Top Solutions To Help Your Dog With Separation Anxiety
Most of the owners mistake separation anxiety with a disobedience, but if you’re someone who really wants to understand your dog, then this change in the behavior of your dog is something you should learn more about. While this is something you can change through training, it’s also something that is often neglected, simply for the lack of symptoms, or their misinterpretation. Since it’s still pretty common in families we decided to help you understand what is it, and how to treat it. Below you’ll find a proper definition as well as symptoms which indicate separation anxiety and in the end top solutions that will help your dog deal with it.
Definition of separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is a destructive behavior seen in dogs that are associated with aggressiveness. Most of the dogs experience it due to the inability to handle you leaving the house without them. While there are two types of separation anxiety, simulated and true separation anxiety, only one is truly harmful to your dog’s health. Simulated anxiety is more of a behavior your dog adapts seeing this way he gets more attention, and this is simply taken ad disobedience.
On the other hand, true separation anxiety is not something dog does willingly, it’s a product of stress, and requires several stages of training in order to overcome it. However, each type results in similar behavior, requiring your attention. Here are symptoms you should look out for when detecting separation anxiety.
Symptoms of separation anxiety
- Howling and barking (While this symptom doesn’t directly indicate stress, excessive barking and howling is surely something you need to pay attention to.)
- Physical signs (The most common physical signs that indicate stress are: dilated pupils, constant trembling, excessive salivating and pacing across the house.)
- Behavioral signs (The most common signs are:
- Scratching the walls, doors, and windows looking for a way out of the house
- Urinating and defecating around the house as well as tearing apart any piece of furniture available
- Expressing excessive amount of attention towards the owner upon their return)
Common misunderstandings considering separation anxiety
Even though separation anxiety isn’t something everyone is familiar with, some owners tend to jump to conclusions, labeling certain pattern of behavior as a separation anxiety even though it isn’t. Yes, certain behaviors can affect the perception, but in some cases, it just isn’t what you think it is. To make it even clearer, not all symptoms individually represent separation anxiety. Sometimes, it’s just a misconception. Here are some of the common misunderstandings considering separation anxiety.
- Destroying toys, or chewing on the object is not a symptom that concludes separation anxiety, some dogs simply do it because they’re bored.
- Also, if your dog is peeing in random places, it doesn’t necessarily mean separation anxiety, but rather a digestion problem, or problem in a diet.
- Excessive barking may indicate your dog never completed the training process, and while it may be caused by stress, it is rarely an isolated symptom pointing at separation anxiety.
Top solutions for separation anxiety
When discussing the methods that supposedly work with all dogs, it all comes back to simple things which are in the end only a part of a bigger picture, a puzzle in a training process. Most of the owners find a special training program to be unnecessary since the real issue is a habit. Your dog develops the habit of being depressed when lonely and is more sensitive to you leaving since he’s not used to that being a normal part of the life. If properly trained, your dog will get the hang of it quickly, which is why the accent is not only on the progress but also on the variation in methods.
Same things don’t work out with all breeds, which is why you need to try out a few options before you settle for the one you see provides immediate results. As a conclusion to an extensive research, we present you with top solutions to help your dog deal with separation anxiety.
1. Play the association game
Definitely one of the most effective ways of treating separation anxiety is the association game. Your dog often associates you putting on a jacket as a sign you’ll leave, so for a change try putting on your jacket and then sitting on a sofa for another half an hour. Also, grabbing your bag can be a sign as well, so simply try to prepare it sometime before you leave. Take a bag and carry it around for 20 minutes and then put on a coat only to repeat the process. This will surely throw off your dog, and they’ll find something else to entertain as they won’t register that you’re about to leave.
2. Chill out through the actual separation
Most of the owners make a fuss when entering or leaving the house, and this is usually why their dogs are harder to train. Your dog should accept you leaving as a normal, unexciting part of their day. Given that a lot of owners tend to be emotional, which their dog senses, and that often triggers them being emotional as well. Leave as that you’re not actually leaving, and see the results when your dog stops noticing it after a while. Even upon your arrival, avoid petting them immediately, but simply chill out, and let some time pass.
3. Take your dog out before you leave
Exercise is one of the most important parts of their day, and after that, just like humans, they get tired, which is an excellent way to adjust them to you leaving. Take your dog out for a walk, even if only for half an hour and you’ll see a difference. Exercise is also a playtime and personal time. Enjoy the time you spend walking your dog, and when you return home you’ll see they’ll soon get tired of jumping around and eventually retrieve to their corner.
4. Try room separation
One of the effective techniques is simulating a separation by leaving them in another room or turning your house into a mini world where your dog gets to see that you leaving is not a big deal. Locking yourself in a kitchen while your dog is in a bedroom for a few hours is one of the ideas. You even get to snack and surf while they adjust to the situation. This method can be used gradually. For instance, try leaving them for an hour and then increase it gradually, and we guarantee you’ll see a difference in behavior.
5. Get your dog a proper personal spot
Yes, we all love to cuddle with our pets, share our bed with them, but when it comes to treating separation anxiety, this is the opposite of what you should do. Your dog will feel lonely in your bed while you’re gone, which is why you should definitely find a corner for a dog bed. They don’t need to use it as much, but they should know this spot belongs to them, and that there they get to spend some alone time. So, they still get to sleep in your bed from time to time, but them having their own personal bed is more than advised, especially when dealing with separation anxiety.
6. Try music therapy
Music therapy is a new method in treating separation anxiety, and some owners report that it’s quite fruitful. However, when it comes to music therapy, it is to be used in later stages of the treatment. Playing calming music to your dog may or may not have a real effect, but slowly introducing it to them is guaranteed to work. Play the music when you’re there so a dog can associate it with a safe place. This will help them feel less lonely and it is more likely they’ll accept faster that you leaving is a normal thing.
7. Avoid long-term separation
If you’ve just bought a dog, the adjustment process is definitely the most important one. While we understand that you cannot take them to work with you, you should at least minimize your absence as much as possible, before you train them to deal with it. Separation anxiety often seems in dogs which change owners, and in the periods of long separation. You being absent for a day is not the same amount of time in dog years, so at least try not to leave your dog alone for too long, as that is surely one of the causes why separation anxiety appears.
8. Try calming them down with medicine
While drugs are not something you should decide on often, treating mild cases of separation anxiety with medicine is recommended. If your dog is experiencing severe health issues due to your departure, and techniques don’t seem to have much effect, try combining calming medicine. Of course, you need to consult with a wet before doing so, but in most of the cases, calming medicine is prescribed. Your dog will be much calmer which will allow you to adjust them to the training process, and by the time you take them off the medications, they’ll accept you leaving from time to time.
9. Look out for anti-anxiety accessories
Toys make things better, and even though it is a bit riskier than the other methods on this list, including anti-anxiety accessories is not a bad way to go. On the contrary, if you’ve reached a certain stage of training with your dog, then do not shy away from getting them one of these. Anti-anxiety toys are, if nothing, a good distraction for the dog while you leave, as they do give you more time to leave quietly. Still, make sure you get the toys from a reputable source and avoid finding cheap replacements. Your dog deserves the best, especially if dealing with a state such as separation anxiety.
10. Get them a Pebby
Pebby is another great way to keep your dog entertained and a great way to check up on the progress. Avoid using all the features it offers, but rather focus on those which will create a sense of individuality in your dog. Even though it may be tempting to communicate through it, avoid it, and rather stick to the games and features which are actually helpful. Make sure to check out the features of Pebby so you can make a detailed comparison between the other methods and it before you buy it.
11. Don’t forget to leave a scent item behind
Scent item technique is probably one of the best techniques you’ll find online. Leaving an item, a shirt or a jacket without washing it so your dog can enjoy your scent is one of the best ways to treat separation anxiety. Calming your dog may not be an easy process, but trying out this method cannot hurt. After all, ripping your clothes is way better than ripping apart the furniture, or self-harm. In any case, try this one out and see what good it brings.
12. Create a safe space inside the house
Setting up a separate bed for your dog is sometimes just not enough. It may be a safe place for them, but not necessarily, which is why you need to come up with space where you’ll train your dog to feel comfortable, and happy. It can be a corner or it can be a spare room. The point is they associate it with playful time, toys and treats. If you see a certain spot inside the house is doing the job, then make sure to give it a makeover, fill it with toys, and generally make it as comfortable and as entertaining as possible. Let your dog find it on their own, and get to work.
13. Get professional advice
Separation anxiety isn’t necessarily something you can solve on your own. Some cases do require a help of a dog behaviorist. Don’t hesitate to get help if you see no other method seems to work on your dog. Maybe you’ve simply taken the wrong approach, or maybe your dog needs professional care. In any case, a good piece of advice is not something you should skip on