Why Do Pets Get Anxious When We Leave
Separation anxiety is particularly common among animals that have been rehomed multiple times, notes Dr. Agapis. However, it can develop in any pet, no matter their background. One study reported that 80 percent of dogs have elevated stress hormones when left alone. Any disruption in routine may trigger anxiety in your pet examples include the loss of a companion, a geographical move, a change in the owners schedule, or even a hospitalization.
Chewing And Destroying Items
Whenever the owner goes out even fora short time the pup ends up chewing or destroying some item either byshredding or chewing.
They might self-harm themselves bytheir actions by trying to chew harmful items that are around the house.
They are symptoms when the dogs onlydo it when they are alone and feeling anxious.
Excessive Crying Behavior On Owners Departure
Your dog may cry or whine at any time if he is furious, anxious, or suffering from separation anxiety.
Crying is nearly often followed by pacing if your dog cant get away from the stressor or has separation anxiety.
Its most likely stress if your dog isnt barking because he has to go outside or is in discomfort.
When dogs are stressed out as a result of separation anxiety, their crying can grow out of control.
It is, however, an indication that something is wrong with your dogs surroundings. Separation anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways, one of which is crying.
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Dont Leave Your Dog Home Alone During These Training Stages
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.
What Is Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs with separation anxiety often turn to destructive behaviors loud or excess vocalization and house soiling despite being potty trained.
Separation anxiety in dogs is a common issue. Namely, separation anxiety affects as much as one in every four to six dogs. In other words, the behavioral issue is diagnosed in 20-40% of dogs presented to canine behaviorists.
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Treatments For Canine Separation Anxiety
It has been suggested that adding another animal, such as another dog, to the household may help dogs with separation-related behavior problems to cope with absences from their owner., However, evidence suggests that the presence of another dog in the household does not prevent another dog from developing separation-related problems.,,
Owners may respond to the separation-related problem behaviors of their dogs by confining the dog to a crate. Some authors have recommended this approach because once the dog is accustomed to the crate they rarely engage in the stress-related behaviors exhibited by dogs that have free access during periods of separation from their owner. However, others have found that dogs left in crates or cages while at home alone are no less likely to display separation-related problem behaviors than dogs that have free access to the home. In fact, confining a dog with separation anxiety to a crate can increase lip licking, a response consistent with stress, and dogs can injure themselves in attempts to escape from the crate.
How To Handle A More Severe Problem
Use the techniques outlined above along with desensitization training. Teach your dog the sit-stay and down-stay commands using positive reinforcement. This training will help them learn that they can remain calmly and happily in one place while you go to another room.
Exercise and mental stimulation are critical to reducing anxiety and stress. Be sure your dog receives adequate exercise before you leave. Walking the same city block each day wont reduce anxiety, but sniffing and exploring new places will.
Create a “safe place” to limit your dog’s ability to be destructive while youre away. A safe place should:
- Confine the dog loosely .
- Contain busy toys for distraction.
- Have dirty laundry to lend a calming scent cue or other safety cues.
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How Other Pet Parents Are Planning Ahead
Its clear that many pet parents are thinking about how theyll ease the transition for their dogs when they get back into the office and leave the house for longer stretches of time.
In anticipation of going back to work and/or traveling, the majority of dog owners said theyve already started to take measures to prevent separation anxiety and 40% of pet parents said theyve done their own research and/or talked to their vet about separation anxiety in dogsfrom getting a pet camera to hiring a dog walker.
These are both great ideas to help monitor your pups behavior, but prevention is key to making sure your dog is calm on that pet camera video feed rather than anxious or upset.
The Steps You Need To Follow Are:
1. Establish a predictable routine
Since your dog is anxious, you need to begin by making his day calmer and more predictable whether you are home or away. Establish a daily routine so that your dog can begin to predict when he can expect attention and when he should be prepared for inattention . Try to schedule these times for object play and naps at times when you would normally depart.
2. Environmental enrichment – meeting your dog’s needs
During the times when you are interacting with your dog, make sure that you are meeting all of his needs for social interactions, play, exercise, training, and elimination. In effect, you should initiate enough regular interactive sessions and provide enough play and attention so that when each session is over, your dog is prepared to settle down and relax. At this point, new exploratory and chew toys can be given so that your dog has novel and motivating toys on which to focus when it is time to settle. Feeding toys can also replace standard food bowls to make feeding time more of a mental and physical effort.
3. Establish a predictable protocol for rewards
If your dog has separation anxiety, itâs likely that your dog’s favored rewards are the attention and play that you provide. Treats, food, play and chew toys may also be highly desirable.
“What behavior does my pet need to learn and what behavior should I never reinforce?”
4. Train âsettleâ .
5. Develop an area and surface for relaxation
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Canine Separation Anxiety: Strategies For Treatment And Management
Accepted for publication 28 August 2014
30 October 2014Volume 2014:5 Pages 143151
Dogs without separation-related behavior problems are passive and inactive in their owners absence,1,2 and the initially anxious behavior of puppies separated from their owners3 has been found to decrease quickly after adoption.4 Dogs with separation-related behavior problems, in contrast, engage in undesirable behaviors when left alone. The most common of these are destruction and excessive vocalization, including whining and barking.59 Less common problem behaviors include inappropriate elimination , self-injurious behavior , increased or repetitive motor activity , attempts to escape, trembling, salivation, and depression.10,11
The bond formed between dogs and their human owners is consistent with an attachment.12 The emotional attachment between adult dogs and their owners, even in the absence of separation-related behavior problems, has been found to be similar to that displayed by human adults and their children.13 This is not surprising given that dogs have been selected for their dependence on humans over 10,000 or more years of domestication.13
Importance of separation-related problems
Factors that predispose dogs to separation-related behavior problems
Treatments for canine separation anxiety
Table 1 Options for the treatment of canine separation-related behavior problems
Other factors that may help
Can Separation Anxiety Be Prevented
Have you been working from home and will now be going into an office, or spent the last month or so on holidays, or spent the last couple of weeks settling a new pet into your home? If you have been your pet’s constant companion but won’t be, it may leave your pooch confused and at risk of developing separation anxiety. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prepare your pet for this change. Here are our top tips to help your pet adjust to their new routine:
- Slowly start implementing your new routine. Our pets thrive on routines, so gradual adjustments will lessen the shock once you aren’t at home constantly.
- Get them use to being at home without you. Try introducing short periods of separation a few times a day.
- Allow your pet to have their alone time as this will also help them to feel secure when they are left alone for long periods of time. Try setting them up in a safe and comfortable room separate to yourself for periods of time.
- Try not to give your pet more attention than what they’ll receive when you are no longer constantly there.
- Encourage playtime without you.
- Avoid making a fuss when leaving or coming home. Try to ignore your pooch 15 minutes before you leave, and for the first few minutes when you return before greeting your pooch calmly.
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How To Treat It
First, talk to your vet to rule out any medical problems. Sometimes dogs have accidents in the house because of infections or hormone problems or other health conditions. It also could be due to incomplete housebreaking. And some medications can cause accidents. If your dog takes any drugs, ask your vet if they are to blame.
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.
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Why Do Dogs Suffer From Separation Anxiety
We dont fully understand exactly why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and, under similar circumstances, others dont. Its important to realize, however, that the destruction and house soiling that often occur with separation anxiety are not the dogs attempt to punish or seek revenge on his owner for leaving him alone, but are actually part of a panic response.
- A dog has never or rarely been left alone.
- Following a long interval, such as a vacation, during which the owner and dog are constantly together.
- After a traumatic event such as a period of time spent at a shelter or boarding kennel.
- After a change in the familys routine or structure .
Problems To Rule Out First
If your neighbors call you and tell you that your dog is howling when you are at work, your dogs excessive howling might be caused by separation anxiety. Separation anxiety howling only occurs when a dog is left alone or otherwise separated from his owner. This kind of howling is usually accompanied by at least one other symptom of separation anxiety, such as pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress. For more information about this problem, please see our article, .
Medical CausesDogs sometimes howl when theyre hurt or sick. If your dog starts howling or howls more than usual, take him to a veterinarian to rule out illness and injury before doing anything else.
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My Pet Is Okay With Me Running To The Store For 30 Minutes Does That Mean My Pet Will Not Have Separation Anxiety When I Leave The House For 8 Hours
Most dogs with separation anxiety display those behaviors within minutes of being left alone, says Dr. Agapis. However, doggy day care, boarding at veterinary clinic, or accompanying the owner to work should be considered as an alternative to routinely leaving a dog home alone for an extended time. In Sweden, it is actually illegal to leave your dog home alone for over 6 hours.
Cats demonstrate separation anxiety primarily when their owners are away for a few days, not during the typical workday. During extended absences, cats may benefit from a professional pet sitter stopping by twice daily for play sessions or even for overnight stays.
What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs are pack animals, and, as such, they adore being around people. The problem is, some dogs love companionship so much that theyll exhibit anxiety symptoms as soon as theyre left alone.
Its not always easy distinguishing if your pooch is just mischievous or if they are exhibiting dog stress symptoms.
So, what are the most common signs of separation anxiety in dogs that you need to pay attention to?
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To Crate Or Not To Crate
However, a crate isnt a substitute for training your pup to be home alone. A crate can be useful for dogs that get a tad too destructive when unsupervised, or if youre concerned about them hurting themselves while youre out.
Your dog is a living being, and being in a crate for 8-9 hours a day isnt living. Crates are good for transportation and being home alone for shorter periods, not an entire workday.
Ease Your Dog Into The Situation
Avoid leaving your pup for long stretches right out the gate. Start by leaving them alone for just a couple of minutes, then slowly start to increase the time youâre gone. This gradual transition will help your dog get used to being left alone and learn that, even though you leave, you always come back home to them.
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Other Problems That Can Cause Barking
Illness or InjuryDogs sometimes bark in response to pain or a painful condition. Before attempting to resolve your dogs barking problem, please have your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out medical causes.
Excessive barking due to separation anxiety occurs only when a dogs caretaker is gone or when the dog is left alone. Youll usually see at least one other separation anxiety symptom as well, like pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress. For more information about this problem, please see our article, .
Which Dog Breeds Have The Worst Separation Anxiety
Certain dog breeds suffer from worse separation anxiety than others. The dog breeds with the worst separation anxiety include: Labrador retriever, Border Collie, Jack Russell Terrier, German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, and Toy Poodle. While these are the most common dog breeds that suffer from separation anxiety, any dog breed can experience it.
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Consult With A Trainer Or Animal Behavioral Specialist
If a veterinarian has determined that your dog has no underlying health issues and may have separation anxiety, Basinger recommends consulting with a trainer “so that they could have a consultation that’s based on the specifics of their lifestyle, where they live, and their dog’s specific behavior.” There’s a lot of information out there, so rather than having to parse through all of it, she said, “Find a person that they trust to talk through it and come up with a plan. That way, they’re really getting the attention that they need for their particulars.”
While the pandemic may have contributed to a rise in separation anxiety, it doesn’t have to inhibit its treatment. “Many professionals are still offering services virtually during this time,” said Loyer, “and luckily separation anxiety is one behavior challenge that lends itself well to virtual coaching.”
There’s no legal requirement for dog trainers to be certified, but there are several highly reputable qualifications that can help you parse out the good from the bad. Listing all the different certifications here would be like alphabet soup, but as a rule of thumb, look for a trainer that is certified in canine behavior consulting or has a good track record with testimonials from clients.
What Should I Do If I Come Home To A Mess
If your dog has been anxious during your departure, and this has led to destruction or house soiling, then anything you do may increase your dogâs anxiety, making matters worse for future departures and it will not correct what has already been done. Therefore both punishment and excited greetings must be avoided. At homecomings, ignore your dog until she settles down . Your dog should soon learn that the faster she settles, the sooner she will get your attention.
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Being Abandoned By Owners
We all know that taking care of a dog is sometimes not a funny business, especially when you view it from a financial angle.
Keeping up with what a dog needs, both feeding, grooming, vet visit, a daily walk is not funny, which is why you shouldnt get a dog if you are not ready to roll with what is involved.
This is why people abandon their dogs to the street because they cant keep up, or they cant move to their new city with their dog
Abandoning a dog is a perfect recipe for separation anxiety, especially if the dog has nowhere to go or whom to be with.
So if you can no longer be with your dog talk to your friends, family members or talk him to the shelter instead of just abandoning him.
You are indirectly creating separation anxiety problems for the next person to adopt the dog.