Separation anxiety in dogs can be a serious problem that causes stress to both you and your dog. If left untreated, it can also start to cause serious health problems as some of the destructive habits they develop as a result of separation anxiety can cause real damage to them.
Learning how to properly deal with separation anxiety and treat the root of the problem is the best way to make both your and your dog’s life happier and healthier. Read through our quick guide to get some tips on how to manage the problem.
Some owners will mistake the symptoms of separation anxiety as simply the behavior of a disobedient or uncontrollable dog. It’s important to recognize what you are dealing with so that you can begin working with your dog to treat it.
Treatment of separation anxiety is far more effective than simply punishing your dog every time you come home to a mess or a complete disaster.
The symptoms of separation anxiety include:
Effectively crate training your dog is a good way to both teach your dog how to accept being alone sometimes and prevent destructive behavior from causing damage in your home. Make sure you don’t leave him in the crate too long however as this can lead to worse problems.
The symptoms will usually start when your dog recognizes the routine you normally do before you leave. If you mix up your routine each day, it will be harder for him to recognize. Exit through different doors. Leave your key and coat in different places. Don’t allow him to follow you everywhere as you go about your activities in the house.
Start in small ways to make him more comfortable with being by himself. When you are home, don’t allow him to follow you around all the time. Try to be in separate rooms for some time.
This will allow him to feel more secure because he knows you are still in the house so it will be easier for him to tolerate being by himself.
Obedience training is one of the most important things you can do to make separation anxiety easier to treat. If your dog doesn’t obey basic commands like stay or come, you’ll have a difficult time implementing many of the strategies for dealing with separation anxiety.
The process of obedience training will also give your dog confidence and assurance because they will know exactly what they can do to please you.
Toys (especially treat filled toys) are a good way to keep your dog occupied and entertained while he is by himself. The more things he has to keep himself busy while you’re gone, the more he will start to enjoy his alone time. Do what you can to make this time by himself a positive experience rather than something to be nervous about.
If the problem continues to worsen despite your best efforts, medication may be the right choice. You can talk to your vet about getting a medication that will calm your dog. But this should not be used as a permanent solution. Use medication as a tool to help make training more effective.