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Does your dog destroy furniture, defecate, or chew on your shoes when you are away? Does he seem to worry and follow you from room to room when you are about to leave the house?
If your answer is yes and you are not aware of why your dog is showing such behavior, then you must know that this could be a sign of separation anxiety in your four-legged pooch.
Separation anxiety is a situation in which dogs exhibit panic-struck and destructive behavior when left alone, and most pet parents usually mistake it for other behavioral problems.
Some of the most common behavior among dogs suffering from separation anxiety include:
- Destructive chewing
- Defecating in the house
- Whining, barking, and howling
- Scratching, chewing, and digging at the doors and windows (an attempt to reunite with the owners)
Well, it is essential to treat separation anxiety among dogs because it helps them feel calm and relaxed.
What triggers separation anxiety in dogs?
One cannot exactly say why some dogs are more prone to the problem of separation anxiety than others. But you must know that if your dog is showing the symptoms of separation anxiety, then it is just a panic response when your dog does not find you around.
Some of the best scenarios to trigger separation anxiety in dogs include:
- Changes in pet parents
- Being left alone for the first time
- Addition of a new pet in the family
- Death of a pet friend or family member
- Being left alone when he is habitual of living with humans constantly
How to treat separation anxiety in dogs?
Treating separation anxiety in your dog does not necessarily mean that you need a medical professional because, with a little persistence and dedication, you can succeed on your own.
Now, as a pet parent, you have to focus on finding the best calming treatment for your little friend, which may induce behavioral changes and help your pup learn that being alone is not at all bad.
1. Change your usual going away signs
The first thing to consider while trying to treat separation anxiety in your dog is to break your dog’s association with your departure actions.
If your usual signs before leaving the house are putting the shoes and coat on, picking car keys and purse from a designated spot, and going by locking the front door, then you may start by using a different exit to move out of the house, putting your shoes and coat on but not leaving, or keeping your car keys in a different spot.
The goal here is not to let the separation anxiety trigger in your dog. You may also consider giving your pup a toy to play with or his favorite treat to keep him distracted.
2. Tire out your dog
One of the best ways to keep your dog calm after you leave is to make him tired because a tired dog remains calm.
So, prefer exercising your dog for at least 30 minutes before your departure. Doing this will help your dog feel relaxed, and his focus will shift towards food and sleep.
But while you focus on keeping your dog busy and active to tire him out, make sure you indulge him in both physical and mental exercises.
3. Downplay your departure and arrivals
People generally start showing affection (hugging, kissing, patting, etc.) to their dog before leaving and comes back with their arms wide open to hug their furry friend. Unfortunately this can lead to a higher chance of separation anxiety in dogs.
Well, it sounds good and feels amazing while you do that. But, it unknowingly creates big trouble for your pup when you are not around.
So, do not show too much affection to your dog when you are about to leave him and come back home overexcited to meet him. When you pay too much attention to your dog while leaving the house, and after coming back, you reinforce the fear of your absence in your dog. Thus, say a calm goodbye to your pup while leaving and greet him quietly when you come back.
4. Create your dog’s personal space
Instead of sleeping with your pup, get him a separate bed. This will teach your dog to enjoy some time alone and not be dependent on you, which will eventually help him to get rid of separation anxiety problems.
Besides creating a personal space for your dog, train him to be alone even when you are in the house. Make him stay in a room while you are in another. This will help him enjoy his time alone in the home and not look for you all the time.
5. Leave comfort and engaging cues around the house
Leave dirty laundry with your scent on it to serve as a calming cue for your dog. This will help your dog feel relaxed and he will know that you are going to come back.
Also, hide treats around the house so that your dog gets engaged in hunting them while you are away. You may also leave peaceful nature sounds on, which will soothe your dog and help him fall asleep.
Prefer reading: Ways to help dogs with separation anxiety.
While you try to relax your dog and help him get rid of separation anxiety issues, do remember that there is no magic guide to cure the problem immediately. A long-lasting cure requires commitment and dedication on your end.
So, do not get irritated if the process takes time.
What won’t help
Punishment: Do not punish your dog for showing disastrous behavior as it will not help you in any way but will worsen the situation.
Crating: Putting your dog in a crate is not a safe go-to option because he might urinate, defecate, or even injure himself in an attempt to escape.
Obedience training: Yes!! Formal training for your dog is a good idea, but separation anxiety is not the result of a lack of discipline.
Another pet: Getting another pet might not help your anxious dog since separation anxiety is not because of being alone but the result of separation from you.