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How to Handle Separation Anxiety in Dogs

It amazes a lot of us to know that dogs came from the family kingdom of wolves. We’ve come to get used to the fact that dogs, regardless of breed and size, are endearing creatures and nothing like the wolves with frightening traits as established in fairy tales and folklores like the Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. Despite dogs’ genetic makeup, humans have learned to turn them into domesticated pets. Dogs have become the man’s best friend. You love them for their loyalty, being a great company, the excitement they bring to your life, and the way they make you feel that you are important and very much needed. 

Separation Anxiety Explained

The time you spend with your dog makes it easy to understand why there’s separation anxiety. When your pet becomes overly attached to you and it stresses him to be left alone, your dog might have a separation anxiety condition. As a responsible dog owner, it’s a must to identify what’s causing your beloved pet to behave this way. Below are some of the common reasons:

Being alone for the first time or after a long time that they’ve always had a companion.

  • Having a different owner. 
  • Transferring to a new home.
  • Changes in family practices and schedule.
  • Missing family members.

How Dogs Behave When Having Separation Anxiety

Dogs behave differently when having separation anxiety. When you are heading out, your dog knows it. He may start destroying stuff. He may follow you wherever you go around the house. He will be looking at you with suspicion thinking you’ll go away anytime. Other signs of distress and undesirable behavioral changes when you leave them behind include howling, whining, barking, urination, defecation, digging, and scratching at windows or doors to get to the owners.

These are things your dog is not likely to do when you are around. At times they may act up but one who has separation anxiety can be seen with these signs almost all of the time. 

How Dog Separation Anxiety is Treated

You should pay your vet a visit if you suspect that your dog is having separation anxiety. The vet will confirm if the signs exhibited by your dog aren’t symptoms of a medical problem. The signs above may also be brought about by reasons not related to any medical condition or anxiety disorder. It could be caused by an accident or maybe a side effect of taking drugs. It is only upon the confirmation of the vet that you should begin treating your dog’s separation anxiety condition. 

What to do if the signs of separation anxiety are mild?

  • Reward your dog whenever you are to leave. 
  • Think of a treat you give him when you’re about to go, then take it back when you arrive. 
  • Go out of the house and arrive without making it look like a big deal.  
  • When you arrive, avoid giving your dog immediate attention. 
  • Let a shirt you’ve recently worn somewhere your dog can smell it so he can sense your presence even if you’re not really there. 
  • You may opt to give your dog some natural supplements that are made for calming
  • Don’t forget to consult with your vet first.

How to Deal With More Serious Dog Separation Anxiety

You can tell that a dog is having serious separation anxiety if he is no longer distracted by any form of treats. It may be very challenging on your end considering your closeness with your pet, but you have no choice but to make the dog used to you not being around. Try the following tips:

Since your dog gets nervous when you start showing signals that you’re about to go out like when you put on your shoes or your work clothes or when you grab your car keys, try doing it over and over but instead of going out, stay at home to ease his anxiety. 

When your pet learns to get used to seeing you doing those things without leaving, you can then begin to disappear. Slowly walk your way out of the house and talk to your dog calmly. Ask him to stay inside as you close the door behind. After a few seconds, go back inside and then leave again. Do it again and again making your disappearance a bit longer each time you leave.

Even in dogs, practice makes perfect so you better be patient in teaching him how to get used to your absence. 

Keep in mind that while some dogs can learn it fast, others will take time getting rid of separation anxiety.

What Not To Do With Dogs With Separation Anxiety

Some dog owners are training their dogs the wrong way. You should not punish your pet if he is acting up because of anxiety disordering. This condition is already making him suffer so giving him a punishment will never help. It can even worsen the situation. If you are thinking of getting another dog for a companion, it’s also not the answer. Your dog is anxious about being away from you and not from not having anyone to be with. Never make a drastic escape as this move will put you and your dog’s safety at risk. Stick to the tips above and you’ll be able to resolve your dog’s anxiety issues the healthy and safe way.

To prevent your dog from having an anxiety disorder, you should keep him healthy by having regular exercise. Teach your pup to accept the crate. Let him explore with your guide and discover the limits of his surroundings. As a pet owner, it’s a must to be aware of proper obedience training. You should know the right approach to instill discipline. A healthy dog is less likely to get easily anxious. Exercising your dog’s mental capabilities is also recommended. Learn about training games for dogs that promote mental health and wellness. If you think you need an expert’s help in resolving your dog’s separation anxiety issue, you better consult a specialist in animal behavior.