Dogs are social creatures that thrive on companionship. Unfortunately, this means they can suffer separation anxiety when left alone. Symptoms of separation anxiety can include chewing, barking, howling, pacing, and destruction of property. But how do you prevent separation anxiety in dogs?
While giving your dog lots of attention may be tempting to prevent separation anxiety; this can worsen the problem. Dogs need to learn how to cope with being alone, which can be accomplished through positive reinforcement training. In this post, we will discuss separation anxiety, how to identify it in your dog, and some methods to prevent separation anxiety in dogs. Stay tuned!
What is separation anxiety in dogs?
Dogs are social animals, and most enjoy spending time with their human companions. However, some dogs may develop separation anxiety when their owners leave them alone. Separation anxiety is when a dog becomes excessively anxious and stressed when separated from its owner. Symptoms may include barking, howling, whining, pacing, chewing, scratching, and eliminating indoors. In severe cases, dogs may try to escape from their homes or become aggressive.
While separation anxiety is often thought of as a problem for puppies, it can affect dogs of any age. Fortunately, there are several things that owners can do to prevent or reduce separation anxiety in their dogs.
5 signs that your dog has separation anxiety
Everyone, even the family dog, is guilty of doing something foolish once in a while. On the other hand, if your dog exhibits the following symptoms whenever left alone at home, it may suffer from separation anxiety.
1. They are chewing up your possessions destructively.
Whether it's your favorite shoes or a brand-new couch, it can be challenging to see your things chewed up by your furry friend. In most cases, this destructive behavior is simply a result of separation anxiety.
Chewing is often their way of dealing with these feelings. While providing your dog with lots of toys and bones to chew on is essential, you will want to be patient. With time and effort, your dog will overcome separation anxiety and end the destructive chewing.
2. Barking, howling, and moaning.
When a dog is used to having humans around constantly, being left alone can be anxiety-provoking. Dogs often bark, howl, or moan when they're left alone, and this behavior is usually due to separation anxiety. As a result, some dogs will vocalize their discomfort in an attempt to get their pack members to come back.
3. Excessive drooling or panting
Dogs with separation anxiety often become anxious when they are away from their favorite person and may start to drool or pant excessively. Many dog owners are familiar with seeing their furry friends licking their lips or panting heavily. While this behavior is perfectly normal in some situations, such as when it's hot outside or after a meal, excessive drooling or panting can be a sign of separation anxiety.
4. Digging and scratching at windows or doors and escaping the house
It's nothing personal; your dog misses you. Separation anxiety often manifests in destructive behaviors like scratching and digging at doors and windows. This can be highly frustrating for pet owners, who often come home to find their beloved furry friend has caused damage to their home. In some cases, pets may even escape in an attempt to find their guardians.
5. Pacing before you leave, while you're away, and when you get home
To expend extra energy, some dogs would pace back and forth to relieve boredom when their humans are gone. However, pacing can also signify other underlying issues, such as stress, fear, or medical problems.
Separation anxiety in rescue dogs
Rescue dogs often come from difficult backgrounds. They may have been abandoned by their previous owners or left alone for long periods of time.
As a result, separation anxiety is a common problem in rescue dogs. The good news is that there are ways to help your rescue dog overcome separation anxiety. Your rescue dog can learn to enjoy being away from you with patience and training.
6 Ways how to prevent separation anxiety in dogs
Whether the separation anxiety in your dog is slight or severe, you can help reduce it over time. Here are a few methods on how to prevent separation anxiety in dogs that could be effective for your dog. You can test them one at a time or in conjunction with others. It's worthwhile to try each one and determine which one works best for your dog.
1. Reduce triggers
Dogs can detect signs that you are leaving the house since they are very clever animals. They could become upset when they witness you take your keys, leave the house, and do other actions.
To lessen separation anxiety, desensitize your dog by picking up your keys and jingling them at odd times of the day, but don't leave home. You may also leave by closing the door, walking out, and returning a short while later. Whatever the triggers are for your dog, use them randomly rather than leaving your dog for a regular period. If you do this for a few weeks, your dog will start associating these behaviors with a regular thing instead of abandonment.
2. Slowly extend your time away
Increase the time you wait before coming back once you can go outside. If your dog seems uneasy after five minutes after you leave, try practicing being out for four and a half minutes instead. Keep doing this until your dog is ready to go longer.
Continue doing this until your dog can spend at least 30 to 60 minutes at home alone without exhibiting any symptoms or destructive behaviors. This is a reliable sign that your dog won't experience separation anxiety for extended periods.
3. Crate train your anxious dog
The crate provides a safe and secure space for your dog to relax, and the training process can help build their confidence. Start by introducing your dog to the crate and letting them explore it at their own pace, and feed them every meal in the crate. Once they are comfortable, close the door for a few seconds while you stay nearby. Gradually increase the time you are away until your dog is comfortable being in the crate for up to a few hours. You can help your dog overcome separation anxiety and enjoy a happier, healthier life with patience and consistency.
4. Use caution when making exits and entrances
When you leave or enter your house, it's crucial to maintain your composure. You may give your dog a kind greeting, but try not to become overly excited.
Give your dog a warm welcome and goodbye, but avoid treating every encounter with your dog as if it were your last because it might be stressful for your dog.
5. Exercise your dog
Exercise is just as beneficial for a human's mental health as it is for canines! According to The Humane Society, reducing anxiety and stress requires physical activity and cerebral stimulation.
One of the best ways to prevent separation anxiety is to ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog, and a dog that's used to being active is less likely to feel anxious when left alone. So get out there and play with your pup! It's good for both of you.
6. Give your dog a satisfying, durable treat.
Puzzle toys can keep your dog's attention while you're gone since they take time and effort to get to the goodies. You can fill a kong chew toy with peanut butter and freeze it. Before leaving, take it out of the freezer and place it in the dog's crate. They will be distracted with their fun snack and won't realize you're leaving. Do this even if you are home to get them used to enjoying a treat in their crate.
Your dog will eventually start to link this unique, earned treat with your departure, which is good! They'll be so thrilled to get this surprise that they won't be sorry to see you leave the house.
How to aid separation anxiety in dogs with CBD Oil
A whole line of CBD products generated from hemp is available at Alive Market. These products are popular for humans and animals, including canines and felines. Products from Alive Market may help alleviate separation anxiety, reduce inflammation, pain, and soreness, increase calm and focus for training and behavior modification, nurture the skin and coat, and support the nervous, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and immune systems. These benefits may be significant for animals displaying signs of stress due to changes in their routines.
When left alone, dogs might develop separation anxiety. Destruction, vocalization, and elimination are some of the dogs' main symptoms of separation anxiety. Pet parents may do a few things to make their pets more comfortable when left alone. Training your dog to be alone will significantly reduce stress and separation anxiety. Do you have a dog showing some early signs of separation anxiety? Share your story in the comments below!