What To Do When Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
While most dogs don’t like to be separated from their fur parents, some take it very hard.
Studies show that up to 40% of all dogs show symptoms of separation anxiety. This common canine behavior problem is described in Science Daily’s research on canine separation anxiety as what happens when an extremely bonded dog is left alone or kept away from its owner. Because separation anxiety is rooted in the relationship between a dog and its owner, its manifestations can vary widely.
Generally, though, separation anxiety can be very difficult for both dogs and owners. What may seem sweet at first, can very easily evolve into more problematic behavior. Therefore, if your dog seems to be acting up whenever you’re separated, here are some ways you can manage it:
For Mild Cases:
If your dog’s separation anxiety is pretty mild, the most common symptoms they’ll show are irregular vocalizations and nervous chewing. To remedy this, try some of our previously shared tips on “How to Stop Your Dog From Chewing on Things”. This includes leaving your scent behind and offering alternative items to chew on. For the former, leaving a blanket or some clothes that you’ve used will soothe your dog. At the same time, leaving your scent on items you don’t want them to chew will signal to your dogs that these items are off-limits. Meanwhile, for the latter, providing dogs with chew toys and treats will help them channel their anxious energy and take their mind off chewing other things. If your dog is a particularly aggressive chewer, a bully stick is a great option. Made from all-natural beef muscle, bully sticks are high in protein and low in fat aside from being especially durable. This way, they will last them for quite a while as they work off their anxiety.
For Moderate Cases:
Now, if your dog’s separation is more pronounced, even tasty treats and your scent will not be enough. In this case, your best bet is to get them to calm down through a variety of natural methods. Some examples in PetMD’s article on calming your dog focus on redirecting your dog’s anxious energy so that they’re in a more relaxed state. For instance, some exercises may help your dog use up some energy so they’re more likely to feel encouraged to nap while you’re gone. At the same time, stimulate their senses with music or pheromones. Studies have shown that dog-appeasing pheromones (which come in collars, sprays, or plug-ins) can mimic the hormones that mother dogs use to calm pups. Music, on the other hand, has been found to ease anxiety in dogs, though the genre depends largely on your dog’s preference. Once your dog is in a calmer state, it’ll be less likely to act out or resort to anxiety-driven behaviors.
For Severe Cases:
In some cases, though, more drastic measures will be needed if your dog has started to exhibit more worrisome symptoms like aggression, compulsiveness, or depression. For starters, if your dog has become particularly destructive, you may want to acquire dog liability insurance. As explained in a comprehensive guide to dog liability insurance on Sound Dollar, this policy pays for injuries or property damage caused by your pet. In the worst-case scenario, dog liability insurance even covers bites that your dog may inflict on someone. Annual dog liability claims can run up to $50,000, so by having this type of insurance in place it will help soften the blow if you encounter any unforeseen bills.
Next, you’ll also want to work on long-term methods to alleviate their separation anxiety. More often than not, the best way to achieve this is with the help of a professional like a dog trainer or a vet. Since they’re experts in animal behavior, they can help teach your dog (and you) techniques that will make your separation easier. One of these approaches involves crate training. In Daily Paw’s overview of crate training, this is described as a great way to introduce a safe and cozy space that your dog can retreat to. While this will require you to put more time and effort into training your dog, crate training can become a great compromise for you and your dog. This way, they won’t be roaming unsupervised in your home and at the same time, they will feel more secure being in their “own space”. Crate training can take time, though, so it’s best to start the process as early as possible before you’re due to leave them.
In closing, canine separation anxiety isn’t something to just shrug off and hope the situation will get better. Though it may seem fairly mild, it can easily escalate and cause more serious distress to your pooch. Rather than simply providing band-aid solutions like hugs or buying additional pets, try offering more meaningful solutions that will keep you and your pup happy and more independent.
Article contributed by Rianne Jules