Canine Separation Anxiety

Does he soil the house or destroy things while you’re gone? Is he generally anxious when you’re getting ready to go out?

It’s great you have a loving dog that is your constant companion but the reality is we can’t be with our furry friends all the time and that sometimes means that our dogs can get very anxious when left alone. Simply put dogs with separation anxiety are usually overly attached to or dependent on one or more family members. As a result when you get ready to go out or go out they can worried and start showing signs of stress like barking, soiling, pant, salivate and become naughty and destructive. They are also normally excessively pleased to see an owner on their return. Separation anxiety isn’t fun for the dog or the owners and is a major cause of dogs ending up in rescues centres. However, separation anxiety can be resolved.

The first thing to remember is that your dog’s behaviour is caused by anxiety and so doing everything you can to reduce anxiety at other times as well as during separations will be a great first step. Ensure when you are getting ready that you are calm, organised and relaxed and when you return do so equally calmly and don’t fuss your dog immediately on return take your coat off, put the kettle on and make it seem like a normal event not like you’re greeting a long lost friend as this makes you going and returning more stressful for your pet.

At first, it’s usually best to find an alternative to leaving the dog alone while you are gone, to prevent damage and barking problems. Getting a dog walker can help but doggie day care is generally the best answer as the dog will have company through the day. We do day care at Calagran Four Paws hotel if you would like further advice on this.

During retraining it is key to develop a routine. Start to introduce periods where your dog is asked to stay on a mat or the floor away from you for period of time and then reward them if they settle like this for a while with the attention they want. Increase this to being left in another room and then short periods alone in the house. At first the period alone in the other room may only be very short but you can then increase and progress. It can be a slow process but well worth it.

When you leave don’t make it a big thing or make too much fuss of the dog. It is also good to make your leaving a positive experience by giving the dog something nice, that they don’t have at other times and something that will help keep them occupied while you are gone. Make sure the item is safe for them to have while alone like a kong stuffed with treats. Before long you will have a happy, confident and independent dog.

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