Famously known as man’s best friend – dogs are lovely, making the world a happier place simply by being a part of it. Well, not only the world, for many owners they’re a constant source of support. With a dog around there are often few things to worry about.
As a dog lover, I know all too well how it feels to come back home after a tiring day at work to find my little ball of fur wagging his tail with love and jumping with excitement. He does this every day, and I can’t help but forget all about all my worries and tiredness.
If you are a dog lover and have one of your own then you can better understand how it feels when they show you the same excitement every time you come back home.
Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. There are times when a pet parent returns home to find a heartbreaking scene of their dog trembling with fear, or wet from drool.
The destructive sight makes them feel bad, and they may even end up feeling frustrated and resort to punishing their dog. Oftentimes owners think that their dog may need some additional house training, failing to realize that they might actually be suffering from separation anxiety.
If you are a dog parent and find yourself in this position, then don’t worry, this article will guide you through the problem, its symptoms, and tips to deal with the same.
So, without any further ado, let’s roll.
Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious concern, but not many pet parents know about it. It is a situation under which your dog starts exhibiting destructive behaviour when he does not find his human friend around.
Dogs are social animals, and they prefer to live in packs or with the people they are attached to. In this case, it is you they like spending time with. So, when they do not see you around and left to their own devices while their owner is out at work, they may start feeling distressed, resulting in destructive behaviour.
Well, one cannot say that there is a single cause for dogs to develop this destructive response when left alone; it may be related to a traumatic event or a change that they may have found upsetting. Such instances may include:
- Death of a loved one
- Moving to a new home
- Their owner taking on more/different hours at work
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
A dog with separation anxiety may exhibit many behavioural symptoms. So, if you are checking on your dog to see if he is suffering from the same or not, remember that your dog will only exhibit these symptoms when he does not find you around.
A few symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include:
#1. Excessive Howling and Barking
Maybe your neighbour has mentioned that your dog has been howling and barking while you were out at work.
It can be easy to feel angry towards your dog if your neighbour has complained about the noise while you were out, however, being angry won’t help anything. You have to understand that your dog might be having some troubles, leading to constant barking and howling.
#2. Attempt to Escape
Has your dog taken to destroying your doors, walls or windows while you were out? This might be a sign that your dog is trying to escape. When your dog does not find you around, they can sometimes try to escape in the hope that they might find you.
Well, such an attempt may also result in self-harm, and he may end up having broken nails, teeth, or scraped paws, making this a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
#3. Urinating/Defecating Indoors
Have you found that your dog has started to urinate and/or defecate while you’re out of the house even though they’re fully toilet trained?
Coming home to a wet and smelly floor is enough to make anybody angry, but please be patient with your dog and try to figure out why they’ve taken to making a mess. Did they have time to go the toilet before you left for work, or could this be another symptom of separation anxiety? Try to understand what your dog is going through.
Have you ever noticed your dog moving in a set direction, like along a straight line or in a circular motion? Well, dogs with separation anxiety usually do this. To get over the feeling of stress, they start moving along a patterned direction.
So, these are a few symptoms that will help you know if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
Now that you what separation anxiety is and its symptoms, let’s find out how to deal with the situation.
How to Deal With Separation Anxiety
When it comes to separation anxiety, many people think that they might require some help from a medical professional (i.e. a vet) to deal with the issue, though you may be able to handle the situation yourself by following a few dog care tips mentioned below:
#1. Change Your Usual Routine
The first way to treat your dog of separation anxiety is by changing your usual way of leaving the house. Break the association of your dog with your departure.
For instance, start using a different door to leave the house, or if you notice that your dog starts panicking right after he sees you putting on your coat or shoes, then try putting on your coat and shoes without leaving the house to break their association.
This will help your dog understand that you don’t leave every time you put on your shoes or clothes. Thus, he will get comfortable seeing you do so.
#2. Don’t make a big fuss when you’re leaving or when you return
A lot of the time owners will make a big fuss of their dog when they’re leaving the house in the morning and when they return later on, but this can actually be detrimental for your pet.
It does feel great to make a fuss of your pet every time you leave the house or come back, but it can contribute to your dog feeling anxious when they do not find you around.
So, the best thing to do here is not showing much affection to your dog when you are about to leave or when you come back home. Try and ignore them for a little bit to let them settle.
#3. Train Your Dog to Stay Independent
One of the best ways to keep separation anxiety at bay is by training your dog to stay independent. Allow him some personal space and time alone.
Also, do not let your pet stay with you all the time while you ae home. Make them stay in a room while you are in some other area of the house. This will help them to enjoy being alone and not look for you all of the time.
#4. Tire Your Dog Out
One of the best ways to keep your dog calm and comfortable while you are not home is to shift his focus towards sleeping, resting, or eating.
Before leaving for work, take your dog out for a walk. You can even tire them out a little faster by sticking a doggy backpack on your pet for the walk, helping to give them a bit more exercise. This will help shift the focus of your dog’s day either towards sleeping or looking for food, meaning he will stay calm while you are not around. Also, try and indulge your dog in various physical and mental activities.
Wrapping it Up
While separation anxiety is a very common problem among dogs, many owners do not realize how common and detrimental can be. It is easy to think that your dog is just playing up while you’re out and needs more training, though it may be that they’re suffering.
Punishing your dog for misbehaving will only worsen the situation. So, if you feel that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, do not punish them, instead, try some of the points previously mentioned above.
If the problem persists and you find that you’re unable to help your dog, it may be time to ask for help from a licensed and registered professional vet or a pet trainer.
Article provided by Danish Wadhwa – webdew Private Limited