How to deal with separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety in dogs is one of the most observed issues of all pet parents. Regardless of the breed, your dog may have separation anxiety due to various reasons. Many symptoms and behavioral changes accompany it. The condition tends to trigger when their companions and guardians leave their sight. A morning whimper of a lost shoe is not the sign of this condition. It goes way beyond that and causes extended behavioral changes. Separation anxiety is commonly found and can be dealt with effectively if attended on time.
General symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs
If your canine pal barks or whimpers when you leave or a stranger enters, it is quite reasonable. It is what they do. But if massive changes in their behavior accompany them, it is time to take action. Below are the common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs.
Urinating and Defecating
If your dog urinates at your presence or defecates in front of the guardian, it is not probably a sign of separation anxiety. But if the dog continues to urinate and defecate when their guardian leaves, it can be a sign because they get anxious when they are left alone.
Vigorous barking and howling
A dog with separation anxiety will bark and howl consistently and persistently. There may be no reason visible to trigger the barking apart from being alone. This is one of the very initial signs you will notice if your dog has separation anxiety. Your neighbors might complain of continuous barking without any visitors or anything that might trigger the dog.
A dog with separation anxiety tends to be very disturbing. It might chew or destroy the guardian’s belongings, mostly slippers and shoes. The dog will follow the guardian in the house and might start acting disruptive if it feels the companion is trying to leave the house.
The most common things they do are biting belts, shoes, slippers, and chew objects. Some dogs may even claw the doors and windows. It is also essential to know that most of these activities take place when they are alone. They will generally behave until the master leaves because they do not feel separated yet. These disruptive behaviors can cause self-injuries, damaged nails, scraped paws, and broken teeth.
Finding ways to escape
Dogs with separation anxiety try to avoid the premises when they are left alone. They will not attempt to escape when the guardian is around. When considering a dog with separation anxiety is left alone, they will dig and chew on windows and any possible opening to avoid. The reason for this behavior is to escape loneliness. They feel anxious when they stay alone and would want to escape to find a company. A dog who does not have separation anxiety also may dig and chew on windows, trying to escape. But this behavior is very reasonable because it mostly happens when the guardian is around and when the dog wants to play.
Pacing in different patterns
If a dog continuously paces in circular patterns or goes back and forth in straight lines while the guardian is not around, it can be a sign of separation anxiety. Dogs who do not have this condition do not behave otherwise when their guardian is not at home.
Excessive salivation, drooling and panting
When considering a dog with separation anxiety who is left alone, they will drool and salivate excessively because they are busy looking for their guardian. Panting is a common sign of anxiety in humans, as well. The dog might start panting in anxiety when its companion leaves. They will behave very differently towards strangers when they are left without the guardian.
Causes of separation anxiety in dogs
There is no particular reason or cause for dog anxiety. It can be very different from one to another. It is found out that shelter dogs are more prone to separation anxiety. These abandoned dogs that may have lost someone important in the past may cause separation anxiety very often. Certain dog breeds, especially human-oriented small breeds, may have separation anxiety when left alone. Some breeds are naturally anxious when their guardian leaves them alone.
Life changes or changes in houses also can bring anxiety in dogs. Separation from the guardian, their home, or lifestyle can cause anxiety in dogs. Anything that separates them can be the cause of the condition. Separation anxiety can occur in dogs when there is a sudden loss of the family – a death, a divorce, a child going to university, etc.
How to reduce separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety can cause stress to the dog as well as the guardian. None of us want this to repeat. We do not want to come to a destructed house or find the shoes are gone or lost. As bad as it can be, there are certain things you can try to reduce separation anxiety in dogs.
A dog who is tired after a good playtime is more likely to settle down when you leave the premises. It is good to give them enough chances to play and exercise physically and mentally. It will help them become content and will not have any separation anxiety as they already had enough time with you.
Sometimes, no amount of training and exercise will work for you. If your dog is older, it is challenging to treat separation anxiety through training and exercise. In such a situation, taking the dog to the veterinarian and get medication to calm the dogs down by giving medicines for depression and anxiety is the ultimate solution. These are more likely to work better on older dogs.
You can teach your puppy from its childhood that separation can have rewards. Leave them for a short while, and treat them with something to make them happy. The older they get, they will eventually get used to staying alone without getting anxious and developing separation anxiety.
Conclusion: Separation anxiety in dogs can be stressful, but it can be treated Almost all pet parents go through the phase of ‘separation anxiety in dogs.’ But it is nothing to worry about. Make sure you pay attention and give time to your pet’s behavior very well, so you can identify the signs way early. The earlier you detect the condition, the easier it is for you to treat the dog.
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