Strategy 3: Use A Crate
Crate training can also be useful for preventing separation anxiety. Dogs are den animals, and teaching them that their crate is a safe place to retreat to when alone can help keep them calm and prevent them from destroying your house!
The key to crate training is to make the crate a wholly positive experience. Your dog should come to think of their crate as their own little haven. Furnish the crate with beloved toys and cosy bedding. You could even put an old piece of your clothing in the crate so your dog has your comforting smell nearby.
Leave the crate door open the first few times so your dog doesnt become anxious and learns to associate the crate with positive feelings. And of course, theres nothing most dogs find more positive than food, so give them treats inside their crate whenever they lie inside quietly. You can even give them dinner inside their crate.
Slowly build up time with the door closed until your dog is happy spending time there.
Make sure you encourage your dog to use the crate when you are in the house, too it should not only be associated with alone time. When your dog is alone in the house, leave the door of the crate open so they can wander inside as they please.
Set up for success: Ensure your dog is well exercised, goes outside and has something to eat before you leave the house.
Medical Problems To Rule Out First
Incontinence Caused by Medical ProblemsSome dogs house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog leaks or voids his bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems often seem unaware that theyve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. A number of medical issuesincluding a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushings disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitaliacan cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Before attempting behavior modification for separation anxiety, please see your dogs veterinarian to rule out medical issues.
MedicationsThere are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your dog takes any medications, please contact his veterinarian to find out whether or not they might contribute to his house-soiling problems.
While Many Of Our Four
Many dogs will have enjoyed having their owner home all the time during lockdown, so when we do return to work, this may cause them to become anxious and worried, and show behaviours known as separation anxiety.
Separation-related problems are extremely common, and if dogs are very attached to their owners, this long period of time spent together can make the problem worse when they do have to be left alone again.
Its very difficult to know how dogs will behave when their owners return to their normal routine and every dog may react differently.
Leave A Background Noise
Odds are, your puppy associates the background noise from the TV with your presence. It makes sense then that having that same noise available while youre gone goes a long way to producing a comforting environment.
Additionally, some genres such as classical music, soft rock, and even reggae are shown to reduce stress in dogs.
You can find different types of music for dogs on YouTube, or you can take a look at this special music package for dealing with separation anxiety.
Not only does the background noise help to mask noises of cars, people, , and such, but it will also give your puppy the feeling as if you were home, so he wont feel as lonely in your silent apartment.
Rule Out Any Other Problems
First things first, make sure your puppys not acting out due to another problem. They could be bored, or they may not be getting enough social company or physical or mental exercise, which may make them act out.
These symptoms are often lumped in with puppy separation anxiety, but actually they are fairly easily solved with more exercise. Try puppy brain games like interactive toys and consider stimulating their mind through training. Alternatively, you can try leaving the radio on or putting them in one room where theyre comfortable and happy, preferably one where there is no outside stimuli which may cause them to bark.
Once again, watching your puppy on a webcam will help you decide whether its boredom in which cases the behaviours will be done fairly calmly and often intermittently, with sleep in between. Or, if its separation anxiety, its more likely to be constant, and your puppy with display obvious signs of stress.
Its important to note that sometimes puppies may start off as bored, but may work themselves up and become stressed and anxious. If youre unsure, find a professional behaviourist experienced in puppy anxiety and have them come and assess your pup.
Strategy 1: Build Your Dogs Tolerance For Alone Time
The simplest approach to tackling dog separation anxiety is to gradually increase the time your dog is left alone, simply by moving to another room and closing or partially closing the door.
First, relax your dog by petting them and speaking soothingly, but never expressly tell them Im going now. Leave for a short period of time. If possible, wait until your dog is silent before you return to the room. Do not fuss over them when returning, however reward your dog with gentle praise and perhaps a treat but only after they have quietened down.
This will show your dog that being alone is not unpleasant. Make your dogs alone time as positive as possible leave them a favourite toy or a long-lasting treat in a space they feel comfortable in.
Gradually increase the amount of time youre separated from your dog. Its best to do this training once a day, rather than several times a day, to minimise stress on your dog.
Good to know: This process may take a few weeks before you see an effect. Patience and consistency are key!
It’s Important To Establish A Routine For Your Dog Now So They Are Prepared When You Return To Work
While there is no silver bullet when it comes to preventing separation anxiety, there are things you can do in advance to prepare your dog for a seamless return to your old routine. According to Pratt, one of the most important things dog owners can do is establish a routine that closely resembles the one they had in place before stay-at-home orders were issued.
“Allow your pet to have some alone time. You have your space, and they have theirs,” said Sueda. Even if you don’t have anywhere to go outside of the house, you can put your dog behind a pet gate or in a separate room.
You should leave your dog alone in the house on occasion, particularly if they have not struggled with separation anxiety in the past. “I typically tell people that they are going to want to do an absence minimally three days a week and try to sprinkle in things like going to the mailbox ,” said DeMartini-Price. Use the time out of the house to do essential shopping, take a walk, or sit outside with a book for an hour.
Do they bark or have an accident immediately after you’ve left the house? Are they relatively relaxed for several minutes before they display signs of anxiety? Using a security camera or to observe your dog’s behavior can give a good sense of how they might be feeling.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Treatment for Moderate to Severe Separation AnxietyModerate or severe cases of separation anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. In these cases, its crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.
The following steps briefly describe a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please keep in mind that this is a short, general explanation.
Step One: Predeparture CuesAs mentioned above, some dogs begin to feel anxious while their guardians get ready to leave. For example, a dog might start to pace, pant and whine when he notices his guardian applying makeup, putting on shoes and a coat, and then picking up a bag or car keys. Guardians of dogs who become upset during predeparture rituals are unable to leaveeven for just few secondswithout triggering their dogs extreme anxiety. Your dog may see telltale cues that youre leaving and get so anxious about being left alone that he cant control himself and forgets that youll come back.
Medications Might HelpAlways consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.
Step 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.
Gradually Work Up To Longer Periods Away
This step requires a large amount of time and energy on an owner’s part and a real commitment to your pet. Once this process is started, it’s important your dog is never left alone for extended periods until its anxiety is completely gone. It can take several weeks to get to this point, so you may need to take some vacation time, hire a pet sitter, or enroll your dog in doggie daycare until you’ve completed this step. Unless your dog sees its crate as a place of relaxation and comfort, you’ll want to avoid crating your dog during this period, as that can exacerbate anxiety.
Once you have a plan in place to make sure your dog is never alone, it’s time to start getting your dog used to your being away. Try to spend at least 30 minutes each day on each training session.
Where Can I Get Professional Help
If your dog does go on to display ongoing signs of separation anxiety, it is important not to ignore these and to contact your vet who can refer you to an accredited behaviourist. Theyll be able to fully assess your dog to find out why they dont cope with being left alone and come up with a treatment plan to help. How separation problems are treated will be individual to each dog, so it is important to seek professional advice to help guide you through the problem.
What Is The Difference Between Separation Anxiety And Normal Canine Behavior
Separation anxiety is a serious condition, and it goes beyond the occasional mournful whimper when you leave the house or the shredded sock waiting for you upon your return. Its also not the same as boredom, and unlike a little mischief when your dog is left alone, separation anxiety is the result of legitimate stress.
Before labeling destroyed cushions or potty accidents as SA, be sure its not a case of inadequate training. Does your dog truly understand good manners, even when youre not watching him? Is he 100% potty trained? One of the best ways to see whats really going on in your absence is to audio or videotape your dogs behavior while youre away.
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:
So Our First Step Is Always To Be Wondering Why They Are Barking
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For instance, my dog Wilson will come up to me and actually look at me and bark. After tuning in to him years ago, I know that this is his way of actually asking for only two things.
And yes, he does have different barks for each!
It will either be that he really wants to go out for a walk, exercise and to have a chance to relieve himself or the other bark which is that he wants something to eat.
Thats it. Thats all I need to know and as long as I fulfill his needs fairly quickly, the when I start to provide him with what he needs.
And this is actually very important. You see in his world, he is communicating this to me and the fact that I am responding quickly lowers any anxiety he may have built up and actually improves his confidence and strengthens our bond.
All of these things are super important for your dog.
They are giving him the confidence to know that he can rely on you.
He can rely on you to:
- Provide for him.
- Understand him.
Of course, these are what we as humans are onto our dogs, but we all know the difference between a happy dog and a dog that is clearly suffering from stress dont we?
Its a fact that the more common causes of inappropriate barking are:
Why Does My Dog Have Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can occur for many reasons, such as when your dog isnt used to being away from you or is scared by something in the house. Their genetics, personality and experiences can also affect how they cope on their own.
Pain and underlying medical reasons may cause your dog to feel worried about being on their own so you should always get them checked over by a vet if theyre struggling with apparent separation anxiety.
Once youve had your dog checked by a vet and theres no medical cause, then an accredited behaviourist will be best placed to help if your vet feels that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
Other things that can cause or contribute to separation anxiety include:
- Poor socialisation as a puppy
- Your dog isnt used to being left alone
- There has been a change in your household
- Something has scared your dog
- A routine change, bereavement or other circumstances meaning a person or pet who they normally spend time with isnt around.
Simulated Vs True Dog Separation Anxiety
There is true separation anxiety, and there is simulated separation anxiety, in which the dog behavior appears to be separation anxiety but it is, in fact, a learned behavior.
Simulated separation anxiety is often manifested when the dog lacks leadership as well as self-control. True separation anxiety, on the other hand, causes the dog to experience real stress during the absence of his owner.
In simulated separation anxiety, the dog knows that he will get attention if he acts badly. For some dogs, even being verbally reprimanded for such behavior is rewarding because he feels he was noticed.
Negative attention can be a reward in many cases, if the owner is unaware that certain needs of his dog are not being met. In these cases, there is little real stress involved, just misbehavior.
Simulated separation anxiety is fairly easy to overcome with a gradual approach, slowly increasing the amount of time spent in a when you are at home as well as awayconsistent obedience training, proper amounts of exercise, and strong leadership.
Severe cases of true separation anxiety impose a challenge to Pack Leaders.
Crate Train Or Set Up A Safe Confinement Zone For Your Dog
Whether or not you plan on crating your dog long term, crate training can be incredibly useful in a variety of situations. It helps prevent house soiling accidents and other unwanted behaviors when you arent home or when you cant fully supervise your dog. Travelling with your dog is easier and safer when they enjoy their crate. Crate training also helps dogs relax if introduced in a positive way, as they see it as their safe space. Read more about how to teach your dog to love their crate.
If your dog already has a negative association with being crated, you can set up a long-term confinement area for them instead. Having a safe place to hang out and relax in while youre gone goes a long way in preventing separation anxiety. Some dog owners will use a crate in conjunction with a larger area thats gated off from the rest of the home. This gives their dog the option of curling up in the den-like space of a crate or playing with their toys in the larger space. A long-term confinement area is especially useful for puppies that arent quite housetrained and need to be confined for longer than they can physically hold it.
Building Your Puppy Up To Longer Time Alone
If you need to leave your puppy for longer than the recommended half-an-hour , make sure you have built them up to this with the above training. Youll need to make sure they have been well exercised and have had the opportunity to go the toilet. For some puppies, a small meal may help as this may make them feel more relaxed and sleepy.
If you do return home to find your puppy has made a mess, greet them normally and then clean up the mess calmly . Its likely that they werent quite ready to be left for that length of time yet and, remember, its very normal to have a few setbacks in this sort of training with puppies! Go back a few steps, keep positive and youll soon find youre back on track.
Preventing Separation Anxiety In Puppies
Note: this blog was written during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and considers the guidelines of the CDC at time of publication in its recommendations.
Right now, many people are staying home to prevent the spread of a novel coronavirus. Suddenly, with unexpected extra time on your hands, it may feel like the perfect time to bring home the new puppy youve been dreaming about! Having lots of time to spend with a new puppy provides a great opportunity to prepare them for the shift back to a busy lifestyle.
Puppies are naturally social creatures and bond very closely with their human guardians. Having their person around all the time and then suddenly being left alone for a full work day may come as a real shock. A sudden experience of being alone for an extended period of time is associated with increased risk of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a very common panic disorder, which can cause some serious issues for dogs and their guardians alike. In fact, separation anxiety related behaviors such as excessive vocalization, destructiveness, and inappropriate elimination are listed as some of the main reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters.
As your new puppy settles into your home and you start to build your relationship, it is essential to prepare them for their new routine when you do go back to work or start spending time away from the house. Weve created a step-by-step training plan to help you teach your puppy how to feel happy and secure by themselves.
When Will My Dog Experience Separation Anxiety
Many and varied sitations. Some dogs will suffer in all situations some will suffer in just one or two. Know your dog and work using the same process as above in all scenarios. Many dogs suffer in silence so again pop a camera up as those dogs just verbalizing the smallest noise or pacing are in deep distress too.
- When you leave the house
- When your dog is separated in another room but youre in
- During a walk when the family is spread out. Your dog may prefer you all walk together
- One of you may enter a shop and the other left with your dog outside. Your dog can go into meltdown
- Left in a car
- Left at a kennel or someone elses home
How Do Your Emotions Impact Your Dog
As with any behavioural modification to help your dogs find ultimate happiness the key is to change you first. Be mindful of how your emotions, thoughts, and movements are being deciphered by your dogs.
What Are The Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs can exhibit stress in many ways, so there is no one defining sign of SA. Instead, there are a variety of symptoms. One or two of them, especially if they only happen occasionally, may not be a sign of puppy separation anxiety. But if your puppy shows multiple symptoms on a regular basis, he may be suffering from SA. Here are some behaviors your dog may exhibit:
- Anxious behaviors like pacing, whining, or trembling while youre gone or as you prepare to leave.
- Excessive barking or howling.
- Destructive acts, such as chewing or digging, particularly around doors or windows.
- Accidents in the house urinating or defecating.
- Excessive salivation, drooling, or panting.
- Desperate and prolonged attempts to escape confinement, potentially ending in serious injury.
Sadly, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, several of the above symptoms are also some of the most common reasons owners get rid of their dogs. This is especially unfortunate because its an issue that can be treated by implementing a few simple but important tactics.
Separation Anxiety Risk Factors
There are a few risk factors that make dogs more likely to develop a separation anxiety disorder:
Training Puppies To Be Alone While Youre Still At Home
At random points during the day, pop your puppy behind the stair gate with a tasty chew, eg a Kong toy stuffed with treats or smeared with a tasty paste. Close the stair gate behind you and go about your business as normal but try to stay in eye and earshot of your puppy.
After a few minutes, open the stair gate ideally you want your puppy to be relaxed and still engrossed in the treat. Your puppy can decide what they want to do at this point, either stay in the room or leave.
If you find that your puppy struggles with this at all, you can make it easier for them by staying in this room with them, but its important that you dont interact with them just sit there quietly. Once they are used to the idea of being in the room with you you can start shutting the stair gate for a few minutes.
Over the next few days, gradually increase the time your puppy is left behind the stair gate until you get to a point that they feel relaxed enough for you wander out of sight completely. Build your puppy up to being left in this area for up to half an hour while you are busy elsewhere in the house.