Separation anxiety in dogs is the fear of being left alone or abandoned when left at home alone. The result of this anxiety could be howling, crying, whining, scratching furiously at doors or windows, tearing cushions and other items etc. and in extreme cases urinating and defecating.
Separation anxiety is one of the behavior problems in dogs which are most difficult to rectify due to the fact that dogs are pack animals and it is in their inherent nature not to be alone. Hence being at home alone while the members are out is something that the dog has to acquire and the owner has to help him with it. The best time to start this training is right when you bring the pup home. His calm and submissive behavior should be rewarded whereas his whining should be ignored. Here are some more tips to help ease separation anxiety in your dog:
1. Do not touch or talk or make eye contact.
Don’t make a big deal when you leave for the day or when you return. This way, you are communicating to your dog that the time apart is no big deal. It’s just business as usual and there is no need to be anxious. Depending on the severity of the dog anxiety, you may need to practice the rule for five minutes or up to an hour before you leave and when you get back.
2. Start out slow but steady by leaving your dog alone for just five minutes.
Once you have shut the door behind you, wait till the whining starts. Before it accelerates to a pitch of hysteria, re-enter the room and stand in a calm and confident way and say “NO” firmly. Leave the room and repeat exercise. Leave your dog alone for five minutes, then extend the time to twenty minutes, then an hour. Continue to increase the time you spend away until you can leave for a full eight hours without any more separation anxiety problems!
3. Say goodbye to your dog long before you leave.
If you are having trouble practicing the policy of “do not touch or talk or make eye contact” then take a moment to share affection and tell your dog that you will miss him way before you actually leave. Keep in mind that this display is for you, not your dog so that it becomes easier for you to be firm with him when needed.
4. Stay calm and assertive!
When you are ready to go to work, leave those guilty, nervous, and concerned feelings behind. Instead, let your dog know that everything is going to be okay by projecting the confident energy of a pack leader. A dog draws his energy from the owner. So a calm and assertive leader can ease separation anxiety in his dog.
5. Before you leave the house, take your dog for a walk.
Start your day by taking your dog for a brisk walk. Then reward your dog’s calm-submissive energy with food and water. Some dogs may need to rest before eating, but all dogs can benefit from hydration. The idea is to leave your dog in quiet, resting mode while you are away.
Sometimes in extreme cases of separation anxiety in dogs it is highly recommended that you take your pooch to the vet and get accurate advice and medication if needed. Always remember that a vigilant owner is a happy owner.