There can be several triggers for a dogs’ anxiety, and with the growing awareness of the problem among pet owners and pet professionals alike, dogs with such a disorder nowadays are far less likely to be rejected by their owners.
What are the symptoms of canine separation anxiety?
There are many different symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs, such as destructive behaviour, excessive barking or soiling inside the home, but it’s important to understand that there may be other reasons for such behaviour. So, if your dog behaves in a way that you don’t like or worries you, and it can be linked specifically to periods of time when you leave them home alone, then yes, they may be suffering from separation anxiety. If there are other causes for the behaviour, such as a lot of activity outside that causes them to bark, your dog is bored and so chews the furniture or pees inside because you didn’t take them on a potty break, then these could also explain such behaviour. Try to understand your dog and how it reacts to certain situations, before you begin trying to break the behavioural patterns.
How can you treat separation anxiety?
There are several easy steps that you can follow to help prevent your dog from becoming anxious when you need to leave them home alone:
Walking your dog before you leave them home alone will help to tire them out; giving them an opportunity to burn some energy and go to the toilet.
Calm departures and arrivals
Try not to get your dog all excited before you leave them, and the same when you return. Your departures and arrivals need to be calm and without too much emotion, making the event an average one that doesn’t get your dog all worked up.
Mix up your routine
If your dog has begun to associate the picking up of keys with you leaving, and gets anxious when he sees you do this, try to pick up the keys and walk to the door a few times without leaving, normalising the activity. This will mean that your dog no longer knows when you’ll go and will hopefully not be so anxious each time you pick up your keys. You can do this with your entire routine of leaving the house; mix it up so that there are less signals for your dog to pick up on when you do leave them home alone.
‘I’ll be back’
Tell your dog this to help comfort them, and they will soon associate it with you returning to them after a short period away. But be warned that this may not work if you’re leaving your dog alone for an extended period.
If your dog continues to struggle with being left alone, or you are not happy for them to be left unattended for long periods, then it might be worth investing in a pet sitter or even asking a friend or neighbour if they can give your dog some company while you’re away.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, then you mustn’t shy away from the problem, as it will only ever get worse. Tackle it yourself if possible, seek professional help if it’s too much for you to handle, but never ignore it and expect it to go away. Healthy, happy pets are often a lot of hard work, but put the time and effort into them
and they will reward you a million times over.