What to Do If Your Dog Suffers From Separation Anxiety
If leaving your dog at home becomes a struggle because they either destroy the house, have accidents or drive your neighbors crazy by making a lot of noise whining,barking and scratching the door, it is time to tackle the issue. Before moving towards finding a solution you have to first figure out WHY your dog is acting this way. Dogs, like us, are very social animals having evolved alongside us over thousands of years, so dogs should never be left for too long on their own. If they get used to being left for short periods as pups, they are far more likely to grow up feeling relaxed and comfortable when left on their own as adult dogs. There are many different reasons why a dog shows problematic behavior when left alone. Just because a dog destroys your furniture, don’t assume they have separation anxiety. Instead, there may be medical issues, barrier issues, toilet training issues, boredom, or noise/environmental phobias. Is your dog bored or under-exercised? Dogs can simply get bored and destroy a home when left alone, especially young, active dogs with a strong working drive. If you suspect separation anxiety, you should first rule out boredom or lack of exercise and take your dog for a long walk and maybe a game of fetch before leaving the house. See if the result is any different. Also try leaving a treat ball or a toy filled with frozen peanut butter for your pup to tackle that boredom. If nothing changes, we recommend you also to see your vet – even if you don’t think there is a medical cause. Could there be medical reasons? If a dog is unwell, then they may show problematic behavior when left alone. Perhaps as they feel physically worse when they are left alone due to a lack of distraction, or with the owner not being there for them. Does your pup feel restrained? Barrier issues and/or frustration occur when a dog is confined or restricted, and wants to get out to join in with activities they can see or hear outside in the street. Dogs, people, possibly your voice – could be anything. Not being able to get to what they want causes them to become frustrated. It can be mistaken for separation anxiety if it regularly happens when the owner is not at home, but usually also occurs when the owner is home. Incomplete potty training Some owners believe because a dog can hold it for 10 hours at night, they should be able to do this during the day too. This is not only way too long for most dogs, but also very uncomfortable. Imagine how you would feel not using the washroom for 10 hours. And once a dog has toileted in a particular place, they often feel tempted to repeat this. If you work long hours, please hire a dog walker, ask your friends and family or come back in your lunch break. Separation anxiety This is commonly found when pups have had a bad start in life or have developed the wrong bond with their owners. It is common in certain smaller breeds who are bred to be companion animals. Sometimes people simply never teach the dog how to be alone, or a dog’s previous companion dog or owner passes away. Another risk factor is when the pup has been taken away from the mother too young (< 8-9 weeks). These can all trigger separation issues. When the puppy is taken away from their mother and littermates, there is a great disruption in the existing maternal bond, which must be transferred onto the new owner for the puppy to feel safe and secure. It is crucial that the new owner is able to make time to forge a correct bond with the puppy. Does my dog suffer from separation anxiety? You may have a problem if your dog shows the following symptoms once you are getting ready to leave the house:
- anxious behaviors like feet chewing.
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