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Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety? Solutions are available.
Separation anxiety is common in many animals, but it can be especially bad for dogs. The signs of a dog's anxiety and suffering are plain to see: getting nervous when you're preparing to leave, excessive barking, becoming overly excited when you come home, and destroying your things while you're away.
Some dogs start out with bad separation anxiety (puppy separation anxiety), while other dogs develop separation anxiety over time. Both male dogs and female dogs can be anxious dogs when faced with their owner's absence. Thankfully, there are solutions for dealing with even severe separation anxiety in dogs. Read on, and find out how you can quiet your dog's mind, and deal with the anxiety symptoms of highly anxious dogs.
What is dog separation anxiety?
Dogs are pack animals, and most dogs will think of themselves as your family member. While it's normal for your dog to miss their pet parents while they're away, developing separation anxiety takes those negative feelings to a whole new level of problematic dog behavior.
If you've noticed a change in your dog's behavior and the possible onset of dog separation anxiety, this might be because of your dog's underlying anxiety about other things. For example, there may have been:
- A change of ownership
- Time spent with a feared or disliked person
- Moving to a home from a shelter or doggy daycare
- Sudden absence or the loss of a family member
- Changes in your schedule
How do I treat my dog's separation anxiety?
There are many ways to treat a dog's separation anxiety.
- Give your dog a treat when you leave
- Try leaving for very short periods and then building up your dog's tolerance
- Make coming and going at your house a low key affair, with minimal greetings and goodbyes, as though it is no big deal
In extreme circumstances, anti anxiety medication drug therapy might be warranted. However, this should only be considered after speaking to a qualified veterinary behaviorist. A certified applied animal behaviorist will be able to guide you in the right direction.
Use physical and mental stimulation to help with your dog's separation anxiety.
Understimulation can be the root cause of many behavioral issues in dogs, including separation anxiety. With a lack of physical contact and too much excess energy, the result can be a happy dog turning into a dog with anxious behaviors when left alone.
If your dog has excessive attachment problems, try treating separation anxiety by spending some time with your dog on training sessions, tug of war, a brisk walk, dog sports, and so on. It might take a few weeks, but the impact can be enormous. If you can't be there yourself, consider employing the services of a dog walker.
As well as wearing out the body, try to use mental stimulation until you have a mentally tired dog. You might like to try a food stuffed toy like a puzzle toy stuffed with the positive reinforcement of high value foods inside. With a toy like that, many dogs will have fun trying to figure out the puzzle, rather than having a panic attack and doing destructive chewing when left alone.