Monday, November 27, 2023

How To Prevent Separation Anxiety In Dogs

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My Dog Starts To Get Anxious Even Before I Leave What Can I Do

Cesar Explains How To Fix Separation Anxiety With Your Dog

There are a number of activities that we do consistently prior to each departure. The dog soon learns to identify that these cues or signals mean imminent departure. On the other hand, some dogs learn that other signals indicate that you are not planning to depart and therefore can help the dog to relax. If you can prevent your dog from observing any of these anxiety inducing pre-departure cues, or if you can train your dog that these cues are no longer predictive of departure, then the anxiety is greatly reduced. Even with the best of efforts, some dogs will still pick up on “cues” that the owner is about to depart. Train your dog to associate these cues with enjoyable, relaxing situations rather than the anxiety of impending departure. By exposing your dog to these cues while you remain at home and your dog is relaxed or otherwise occupied, they should no longer predict departure. This entails some retraining while you are home. Get the items that normally signal your departure, and walk to the door. However, do not exit the house. The dog will be watching and possibly get up, but once you put everything away, your dog should lie down. Then, once your dog is calm, this is repeated. Only 3 to 4 repetitions should be done in a day and the dog must be calm and quiet before presenting the cues again. Eventually, your dog will not attend to these cues because they are no longer predictive of you leaving. Then, your dog will be less anxious when you do leave.

How Do I Progress To Leaving The House

During âmockâ or graduated departures, your dog should be exercised, given a short training session, and taken to her bed or mat to relax. Give the âdown-stayâ command, a few of the novel toys and treats, and then depart while your dog is distracted and relaxed.

The first few mock-departures should be identical to the training exercises above, but instead of leaving the room for a few minutes while your dog is calm and distracted, you will begin to leave the home. The first few departures should be just long enough to leave and return without any signs of anxiety or destructiveness. This might last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes the hardest part and most critical part may be to merely get out the door without your dog becoming anxious. Gradually but randomly increase the time. Your dog must always be relaxed when you begin. Departures must be as much like real departures as possible and include other activities associated with departure such as opening and closing the car door and returning, turning on and off the car engine and returning, or pulling the car out of the driveway and returning. The goal is for your dog to learn that departures are short and that you return quickly, so you must only increase the time you are gone if the dog remains relaxed when you leave the house. The increase in time must be random and slowly increased. You cannot suddenly go from a 5-minute departure to a 30-minute one or your dog may become anxious.

What Might Hinder This Training

  • If your dog does react to being alone, it is incredibly important that they arent punished for anything they may do while stressed or anxious, such as damaging things or toileting in your home. They are already going to be feeling panicked, upset or fearful and punishing them is only going to make them feel worse or reinforce the feeling that being left alone is even worse than they initially thought.
  • Advice commonly given is to perform fake departure cues such as picking up keys and pretending to leave so the dog doesnt expect you to go when these things happen. The theory suggests dogs will be less anxious when keys are picked up, shoes are put on etc, but dogs like being able to predict when things are going to happen. If they cant guess, then they might feel more worried as they cant control their environment.

Predictability is shown to control the stress response. By increasing what your dog can predict, and having a clear signal where your dog understands you are going to leave, the dog will not be constantly worrying about when you are going to leave, and can relax.

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How To Make Being Alone Easier For Your Dog

When your dog needs to be left alone for a few hours, there are things you can do to stop them getting bored or worried.

This can include leaving them activities to do to prevent boredom such as:

  • Enrichment feeders

Daily exercise is also vital for their physical and mental wellbeing so ensure that they have had good exercise opportunities every day.

Other things you can do to help your dog feel less anxious include:

  • Making sure their bed area is nice and cosy and makes them feel secure
  • Use a plugin diffuser or a collar that releases natural calming pheromones
  • Leaving an old item of clothing out with your scent on
  • Make sure they have a chance to go to the toilet before you leave

When you do have to go out, try to prepare in advance so you dont have to rush because this can make your dog stressed. Always leave your dog calmly and dont get them excited before you go. It may feel strange not to say goodbye to your dog when you go, but leaving without a fuss will mean that your dog doesnt have time to get themselves wound up and will settle more quickly. When you come home do this calmly and quietly too.

Dont Leave Your Dog Home Alone During These Training Stages

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dogs

One of the primary challenges in dealing with separation anxiety is that once the training process begins, your dog should never be left alone. Flores notes that even if you cant be home with your dog, you can enlist a neighbor, friend, family member, dog walker or daycare to help during the training process.

Managing absences is extremely important to protect the progress we are making during training. If for example, we get the dog to a point where he is comfortable for 30 mins, but the next day hes left alone for two hours, weve potentially undone all the work weve put in. Hes no longer able to trust that his guardian will return before he starts to panic, explains Flores.

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Practice Separation With Your Dog

Before leaving your home for an extended period of time, get your dog used to the fact that you will not always be home. Simple acts like getting up to move to another chair or another room in the house can help your dog become less dependent on your presence.

You can then work up to leaving the house for a short while, ideally less than an hour, and see how that goes. It helps if your dog associates the departure with a positive experience. For example, you can give her a special treat or a new toy before you go.

Top #1: How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Dogs Ft Michele Dixon

Many pet parents will have to deal with separation anxiety in dogs it’s one of the most common issues where dog owners still can’t understand the exact causes of it, or how to alleviate its symptoms in their pets. However, it is still very important to find ways to help your dog with this behavioral problem and not just ignore it in hopes that it’ll go away.

In this Theory of Pets podcast episode, I talked with Michele Dixon, who is certified animal health and nutrition specialist working at Petcurean, a dog food company focused on every canine’s specific and individual needs. Michele comes from a dog training background, and during this conversation offered a lot of great tips, tricks and advice on how to deal with separation anxiety in dogs.

On a podcast episode a few weeks ago, we discussed how to sooth anxiety in dogs using music, and this time we’re covering a variety of other methods, including training methods and products that are very effective and work for most dogs. You’ll learn how to not only soothe the symptoms but also completely treat this behavioral problem.

Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episodes post on the official Theory of Pets website.

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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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What Not To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

How to STOP Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety (MUST TRY)

Do NOT punish or scold your dog. This anxious behavior is because they are distressed, not done out of spite or disobedience. Your dog is scared or upset and their separation anxiety is how they are trying to cope with the situation. By punishing your dog you will only make them more upset and the problem will get even worse. Finding positive ways to redirect this behavior will result in everyone being happier in the end.

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What Is Separation Anxiety

Dogs commonly experience separation anxiety when their people leave the house. They might display their distress by getting anxious when the owner prepares to leave, by trying to prevent their departure, as well as by drooling, chewing, barking, and displaying other signs of distress when left alone. It is important to try to prevent separation anxiety, if possible, and to manage it if your dog already shows signs of distress.

Home Remedies For Curing Dog Separation Anxiety Quickly

An anxious dog can usually be calmed by pheromones, which are often available in the form of a diffuser from any reputable pet store. Alternatively, you could pop a couple of drops of Rescue Remedy into Fidos water bowl, or make your own herbal remedy for spraying around the house.

Popular herbs and oils for calming dogs are:

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How Do I Know If My Dog Has Separation Problems

Your dog might feel different emotions such as fear, frustration, and panic when left alone. Common signs that they are feeling anxious when left alone include:

  • Destruction of bedding, furniture carpets or belongings
  • Inappropriate toileting indoors
  • Barking, whining or being vocal
  • Pacing or being restless
  • Attempting to escape.

Some dogs may not show any of these signs and become depressed and do nothing at all when their owner leaves. Investing in a pet camera can give you a good idea of how they are feeling when you are away from home.

Many things can affect separation anxiety in dogs their genetics, personality and previous negative experiences which may have added to their fears and anxieties. In some cases, when our dogs were puppies they might have missed out on some of the really important training they needed to help them feel happy when being left alone. Puppies need to be taught when theyre young that its OK to be on their own and have a little bit of independence from their owners.

Do Bark Collars Work For Separation Anxiety

Understanding Separation Anxiety in Dogs &  Cats

Bark collars, like all dog training tools, work only if you use them properly. A bark collar can be used to distract your dog from doing unwanted behaviors, but you have to be consistent with the train-treat-repeat methodology. Therefore, bark collars tend to work best when you are home, with your dog, so you can press the button to distract him, issue the verbal command, give positive reinforcement and repeat.

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Never Punish Your Dog

If your dog does something undesirable whilst you’re out, it’s important you don’t show any signs of disapproval. Raising your voice or showing your disappointment might scare your dog and make the situation worse.

Your dog will become anxious about what you’ll do when you return the next time you go out, making the behaviour worse.

Dogs who’ve been told off may lower their head, put their ears back and put their tail between their legs. Sadly, owners often think that their dog looks guilty when they do this and so tell them off thinking they know they’ve done wrong.

However, even if you take your dog to the ‘scene of the crime’ they won’t associate your anger with their earlier behaviour. Your dog will simply become more anxious the next time you go out. If you do come home to a mess, it’s essential not to physically punish or shout at your dog.

Top tip: Try to avoid even letting your dog see that you’re annoyed – let them outside before cleaning up.

How To Treat Or Prevent Separated

Taking positive action to prevent or treat separation anxiety can help if:

  • Your dog is showing obvious signs of distress.
  • If you don’t know whether there’s a problem but want to help your dog to feel better when left alone.
  • You want to identify if behaviour problems are being caused by other factors. For example, whether destructive behaviour is being caused by a lack of mental stimulation. Or, if barking actually caused by a disturbing noise.

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Outside For A Short Amount Of Time Then Step Back In

You need to avoid being out long enough for your dog’s anxiety to begin building, so in cases of severe separation anxiety, you may only be able to step outside for a second. When you step back inside, keep things quiet and give your dog a few minutes to relax. Once it’s relaxed, step outside again, and repeat this step until your dog is showing no signs of anxiety such as panting, pacing, drooling, shaking, or vocalizing.

The Spruce / Missy Schrott

How To Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety

What To Do About Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Its a heartbreaking scene after a short time away from your house, you return to a dog thats wet from drool, trembling and wide-eyed with fear. Theres a mess by the door, and the TV remote and couch cushions are chewed to bits.

Its clear that youre dealing with more than just canine mischief. This is a case of a dog with separation anxiety, which can cause stress for your pup and for you.

Heres how to help your dog with separation anxiety to ensure their safety and well-being.

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How Come My Dog Gets So Anxious When I Leave Home But Is Just Fine When I Leave The Car

Many dogs that destroy the home when left alone will stay in a car or van without becoming anxious or destructive. This may be because your dog has learned to relax and enjoy the car rides without receiving constant physical attention and contact. When you do leave, the departure may be quite short. You may then occasionally leave the dog in the car during longer absences. This provides a degree of proof that your dog can learn to relax if he is used to being ignored, has a location where he feels settled, and gets used to departures gradually. This is similar to the way in which your dog should be trained to relax in your home and accept gradually longer departures.

Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety

The most basic explanation is a dog that gets extremely anxious and stressed when a family member is gone because they are overly attached.

And with most of the world recently being at home all of the time because of the safer at home act, your dog may have started to develop separation anxiety because they are so used to you being home with them so much.

There are a few degrees of separation anxiety, but when people hear those words they usually think of the worst form of it.

This can be behaviors such as vocalization, peeing and pooping in the house and destruction of both objects and the dog itself.

An extreme case would be a dog that does all of those things. But most dogs with separation anxiety will just do one or two of those behaviors or symptoms.

But if your dog is guilty of these behaviors, it isnt always because they are anxious about you being gone. Often times, its just plain boredom.

A dog shows signs of having separation anxiety by following their owner everywhere they go. Basically, they are attached to the hip.

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Treating Minor Cases Of Separation Anxiety

  • 1Rule out other causes. Notice when symptoms take place. If they occur when youre coming or going, separation anxiety could be the cause. But if your dog exhibits problem behaviors when youre just sitting put, its most likely something else.
  • If your dog uses the bathroom where its not supposed to while youre home the cause probably isnt separation anxiety.
  • Consider visiting a vet to rule out incontinence or digestion issues, or visit a trainer for help completing potty training.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to AnimalsLeading organization dedicated to the prevention of animal crueltyGo to source
  • Similarly, excessive barking or howling could be signs of incomplete training, especially if you didnt have a hand in training your dog when it was a puppy.
  • Most dogs go through a period of excessive chewing as juveniles. Do your best to make it understand which toys are for chewing and which items belong to you.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to AnimalsLeading organization dedicated to the prevention of animal crueltyGo to source
  • Make sure you dont leave shoes, clothes, or other tempting objects out during your dogs juvenile period, from a few months before its first birthday to a few months after.
  • Dont make your exit with lots of fanfare or with a big gestures.
  • Try to avoid giving recognizable cues, like grabbing your keys loudly, that signal youre leaving.
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