Separation Anxiety in Dogs and How Can You Help?
What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Separation anxiety in dogs is a condition in which a dog becomes too attached to their owner, and become incredibly distressed when left with them. Being alone can then cause the dog to become very anxious, panicked, and generally unwell.
It is more than just missing you, a dog with separation anxiety will be entirely unable to cope when left alone. This is more than just missing their friend, separation anxiety in dogs can cause some severely bad behavior.
What are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
If you’re worried about separation anxiety in dogs, then there are some clear signs that you need to look out for. These are the main symptoms you’ll see:
A dog suffering from separation anxiety is likely to be quite destructive when left alone. It is easy to get mad at them for this behavior. However, they are acting out of anxiety rather than malice.
Separation anxiety in dogs can manifest itself as whining and barking. A dog that is anxious about being alone is likely to howl and express themselves audibly, this can be a problem if they do this all night when alone.
Peeing/ Pooping Indoors
Separation anxiety in dogs can lead to them ignoring their toilet training when left alone. When they’re stressed and frightened, they might not be able to hold it in.
How Can You Help Your Dog with Separation Anxiety?
Reverse Training (Desensitization)
Desensitization for separation anxiety in dogs is a difficult treatment but it can be quite effective. To do it properly you need to be sure that you’re helping the dog to recover from their anxiety and not just putting them through more bad experiences. To start with, you need to identify when your dog gets anxious.
If they begin to get distressed when you start getting ready to leave, you need to teach them that this process is nothing to be afraid of. At a random point throughout the day, you should go through your normal routine for leaving the house. This will gradually teach your dog that this doesn't always mean being left alone.
To deal with their anxiety while you aren’t there, you need to train them into becoming okay when alone. This starts by ensuring they can effectively perform sitting and staying without you in the room. Practice this the normal way you’d teach your dog a trick, but getting further away from them over time. You should then practice this game around the door that you normally exit from.
After some time of doing this, your dog will feel reassured that leaving through this door is part of the game, and they'll be rewarded for good behavior when you leave. Repeat this while gradually increasing the length of time your dog is alone for.