their home, and to the changes in their environment.
Common physical symptoms are also something to look out for. If your dog is trembling when you meet, or if they’re salivating all over the house, these might be the red light for the separation anxiety. However, it doesn’t have to mean that’s it, as there are other symptoms which need to be inspected as well, such as defecating and urinating the furniture inside the house.
If your dog is already trained professionally, these should not be the problems in the first year, but if they occur after a while they are alarming, possibly in relation to separation anxiety.
Behavioral changes are also something you need to watch out for. If your dog is scratching the walls more than usual when you’re away, or if they are tearing apart the door glazing, chances are they’re trying to get out on their own, in order to follow you. As they cannot do that on their own, they stay by the door suffering mood changes and eventually going after the furniture.
Top 6 Solutions for Separation Anxiety
1. In-house training
The core of training is the part that you do it on your own which means that coming up with a training is not only a warm-up but also the first step to recovery. Luckily, the owners and experts teamed up and found an easy solution, a few methods that worked out just fine.
The first one is definitely adjusting your dog to the loneliness in the house. We know the cuddling season is on, but trust the professionals, and try sitting in a different room on your own, locked up, while your dog is in another room. It’s not only proven to be effective but also easy. Once a dog is used to being in a room without you while acknowledging you’re in another room, the things will go for the better.
Another training method includes adjusting them to you leaving, as that is not a big deal. Avoid cuddling goodbyes, and songs, it only makes things worse. Instead, try putting on your coat and taking your keys only to sit down at the chair and chill while ignoring your dog. This will throw them off and they won’t even notice you0’re about to leave. Eventually, they’ll learn you going to a job is no0t something permanent but a normal part of their daily life.
2. Pebby Cherry Smart Ball
If you’re looking for a gadget solution, the answer is right in front of you, a smart ball. Introducing smart toys into the training process has proven to be the most efficient way of dealing with the aggressive behavior I general, given you’re the one controlling the situation. It surely is a good solution, if you’re willing to pay a price for your dog to get through it.
3. Exercise before departing
Tiring your dog before you leave is also one of the solutions to the problem. Try scheduling your walks before you depart, and avoid any additional stress. Your dog will fall asleep as long as you’re home, and you’ll be able to leave without them tearing the place apart while trying to get out.
If you cannot take them for a walk at the moment, at least try tiring them with games and toys, anything that will put them to sleep soon. Once they’re low on energy, they won’t be able to perceive the situation as sharply, which will give you time to leave for work.
4. Relax with music
While some avoid music in order to avoid any additional physical stress, some owners have found that playing a calming music on stereo really helps in treating separation anxiety, which is why this became one of the solutions worldwide.
However, if you’re afraid that stereo is not a good way to go due to the predictability, why don’t you try radio? Simple, old-fashioned, but also a good idea, given that you are not in control when it comes to radio. Also, your dog is more likely to associate a human voice with obedience, which makes it easy for you, especially if you live in a flat.
5. Clothing and Bedding
With the variety of products available out there, finding the one that really helps may be a challenge, but you cannot deny that there are plenty of options for you to choose from. So, when it comes to calming the aggression, there is a wide selection of products such as anxiety jackets or anxiety collars.
These work in a way that they relieve your dog of stress, often with the chemical infusions or simply through technology. Anxiety collars are a popular choice among the owners who are looking to treat separation anxiety. However, when it comes to controlling, this treatment cannot be used on severe cases of separation anxiety. Still, they do make a solid choice for those who know how to deal with their dog.
On the other side, bedding is as equally important, given one of the causes of separation anxiety is that you let your dog sleep in your bed. A separate bed may be a hard but the right choice for the situation. While your dog may refuse it at the start, there are ways to get them to sleep on their own.
One of them is a calming pillow. This method requires you to sleep with a purchased dog pillow for a few days in order for the pillow to have your odor. This way, your dog will associate the smell with a safe place, where he can run off when feeling alone.
Introducing medication to their diet doesn’t necessarily mean your dog will get better at once, or that you’re switching from organic to chemical, but it does mean you’re going to start paying attention to pet calming selection in your local pet shop.
Medications are there to help out with certain symptoms, not all of them, but they do eventually pass as an individual solution. Also, they’re not necessary pills or syrups. Introducing calming treats to your dog’s breakfast also does the trick, as long as you’re there to track the results.
Speaking of natural remedies, essential oils are also something you’ll want to have around, and while your dog may respond to the oils if served as food, a drop or two on their body won’t matter to them. However, essential oil has proven quite useful when it comes to treating the separation anxiety.
Essential oils do have a calming result when it comes to minimizing the trembling. You’re also probably going to see a difference on pupils as they no longer will be dilated. Another way of utilizing the calming oils is air diffuser. You can get one of these in the pet shop as well, as there are special Dog air diffusers as well. They do work, but can sometimes cause an allergic reaction with the other members of the household such as kids.
Dogs need our love and attention, but if you’re doing it the wrong way, you’re signing your dog p for a whole lot of issues, as anxiety will eventually take its due when it comes to health. So, find a way to love them without risking the separation anxiety. We know it’s possible, and you know it’s possible. Find your favorite solution, and try it out. It’s never late to start with a new training process and save your dog on time. After all, dogs do make our life a happier place, wouldn’t you agree?