Dog separation anxiety is very common and can be heartbreaking and frustrating for you but very stressful for the dog too. Symptoms include urinating, chewing, digging, barking, pacing and excessive whining when you leave them on their own.
It’s important to train your dog to deal with this type of separation anxiety so that you can leave to go to work or social activities without worrying about your dog while you’re gone. Luckily, there are many training tricks you can use to lessen your dog’s separation anxiety. Here are some of the best dog separation anxiety solutions.
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Special Toys and Treats
The best treatment for mild to moderate separation anxiety is to give your dog their favorite toy to distract them from the fact you are leaving them on their own. This will clam them down and they will start to associate your absence with the fun they have playing with on their own. Puppy chew toys are a great option as chewing will be something they will be doing a lot of if they suffer from separation anxiety.
On top of this, tasty dog treats is a great way to treat mild separation anxiety too. Before you leave them and as you return are the perfect opportunities to give them these treats and they will look forward to this rather than worry.
Extra Physical Activity
Making sure your dog gets enough stimulation during the day is another good way to ensure that they don’t experience separation anxiety. For example, before going to work each day, you might want to take your dog on a long walk.
The long walks, runs, games or whatever physical activity you do with them will tire them out so much that they wont have the energy to whine, pace or chew. When you come back after leaving them, its important that you play with them too and engage with them. This routine will become the norm for them and they will be less worried when separated with you.
Short Separation Periods
If you’re really struggling with your dog’s separation anxiety, a good solution is to train them to be okay with short separation periods before leaving for work all day.
For example, you might start by leaving for just a few minutes at a time and then coming back, and then slowly increase it to longer periods like half an hour or an hour. It’s important that these separation periods are short enough for your dog to process that you are still coming back and he has nothing to be scared of.
They also need to be increased very slowly – you need to be entirely sure that your dog is comfortable enough with the length of time you’re currently working on before you increase it. If your dog associates you picking up your keys or turning your back with you leaving, it may also be helpful to do these actions several times a day without actually leaving the house so they start to break that association.
Your dog is very attuned to your emotions, so it’s very important that you stay calm throughout this entire process, no matter how difficult it is for you. It can be very difficult to see your dog upset and sad, but you need to keep a calm and maintain a rational appearance so that your dog knows there’s no reason for them to freak out.
For example, if you come home and you find that your dog is whining, barking, or pacing, you’ll need to go about your routine like you normally would and not react. Giving into your dog’s behavior will only encourage it. However, it’s important not to punish the dog either – punishment is not an effective tool for stress reactions, and it will likely cause more behavioral issues.
Use a Pet Sitter For Long Absences
While you’re training your dog out of their separation anxiety, it’s very important that they aren’t left alone for longer than they can handle. It may be helpful to set up a camera in your home to determine how long it takes for your dog to start showing separation anxiety symptoms.
If you need to leave your dog alone for a period of time that is significantly longer than they are used to, having a pet sitter come by will help lessen their separation anxiety and stress. It reassures the dog that they won’t be left alone for indefinite periods of time, which is very important for reducing their stress levels.
Determine If Your Dog Needs to Be Crated
Some dogs feel safer when they’re in a dedicated dog crate for separation anxiety, which they can call their very own with blankets, toys and other fun things inside. However, other dogs will feel confined and overwhelmed by a crate, which will make their separation anxiety worse.
To determine whether they need to be crate trained to deal with their separation anxiety may involve trial and error. If they need to be in a crate, this option should be available for them when they’re alone. You may want to try putting your dog in their crate while you’re at home to see how they react to it, or set up a camera and leave the house for a short period of time to see whether or not they’re comfortable.
Separation Anxiety Medication
If you find your dog is suffering from serious separation anxiety and nothing else will help, try talking to your vet about medications to help them deal with it. Your vet can prescribe something that will keep your dog calm and lessen their reaction to you leaving the house. While medications don’t work for all dogs, some find them to be very effective.
Dealing with your dog’s separation anxiety can be very stressful, but there are ways to train them out of it. It’s important to be persistent but patient with your dog as they work through this issue. Don’t be afraid to consult with your vet to find a good way to deal with this issue that works for your dog.