For many people, getting out of the door while leaving their dogs behind is the most difficult part of their day. You may have had to sneak out multiple times because the jingle of your keys is bound to start an incessantly loud barking fit. And God have mercy when that becomes a howling session that forces your politest neighbor to scream and shout just as loud. When combined with scratching walls, escaping from the room and destroying possessions, this can easily become a job for dog training specialists.
Is Your Dog Really Suffering from Separation Anxiety?
First off, not every whining, howling and scratching session is a sign of separation anxiety. In some cases, your pooch may be suffering from simulated separation anxiety, a behavioral issue which your dog displays because he lacks leadership and self-control. By acting up, your dog knows that you’ll give him the attention he needs. Even negative attention can be considered a reward, motivating your dog to carry on his bad behavior. Dog behavior modification training will be necessary in this case.
On the other hand, true separation anxiety occurs when your pet believes that they may become separated from you. It sets in within a few hours from you leaving the room, causing your dog to become fearful, apprehensive, clingy, hyperactive, extremely verbal, and destructive. Some dogs also exhibit physical symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.
What’s Causing Your Dog’s Problem?
There are mainly four causes that drive your dog to act, well, berserk and misbehave around the house.
Traumatic Event – If you’re adopting a dog from the shelter, chances are that the poor thing had been abandoned by her previous owners. Because she fears that you too will do the same, she may not be willing to let you leave her sight.
Change in Routine – If you suddenly change your work timings or, for instance, end up going out every evening, your dog will suspect that something’s up. He may start believing that you’re moving on and away without him, clinging on to you.
Major Life Change – Dogs are very sensitive to changes such as new babies or the death of family members. The surprise may put them off their usual routine, scaring them with time.
Medical Condition – Unfortunately, your dog’s behavior may be changing because of a medical condition. For instance, his urination habit may be the result of incontinence while his howling may be caused by pain.
How to Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety
If any of these causes apply to your case, you need to start rehabilitating your pooch the minute she arrives at your home. If she’s still a puppy, you’re in luck because you can spare yourself a lot of hassle. First off, don’t pick her up or give her a treat if she cries in her crate. Next, teach her to be quiet for long time periods; you can increase the duration eventually to teach her patience. To ensure that she doesn’t get bored on her own, give her a few toys for her to chew on and play with. Also make her accept the crate. After getting her to explore it under your supervision, teach her the limits and boundaries of her new environment. You can always rely on private dog training to help you in this regard.
Tips to Ease His Separation Anxiety
If your dog has already started exhibiting signs of this behavioral issue, follow the five pointers below to ease his worries.
Take your dog for a brisk walk in the morning. To make this exercise more rigorous, you can use a dog backpack with additional weights. Reward his good behavior with food and water and let him rest while you’re away.
Don’t make leave or returning to your home a big fuss. Avoid eye contact, talking and touching to indicate that your time apart wasn’t a big deal. If you’re having trouble with this tip, share affection with your pooch long before you leave. Keep in mind that this display is for you since your dog won’t be hurt if you didn’t say goodbye.
Don’t feel nervous, guilty or concerned around your dog. Exude confidence because you’re a pack leader. If you lose your calm, your dog may grow anxious and start acting up.
Test your pooch by leaving him alone every day for 5-20 minutes. After he gets accustomed to it, extend the time to an hour. Continuously increase the time until you can leave for eight hours without returning to a major mess.
Take your dog to dog school or request in home dog training to teach your dog to be respectful and confident. This will make him less reliant on you, allowing you to leave home in peace.
The road ahead isn’t easy and you’re bound to come across many hurdles in the way. However, once your dog gets offer her separation anxiety, she’ll be the good girl you’ve always wanted her to be. And you can forget about sneaking out of the house from that day onwards.