Does your dog hate being left alone?
Does your Dog find the experience of being left alone very stressful and overwhelming?
This is commonly known as separation anxiety
There can be many contributing factors that can lead to this and no two dogs are the same, so in order to help your dogs experience we need to diagnose what exactly is the issue in order to understand it
For many dogs, just like us humans the separation related behaviour is caused purely out of boredom. The lack of both physical and mental interaction can result in your dog acting out
But for many dogs the separation-related issues are a little more complex
If your dog has a significant emotional attachment they will start to worry when you leave them.
This is largely as the dog has the overwhelming feeling of abandonment leading to fear and frustration
Your dog picks up on certain patterns, for instance the routine you follow before you leave the house. Knowing that they are about to be separated from you may lead to the anxious behaviour beginning before you leave
It is important that you take the time to get to the cause of the reasons of your dogs behaviour.
This will allow you to apply the correct training that will see an up turn in behaviour over time.
These things are a delicate process and will not be fixed over night .
There are certain tell tale signs that will indicate that your dog is stressed. Identifying them and treating them is the ultimate key to your dogs happiness and well being
What are the signs that my dog is stressed?
- Excessive panting
- Tail between legs
- Lip licking
- Ears pinned back
- Paw raises
How do I know what causes my dogs separation anxiety?
Identifying separation anxiety can be tricky.
As most of this behaviour occurs when you are not present to witness it happening firsthand.
One great technique is to install a home camera that will enable you to see what your dog is doing when you are not home.
This will ultimately allow you to zone in on the actual cause of the problem. The most common causes are very simple, the postal workers arrival, a neighbours dog barking, a bus pulling up, and so on
If these are the the causes you can then look into solutions to counter the problem
The most common causes of separation anxiety are :
Dogs are like humans and require certain levels of physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy. A lack of both will certainly see a negative impact on their overall behaviour.
If your dog has a naturally high level of energy that is not being used up, once they are left alone they will find it very difficult to switch off.
Once your dog runs out of the limited things they have available to occupy their mind they will start to apply this energy elsewhere.
Usually in the form of digging or chewing whatever is in site
Dogs find it very hard to express their frustration. If your dog becomes frustrated it will usually begin to act out
Keeping an eye on the things that can cause your dog to become frustrated is key.
Environmental factors can contribute to this and it can be as simple as your dogs desire to get to a passing cat or bird
There inability to achieve what they want to do, in this case chase the wildlife, will leave them hugely frustrated
Another common reason for a dogs frustrated is the absence of their ownerd attention.
Your dog will try to recreate your attention and comfort in other ways.
Fear and Anxiety
Actions such as putting your coat on, or your shoes, and picking up keys can come to act as signals to your dog and may trigger the same response
Your dog has a long memory. For good experiences and unfortunately the bad ones too. If your dog has had a bad experience in the past while being alone they will find the prospect of being left alone a scary one
In these cases you will commonly find the following behaviours of howling, barking and most common of all…. Toilet accidents.
Again, most of these will happen only when you are not around but should your dog pick up on a routine they may start to exhibit these behaviours in anticipation of your departure.
Ways to help with Separation Anxiety
START YOUR TRAINING
We need to work out one simple question. How long is my dog happy on their own before their separation anxiety begins.
Take simple steps, for instance cloe a door behind you to stop your dog from following you.
How does your dog react?
If they are showing no signs of stress after a period of time you can use this as your starting point for how long they are comfortable alone
One thing you should always remember is your dogs anxiety is not their fault. They are asking you for help. Negative reaction to their behaviour may make the problem worse and ultimately tey may start to become anxious about you coming home
Before you begin any form of separation anxiety training you should always consider the following:
- Try and walk or complete regular exercise with your dog. Dogs love to have a social life as much as us humans, if they are capable of doing so, interact with other dogs as much as possible
- Keep your dog occupied when you are not around. There are great products to help with this such as Kongs, Snuffle Mats, treat balls ect
- Create your dog their own space to relax. This should try and be out of site of passing traffic that may disturb your dog causing them to become frustrated .
- Ensure that your dog has been to toilet especially if they are not going to be able to go for some time
If these are all in place then we are in the best place to begin the separation anxiety training
- Remember to keep things simple and work within your dogs capabilities. It is very likely that the early training you wont actually be leaving the house. Again this is to establish at what point does the problem begin
- Try to utilise the products that will engage your dogs interest. Give them this in the room that you will be leaving them in, ensuring they are engaged before you attempt to leave
- If your dog is now occupied with this, do not give them to much fuss and leave quietly
- Once you reenter the room, calmy greet your dog, making sure to keep a calm atmosphere
- Taking baby steps, repaet the process but increase the amount of time that you are separated from your dog
- You will start to find that your dog is gettimg more content in their own company. Which should allow you to begin to leave the house following your normal routine
BUILD YOUR DOG’S CONFIDENCE
Does your dog become anxious and scared at the thought of being left alone?
This could be an issue with their confidence. Dogs are just like humans in this aspect, the more they receive praise their confidence will improve and ultimately become content on their own
Taking the time to learn a new trick with your dog is a great way to boost their confidence. Praise will ultimately boost their self confidence
Rewarding independent behaviour is also a great way to show your happy with their behaviour and will lead to them settling theirselves down.
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