What Causes Separation Anxiety?
Various causes of separation anxiety include external factors such as noise or traffic, aggressive dogs roaming nearby, household changes, or simply a change in routine.
You will need to consider your dog’s personality and how they feel in certain situations to determine the reason for their anxiety. To accurately identify the cause, it may be necessary for you to enlist the help of a veterinarian.
Genetics could also play an important role in your dog’s separation anxiety. If he is closely related to another dog that was also anxious but who had the same problem as him, this could be a genetic factor that can be difficult to treat without extensive training.
You will also need to consider the geographical location of your home and where you live. If you live in an area that is not secure, this can contribute to your dog’s anxiety.
Your dog’s environment is crucial to his well-being and happiness, so it is vital that you are aware of any potential problems here before they occur. It may be wise to speak with a dog behavior specialist if you have any questions regarding your dog’s separation anxiety.
10 Ways to Help Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
1. Adapting to the Change
The first step is to adapt your dog’s environment to allow them to cope with a new routine. You will need to make some changes in your home to help your dog feel at ease when you are out and about. For example, leave the television on for background noise or play his favorite track of music. Play records and CDs as well as radio stations but turn off all the phones in the house. You may also consider leaving lights on throughout the house.
2. Create a Routine
Repetition and consistency are the keywords to remember when dealing with separation anxiety. You will need to create a routine for your dog that he can trust and rely on.
To begin with, you may choose to have a friend or family member spend time with your dog when you are not in the house. This gives your dog reassurance that there is someone around while you are out. You should also be consistent in the way you treat your dog during separation anxiety episodes (e.g., crate training or medication).
3. Crate Training
You will need to crate train your dog in the beginning as this is the best way for them to trust you and feel secure when you are not around. You should also consider taking your dog outside for some exercise and play to stop the anxiety from building up. If possible, try to take your dog out for a walk every day on a leash so that they have something familiar during separation anxiety episodes.
If you cannot bring yourself to crate train your dog, you may want to consider medication for his anxiety. Ask your vet if they have a non-sedating anti-anxiety medication that your dog could take daily. You should only give him the medication before you leave and again when you are back home where he can see you and be safe.
5. Behavioral Training
You will need to work closely with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to aid with separation anxiety problems. Your dog may be afraid of certain things (e.g., loud noises, vehicles), so you will need to be creative when working through sessions on the house and yard. You will also need to consider sessions on how to help your dog cope with other animals in the environment that they usually avoid (e.g., dogs, cats, horses, squirrels).
The key to dealing with separation anxiety is to understand your dog and where they are coming from. You should only use positive techniques when working with your dog so that he will continue to trust you and feel happy in his environment. You must also set some ground rules for the house around mealtimes. Your dog needs a predictable routine at mealtimes (e.g., you always feed him in the kitchen, then take him somewhere quiet for about 20 minutes).
You may need to ensure that your dog’s environment is clean and it is not littered with any loose items which could cause him to feel threatened. You should also limit visitors in the house or keep them outside (e.g., for a few hours) after you’ve left your dog alone. Eliminate anything that could be dangerous (e.g., poisonous plants) if your dog is particularly scared of something or someone.
7. Doggy Day Care
If your dog is terrified of not having a familiar person around, then a doggy daycare center may be the answer to your problems. Here, your dog can enjoy some time with other dogs in a safe and secure environment where they can relax without being threatened by anything.
8. Consistency Is The Key
The key to helping your dog overcome his separation anxiety is to provide him with consistency in his environment. He needs to understand what will happen when you leave the house and that everything will be okay with you just around the corner.
9. Try To Be Assertive
It’s important not to baby your dog during separation anxiety episodes, but it’s equally important not to enforce negative behavior on your dog. You should be assertive in a non-threatening manner so that you are acting as the household leader and keeping control of the situation rather than allowing things to go out of hand.
If you cannot help your dog with separation anxiety issues, you may need to accept that he cannot always be around you all of the time. Try to focus on the fact that this is a new beginning for your dog and that he will soon be able to cope with his separation anxiety issues.
As your dog grows older, he will no longer feel as anxious when being separated from you. This is the time to introduce him to new experiences and helping him to gain confidence in your absence.