Separation anxiety in Dogs

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Separation anxiety in Dogs.

Does your dog get nervous when they are left home alone? Do they go bonkers with joy when you start to put on your shoes? Do they destroy your house when they are left alone?

Your dog may have separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety happens when a dog that’s very attached to their owner gets super-stressed when left alone.  It’s a serious condition and one of the main reasons owners get frustrated with their dogs and give them up. But there are many things you can do to help.

First, understand why your dog acts this way:

Being left alone for the first time or when they are used to being with people.  Change of ownership, moving from a shelter to a home, Change in routine or schedule or loss of a member of your family.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

I was away for the weekend and had a friend come in to feed and walk my dog.  I received a call from my neighbor asking if everything was okay.  Apparently my dog was howling excessively.  When he was young he would chew everything in sight.  Another sign of anxiety was he would drool and pant more than normally.

They likely won’t do any of these things while you’re around. A normal dog might do some of these things once in a while, but one with separation anxiety will do them almost all the time when left alone.

For puppies I recommend to give your dog a special treat each time you leave (like a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter). Only give them this treat when you’re gone, and take it away when you get home. Stay calm and low-key without a lot of greeting. Ignore your pup for the first few minutes after you get home. Leave some recently worn clothes out that smell like you.

A dog with severe anxiety won’t be distracted by even the tastiest treats. You’ll need to slowly get them used to your absence.

They may start to get nervous when they see signs you’re about to leave, like putting on your shoes or picking up your keys. So do those things, but then don’t leave. Put on your shoes and then sit down at the table. Pick up your keys and watch TV. Do this over and over for the first little while.

When your dog starts to feel less anxious about that, you can slowly start to disappear. First just go on the other side of the door. Ask your dog to stay, then close an inside door between you. Reappear after a few seconds. Slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone. Put on your shoes and pick up your keys. Ask your dog to stay while you go into another room.

Only you can tell if your dog is ready to be left alone for longer periods. Don’t rush things. Give your dog a stuffy when you leave.  I do this and he brings me his stuffy when I get home. Stay calm when you leave and when you return.  Your dog will become used to you coming and going and feel less stressed about staying home alone.