Separation anxiety is when your dog exhibits stress and behavioral problems when left alone for extended periods. It is not the same as boredom, and unlike doing some little acts of mischief, this is the result of legitimate stress. Separation anxiety, simply speaking, is triggered when dogs miss their owner. It is important to deal with dog separation anxiety early to ensure your dog’s psychological well-being.
How to tell if your dog has separation anxiety?
If your dog exhibits behaviors like nonstop barking, drooling, peeing or pooping in the middle of the room, chewing/tearing up all the stuff he can, and scratches walls and floors, he is stressed. Furthermore, when he shows depression, lacks appetite, becomes ill and suffers from depression, and, sometimes, even self-inflicts pain, he may be suffering from separation anxiety.
Behaviors like nonstop barking, drooling, chewing/tearing up all the stuff are signs of separation anxiety
If the dog has a case of separation anxiety, you will be able to witness how much stress that causes them. They aren’t just suffering from tremendous psychological stress, but their action/behavior can physically injure them. This behavior can get worse if not treated immediately.
The Right Approach to Deal with dog separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is a disorder that ranges in severity from mild to super extreme. It’s not simply frustration or boredom, but distress. Before you can deal with dog separation anxiety, you need to identify the severity.
Mild separation anxiety: If your dog gets anxious and upset as you get ready to leave for work/school, it may follow you around, and when you leave, your dog might just go to its bed and lie down, seems to be depressed. These anxious behaviors are limited on how your dog acts.
If your dog gets anxious and upset as you get ready to leave for work/school, he may encounter mild separation anxiety
Severe Separation Anxiety: If the dog starts to whine, cry or panic as you get ready to leave for work/school, they may try to escape or jump at you. In this case, your dog may continue to panic even after you leave. Drooling, howling, nonstop barking, whining, urinating, are some of the multiple symptoms associated with anxiety. For separation anxiety this severe, it is best to consult the help of a professional dog trainer to deal with dog separation anxiety properly.
If the dog starts to whine, cry or panic as you get ready to leave for work/school, they may face with severe separation anxiety
A Proper Routine
For mild separation anxiety, you need to somehow communicate to your dog that he will be left alone for some time with the promise that you’ll eventually return. Since no one has figured out dog language yet, it is best to communicate this to him by establishing a fixed routine before leaving.
Before leaving him, take your dog for a walk. Consider making the exercise more rigorous through using a dog backpack with extra weight in it. This exercise aims to tire your dog so that he will not have enough energy to worry about being alone but instead just sleep it off.
Take your dog for a walk before leaving him so that he will not have enough energy to worry about being alone
Before leaving and when coming back, do not make a big deal out if. Do not say goodbye, do not have eye contact at least five minutes to an hour before leaving and after you get back. This approach is tough and sounds cruel, and so you could compromise this approach by saying goodbye long in advance. Sincere as it sounds, though, this display is for the owner, not the dog. Your dog won’t have his feelings hurt when you don’t say goodbye.
Another way to deal with dog separation anxiety is to leave your dog alone for five minutes and slowly extending this time until you can get a full eight hours away without any problems. Another surprising trick is to leave your dog with some audiobooks or podcasts when you’re away. Although it is doubtful whether your dog will become smarter when you get back, it has been proven through studies that the sound of human voices reduces your dog’s stresses while you’re not at home.
Leave your dog alone for five minutes and slowly extending this time until you can get a full eight hours away without any problems
Lastly, you could do out-of-sight stay exercises to deal with dog separation anxiety. Start by telling your dog to sit in the bathroom while you go the other side of the bathroom door. Slowly increase the length of time you wait out of your dog’s sight. Elaborate the practice drill further by picking up your coat and purse and going into another room while your dog continues to stay. Slowly increase the time you are in the other room until the dog is completely at ease by himself.
By following the tips to deal with dog separation anxiety enumerated above, you surely will alleviate the separation anxiety of your dog. Remember that it will take time and a lot of patience. Never scold or punish your dog as it will only distress your dog even further. Have fun helping your dog and remember that all time spent together, with or without results, will always benefit your relationship with him—and your dog will surely appreciate that.