Does your pooch bark or howl every time you’re out of the house? Does he get into trouble by destroying furniture, walls, shoes, etc? Does he try to escape his crate, or try to flee the house when you’re gone? Does he pace in a steady pattern? These could all be symptoms that signify your pup may be suffering from separation anxiety! But don’t worry, there are ways to help! Below we discuss what separation anxiety entails, the reasons why it manifests, and how to help our pups—and their owners—lead a brave and independent life!
What is Separation Anxiety:
According to Cesar’sWay, there are two types of separation anxiety: Simulated vs. Actual Separation Anxiety. Simulated anxiety is actually a learned behavior where your pup acts out because he wants attention. For example, when your pup acts badly, we as owners usually reprimand them. However, to some dogs, reprimanding could be a form of reward, since they’re finally feeling noticed. In order to eliminate simulated anxiety, you can use, “consistent obedience training, proper amounts of exercise, and strong leadership”. True separation anxiety however, is when your pup experiences absolute stress when you are away.
Potential Reasons Why True Separation Anxiety Occurs:
1.Exaggerated “hello’s” and “goodbye’s”
2.Changes in their routines, guardians, or households
4.Lack of exercise
5.Large amounts of time in boarding or at vets (for some)
How to Help:
1.Downplay “hello’s” and “goodbye’s”
Make your pup feel better about you leaving by not making it a big deal. You aren’t going to be gone forever, so it’s best not to make your dog think you are, by over-exaggerating the goodbye. Disregard saying, “don’t be sad” or, “mama’s gonna miss you”. Even though it’s hard to say bye to our furry kiddos, it’s even harder for them to wait in anticipation of your return.
2.Get Them Used to You Leaving
Your pup’s anxiety may arise once he senses you are about to leave. Perhaps this is in the form of you grabbing your keys or putting on your shoes. Maybe it’s even before that; when you begin to take a shower. It’s important to get your pooch used to these triggers. Therefore, according to Pets.WebMD.com, you should grab your keys, put on your shoes, or do whatever your pet’s trigger is, without actually leaving first. If you do this multiple times a day while remaining at home, your pup will get used to these triggers with less anxiety, therefore allowing you to begin to leave for periods at a time.
3.Get Them Used to You Being Gone
Once you have gotten your pup less triggered by the jingle of your keys, you can then begin to leave, though not completely. According to Pets.WebMD.com, it’s important to start small. You can start just by going on the other side of the door. “Ask your dog to stay, then close an inside door between you. Reappear after a few seconds… then increase the amount of time you’re gone.” Next, you can try the same thing, however pick up your keys and put on your shoes first! Yes, this does require a bit of patience. But what’s reward without patience? Once your pup is less anxious about you not being in the same room, you can graduate to actually leaving the house! Just remember to start small with small periods of time first.
4. Make Sure Your Pup Gets Exercise
Exercise is crucial into making a happy and tired dog. Tired dogs are less likely to feel the strong affects of anxiety as they do not have as much pent up energy! Therefore, it’s important to walk your dog before you leave for work. Furthermore, you can give your pooches puzzles when you’re gone so that they can also exert mental energy as well!
Medications may be administered in extreme cases. However, according to Cesar’sWay, it’s best to use the methods listed above first, as medications are only, “a temporary fix for the underlying problem”.
It’s always hard leaving your babies at home when you go off to the dreaded work place. However, it’s important to help your dog overcome separation anxiety with these helpful tips listed above. In order to gain independence as a dog owner, allowing your pup the ability to self –soothe his own anxieties will give him the confidence to relax during some much needed alone time! If you have any other helpful tips or suggestions, feel free to comment below!