Separation Anxiety – Causes, Signs and Solutions
If you have a dog, you know how hard it can be to leave them alone. Whether it’s going for a walk or to the vet, it can be stressful.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can help your dog cope when you have to leave them behind. Read on to learn about some of the signs of separation anxiety and how to get your dog back to calm and content when you’re away.
If you’ve ever watched a dog with separation anxiety, you probably know they can be extremely destructive. They can chew on doors, walls, furniture, and more to escape their anxiety, often going to extremes that can put them in danger of injury.
Puppies can develop separation anxiety for a variety of reasons, but some puppies are more predisposed than others to developing this condition. These dogs might have been rescued from an animal shelter or have had a traumatic event occur in their lives (like a robbery) that left them feeling anxious or stressed.
When a dog suffers from separation anxiety, they tend to become distressed when its owner leaves for an extended period of time, or even just when their owner goes on vacation. They also may bark or whine when they know their owner is coming back home.
Fortunately, this is a very treatable behavior issue that can be addressed in a number of ways. If you suspect your pup might be suffering from separation anxiety, you can start by addressing their stress in a calm, loving manner.
1. Never punish or scold them for their behavior.
When your pup is anxious or distressed, they are not trying to get your attention — they’re scared and need some help coping with this situation. Punishing them will only make the problem worse and they will be far less likely to learn how to cope with it in a positive way.
2. Train them to be less anxious about you leaving.
If you believe your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, begin training them to be less worried about you leaving by using desensitization and counterconditioning techniques. These can take a lot of work and commitment on your part, but they can be extremely effective in easing your puppy’s fears and reducing their anxiety levels.
If you’ve recently gotten a puppy, it’s normal to have moments when you feel like you wish you had never made that decision. The term “puppy blues” refers to those feelings.
If the puppy blues are persistent and you’re feeling hopeless, it may be time to see a mental health professional. The symptoms are generally milder than those of clinical depression, but they can still affect your daily functioning.
In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help your dog cope with separation anxiety. For example, counterconditioning is a treatment that can be helpful in changing your dog’s reaction to separation from anxious to excited.
To do this, you’ll need to train your dog to associate your absence with something positive. This might include rewards, food, or toys.
For example, you can play fetch with your dog or give him a treat after he gets up from his bed. By slowly increasing the length of time that you leave him alone, you can help him to learn to cope with being away from you and reduce his separation anxiety.
But it’s important to note that each pet is unique and reacts to separation differently, so you need to judge how long your dog can tolerate before they become stressed.
Some dogs may be able to handle an increase in the length of separation while others will get anxious and have trouble coping with it. To avoid this, be sure to wait a few minutes between each short separation session and only leave your dog for longer periods of time when they’re fully relaxed and calm.
Puppies with separation anxiety may have a hard time settling down when they’re left alone, so it’s important to make their daily routine calmer and more predictable. That means they should be able to predict when they can expect attention, such as food, training and play.
The most effective method for treating this condition is desensitization and counterconditioning. This process involves exposing your dog to their triggers in brief, tolerable increments that allow them to respond by calming down.
This approach is proven to help dogs with separation anxiety by helping them build the ability to react to their triggers without feeling frustrated or distress. It also helps dogs learn to relax and settle down when they’re not around their guardians, making them less likely to exhibit destructive behaviors in the future.
Some dogs with severe cases of separation anxiety need to be treated with medications, so you’ll need to talk to your vet before beginning any treatment options. They may be able to prescribe a medication that’s safe for your pup and can help them settle down quickly when you’re gone.
Another common method for treating this problem is crate training. This method can be highly effective in reducing the stress of being separated from you, but it’s important to focus on crate training as a positive experience for your dog before moving on to other elements of a separation anxiety treatment program.
Alternatively, you can try taking your dog on a long walk or run before leaving them home alone. This will help them release some of their pent-up energy and prevent them from being tempted to chew your belongings when you’re away.
Puppy separation anxiety is a common problem. It’s like the human equivalent of a panic attack in dogs – they become anxious and upset when left alone. The best way to avoid this problem is by introducing them to regular times when they can be alone, such as in their own dog crate or bed, and teaching them that this is safe and normal.
Getting a puppy used to being alone early will help them to adapt better when they are suddenly left on their own. You can try leaving them in a safe area for 5 minutes and gradually increasing the time until they are happy to be on their own for an hour.
You can also use a box with toys, an old blanket or food-ball to keep them busy while you’re away. The goal is to keep your puppy happy while you’re gone and give them something to look forward to when you get home.
In addition to separation anxiety, there are other reasons your dog might be acting unruly. Health conditions, such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, sore teeth, thyroid problems, epilepsy/seizures, ear infections, digestive issues, skin or environmental allergies, yeast infection, hearing loss, eye damage, cancer and more can cause your dog to act out or be unruly.
Your veterinarian can determine the underlying cause of your dog’s behavior. In some cases, your veterinarian will prescribe medication that will reduce aggression or other behaviors and improve your dog’s condition.
Some puppies will display aggressive and destructive behavior as a part of their puppy play phase. This can include chasing, pouncing, barking, growling, and biting. However, this can also be a normal stage in a dog’s development and will pass soon enough.
If your dog is having a sleepy attack, it could be a sign that they are experiencing separation anxiety. This condition is usually treated successfully, but it’s important to seek help from your veterinarian if the symptoms persist.
It can be hard to spot these episodes in the early stages because dogs tend to sleep through them, but they should be able to wake up for things they usually enjoy, such as trips outside, playtime, treats or meals. If they do not seem to want to wake up for these activities, it’s a sign that they are suffering from something more serious.
Symptoms can also be caused by a variety of medical conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders, neurological disorders, seizures, and even cancer. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect that your puppy is experiencing this issue.
The best way to treat this type of situation is to provide them with the care and attention they need, which includes socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to new situations and sounds at an early age, so that they are prepared for everything that comes their way.
Another solution is to keep your pup in a small, pet-proofed room when you are out of the house or on an extended trip. This will help them learn that you are not abandoning them when you leave and that being away from them is a normal part of life for them.
If you do need to leave your pup for longer periods of time, try hiring a pet sitter or taking them to doggy daycare. This will make them more comfortable and reduce their symptoms. It’s also a great way to ensure that they are getting enough physical and mental stimulation while you’re away.