Important Things To Consider Before Deciding On A Treatment Plan
Before start thinking aboutcanine separation anxiety treatment,you need to discuss the issue with your vet to rule out the possibility of any medical issues.
Hormone problems, infections, or other types of health conditions can make dogs vulnerable to accidents in the house. Incomplete housebreaking can be a reason for a dog getting injured.
Certain medications can cause accidents. Other behavior problems to be ruled out are submissive/excitement urination, urine marking, juvenile destruction, incomplete house training, boredom, and excessive howling/barking.
You need to make sure that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety before designing a systematic treatment plan.
Distract Your Dog With Treasure Hunts When You Leave The House
You can also make alone time fun using a modified morning routine. Before you leave for work or school, put your dog away in a crate or the bathroom for a few minutes. Then hide her food, cows ears, dental chews, stuffed peanut butter toys, and other tasty treats all around the house.
Dogs who dont have separation anxiety will love spending time looking for food. If your dog wont eat while youre gone, you already have a problem.
Are There Other Reasons That My Dog May Engage In These Behaviors
Dogs with separation anxiety vocalize, become destructive, or eliminate beginning either as the owners prepare to leave or shortly after departure. Destructive activity is often focused on owner possessions, or at the doors where owners depart or the dog is confined, and most often occurs shortly after departure. The vocalization is due to distress and may therefore consist of howling or whining. If the dog destroys, vocalizes, or eliminates both while the owners are at home and when they are away, other causes should first be considered. Dogs that eliminate when owners are at home may not be completely house trained or may have a medical problem. If the destruction, elimination and vocalization are more likely to arise the longer the owners are away from home, it may be that they are being left alone too long. Barking when the owners are away could be due to the sounds of strangers or other animals on the property. Some dogs will attempt to escape or become extremely anxious when confined, so that destructiveness or house soiling when a dog is locked up in a crate, basement, or laundry room, may be due to confinement or barrier anxiety and associated attempts at escape.
“…make an audiotape or movie clip of the behavior when the dog is alone.”
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How To Help With Dog Separation Anxiety
When it comes to helping your dog with separation anxiety, the first piece of advice is to start addressing the problem early so your pet has plenty of time to adapt. Whether you recently adopted a new dog or your longtime companion has simply grown accustomed to your pandemic routine, any change will be difficult unless you properly prepare them.
Also, remember that baby steps are best. If you can tell your training efforts are causing your pet even more stress, itâs okay to pause or take a step back so your pet has more time to adjust. The idea is that you are training your dog to be comfortable alone and that takes time.
Here are eight ways to help you treat your dog’s separation anxiety:
1. Positive reinforcement…with a twist
Set aside time each day to practice a departure and return routine with your dog. Not only does this help get your dog used to seeing you come and go, but itâs also a way to shift the focus from you to some other reward.
When you return, donât make it a special event. If youâre crate training, take your shoes off, have a drink of water, and then let your dog out of their crate. As hard as it may be, ignore your dog until they calm down and then reward them with some attention, a walk outside, or playtime with a special toy.
2. Crate training
3. Independence training
4. Exercise and entertainment
5. Interactive camera
6. Dog walker or doggy daycare
7. Flexible schedule
8. Calming supplements or medications
How Do You Treat Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dog separation anxiety training is the best treatment for this behavioral problem. Managing the signs of separation anxiety in dogs requires a combination of behavior modification and medication.
The exact approach depends on the dog and whether it spends short or long periods of time alone. Here are some helpful approaches for pet parents:
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What Can Be Done To Retrain The Dog To Reduce The Dependence And Following
The most important aspect of retraining is to teach your dog to be independent and relaxed in your presence. Only when your dog will stay in his bed or relaxation area, rather than constantly following you around, will you be ready to begin mock or graduated planned departures.
“… teach the dog to be independent and relaxed in your presence.”
Attention-getting behaviors must not pay off. Any attempts at attention must be ignored. On the other hand, lying quietly away from you should be rewarded. Teach your dog that it is the quiet behavior that will receive attention, and not following you around, or demanding attention. Teach your dog to relax in his quiet area and to accept lengthy periods of inattention when you are home. You may have to begin with shorter sessions of inattention and gradually shape longer sessions. Training can progress much quicker if your dog learns the down stay and mat exercises on command . Be sure to schedule attention, interaction and play sessions and develop a routine while you are at home, and follow these with gradually longer sessions of inattention to try and approximate your times of departure. Your dog should get used to this routine so that you can depart while he is calm.
Fixing Separation Anxiety One Step At A Time
Effective treatment of separation anxiety can feel overwhelming. Its a slow process made more difficult by the fact that sometimes progress comes at a literal pace of one second at a time.
Guiding your dog through a separation anxiety protocol might not be easy, but having not only gone through this process with many clients but also with my own beloved dog, I can honestly say there is hope and recovery is completely possible! Flores says.
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What To Do About Your Dogs Excessive Barking
The first step toward reducing your dogs barking is to determine the type of bark your dog is expressing. The following questions can help you to accurately decide on which type of barking your dog is doing so that you can best address your dogs problem. Think about your answers to these questions as you read through the information below on the different types of barking and their treatments.
If Its Territorial Barking or Alarm BarkingTerritorial behavior is often motivated by both fear and anticipation of a perceived threat. Because defending territory is such a high priority to them, many dogs are highly motivated to bark when they detect the approach of unknown people or animals near familiar places, like their homes and yards. This high level of motivation means that when barking territorially, your dog might ignore unpleasant or punishing responses from you, such as scolding or yelling. Even if the barking itself is suppressed by punishment, your dogs motivation to guard his territory will remain strong, and he might attempt to control his territory in another way, such as biting without warning.
Quiet TrainingIf your dog continues to alarm bark or bark territorially, despite your efforts to block his exposure to sights and sounds that might trigger his barking, try the following techniques:
Dont Make A Show Of Leaving Or Returning
This can be tough because you always want your dog to feel loved and missed, and you may love to enthusiastically greet your dog when you get home. But from your dogs point of view, making every hello and goodbye a big deal makes it that much harder for your pet to see you come and go. This doesnt mean you should ignore your dog. Instead, try to be calm during these moments you can bring back the petting and excitement after 10 minutes, once your dog knows youre home.
Even if your dog continues to show too much excitement when you walk in, commit to walking in and out in a calm manner. Keep it casual, paying them little attention for a bit before you leave. Do the same when you return, and then give them a calm greeting after a few minutes. You can also perform departure cues, such as jiggling your keys, without actually leaving to show your dog the anxiety-triggering noise or behavior is not always associated with you leaving.
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Downplay Goodbyes And Hellos
Dont get emotional when leaving your dog and overexcited when you come back. By paying too much attention to your departure and return, you risk reinforcing the dogs fear of your absence. Calmly say goodbye and leave. When you come back, quietly say hello and don’t get too affectionate until your dog has calmed down.
What Not To Do
- Do not encourage your dog to bark at sounds, such as pedestrians or dogs passing by your home, birds outside the window, children playing in the street and car doors slamming, by saying Whos there? or getting up and looking out the windows.
- Do not punish your dog for barking at certain sounds, like car doors slamming and kids playing in the street, but then encourage him to bark at other sounds, like people at the door. You must be consistent!
- Unless a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist advises you to do otherwise, never use punishment procedures if your dog is barking out of fear or anxiety. This could make him feel worse and, as a result, his barking might increase.
- Never use a muzzle to keep your dog quiet for long periods of time or when youre not actively supervising him. Dogs cant eat, drink or pant to cool themselves while wearing muzzles, so making your dog wear one for long periods of time would be inhumane.
- Never tie your dogs muzzle closed with rope, cord, rubber bands or anything else. Doing this is dangerous, painful and inhumane.
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Is It Separation Anxiety Or Boredom
There are a lot of similarities between the symptoms of separation anxiety and a bored, untrained, and under-exercised dog.
If you just look at the results elimination in the house and destruction when youre gone it can be hard to tell the difference between an anxioous dog and a bored dog.
Most animal behaviorists and trainers recommend filming your dog while youre gone to diagnose the issue.
Dr. Jen Summerfield agrees. She says:
While its true that dogs who dont get enough exercise or mental stimulation can be inclined to get into mischief while their owners are gone, this should NOT cause obvious signs of anxiety like whining, howling, panting and pacing, excessive salivation, escape attempts, etc.
If you think your dog might have SA , the most helpful thing you can do right off the bat is get some video of them while youre away! Its usually fairly easy to tell based on the video whether the dog is anxious or just bored.
How Do You Stop Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Do not expect to be able to fully eradicate this behavior, even when you have enlisted the assistance of a professional. Separation anxiety is a complex behavior that is managed over your dogs life.
The ideal end result is managing the behavior to keep it as minimal as possible completely eliminating this behavior is unheard of to my knowledge.
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Dealing With Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety. This means that she is uncomfortable being left home alone. Because dogs are social animals, it is not natural for them to be away from their social group for long periods of time. However, most dogs can be left alone with no problems. Unfortunately your dog is not one of them and you will have to do some work in order to help her over her fear of being alone.
It is important for you to understand that your dog is being bad when she is alone because she is anxious. It is not due to spite or revenge. Because of this, punishing her for chewing the couch or soiling the rug will only make her more anxious. Recognize that she cant help the things she is doing and decide that you love her enough to put the time into helping her.
The program described below will help you teach your dog to be okay when she is alone. Have patience. It often takes several weeks or months for dogs to completely get over separation issues.
Crate training is an option, however, some dogs that are anxious when alone are more anxious in a crate. If you decide to crate train your dog make sure you put time into conditioning her to absolutely LOVE being in the crate before you leave her in there for the day.
Crate Training To Avoid Dog Separation Anxiety
When you are home, have your dog familiar with being in the crate. Start with short periods and then increase the time he spends in it. Feed him in the crate, let him have his favorite bone to be used as a stress reliever while he is in there.
Some toys are developed to entertain, or occupy your dog when you are away. I prefer to use such interactive toys only when I am present. These work because your dogs mind is stimulated while attempting to remove treats from a toy, which then relaxes his mind, and he sleeps.
Do not put water in the cratethat can get very messy! The crate should be your dogs safe haven, a place he feels secure and enjoys. It should be big enough for him to stand upright without his head touching the top, and he should be able to turn around and lay down easily.
If he barks in the crate, look for ways to control that. Teaching him quiet is good, and interrupting the barking so he learns there is no reward from it also works. In extreme cases, a good bark collar can help control the dogs barking in your absence. No one wants annoyed neighbors, and this device will correct him when you are not there.
Place a cage-type crate in the busiest room in the house. The goal is for your dog to accept all the normal every-day movements, noises, and happenings within your home. Your dog must realize it is not necessary for him to be involved in everything because you are the one in charge.
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Anxiety Supplements For Dogs
When are supplements used for dog anxiety?
Unlike prescription medications,anxiety supplements for dogs are sold over-the-counter and can be used on a regular basis. However, supplements are not as potent as medication. Anti-anxiety supplements contain natural herbs and extracts like CBD, passionflower, chamomile, L-theanine, and L-tryptophan.
What are the benefits of anxiety supplements for dogs?
- Supports calmness and relaxation
- Do not require a veterinary prescription
What are the risks of using anxiety supplements for dogs?
- Finding the right dose may take time
- Do not work for all dogs, and types of anxiety
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Dogs With Separation Anxiety: Overview
1. Take steps to prevent separation anxiety in your new dog by conditioning him to accept being left alone.
2. Assess your dogs anxious behaviors to determine if the behaviors might have a cause other than separation anxiety.
3. Understand that your dogs difficult behavior is not deliberate, and that punishment is ineffective, inappropriate, and will only exacerbate the behavior.
Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is WDJs Training Editor. Miller lives in Hagerstown, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center. Pat is also author of The Power of Positive Dog Training Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog Positive Perspectives II: Know Your Dog, Train Your Dog, and the brand-new Dog Play: How and Why to Play With Your Dog.
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Dog Separation Anxiety Training Plan: Step
Heres what your desensitization plan should look like for beginning to resolve your dogs separation anxiety.
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