You might wonder, can dogs experience separation anxiety when you are away at work or on vacation? Yes, absolutely. Like us, canines can feel deep emotions, like anxiety, and act out. Dogs with separation anxiety is a condition in which a dog exhibits behavioral problems and signs of distress when separated from its owner or handler.
You might notice your dog barking noticeably loud as soon as you shut the front door. Separation anxiety usually manifests itself within seconds of you leaving the environment. However, this is not valid with all dogs, but it has been noted that dogs can show signs of this behavioral condition.
Does Your Dog Act Up When You Leave?
One of the most common problems is that their dogs are disruptive or destructive when left alone. Their dogs might pee in their crate or poop all over the carpet. Bark, howl, dig and chew on things incessantly are all behaviors associated with dogs with anxiety.
Although these problems usually are just a sign that a dog wants your attention and needs more training, they can also be symptoms of anxiety or distress when a pup's problems are paired with other key behaviors. Excessive drooling, loud barking, digging, and scratching indicate that it might be more than just training needed.
Bouts of separation anxiety are triggered when dogs become upset because they are apart from their guardians. Long-term anxiety can cause your dog further issues, and no one wants to think of their best friend in discomfort or agony.
Is Your Dog at Risk?
Dogs with separation anxiety can try to escape, which can result in injury and home damage. Not only that, chronic stress can cause more severe health problems in the future. Constant anxiety can lead to urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, ulcers, and other medical issues.
It's not always easy to determine whether a dog has separation anxiety or not. Some common behavior problems can cause similar symptoms.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- Urinating and Defecating (even consuming feces)
- Trying to Escape
- Digging or Destroying
- Excessive Itching
Related: Commonly Asked Questions
Don't Panic. Stay Calm, and they Will!
Try not to make a scene when you leave the room. Also, don't freak out, yell at or punish your dog. Anxious "acting out" when you leave is not usually the result of disobedience and spite. Your pup is telling you they are distressed, "Hey, I'm attached to you, and I'm freaking out here!"
When you leave, your dog displays these behaviors because they're upset and trying to cope with feelings. If you scold them too harshly, your pet may become even more upset, and the problem could worsen.
What Else You Can Do To Help Your Dog Stay Calm?
We can do a lot as owners, guardians, and handlers of these fine, friendly furry friends. This could be as simple as lifestyle changes, training techniques, treatments, and exercise routines. Here are just a few of the ways you can go about treating your dog's mild separation anxiety.
Sometimes a personal belonging that smells like you (like a sweater, plush or small blanket) can help ease your pet while you are away.
Give your dog, especially puppies, at least 25 minutes of activity (for example, running or fetch). Try to exercise and engage with your dog right before you have to leave them alone.
Scooby Doo knew best. Dogs do love their snacks! Plan a meal or snacks, so your dog looks forward to this time. Puzzle toys like Kongs with natural peanut butter, cheese, or treats are great right before you leave, and they can distract and occupy them during your exit. Some dog parents hide snacks throughout the room if the dog is left uncrated to keep them busy.
Pro Tip: A little bit of peanut butter in a Kong Toy can help keep your pup busy.
Keep toys in the crate with them. It helps to keep them busy and occupy their minds away from the fact that it is time for you to go to work. Providing your dog with lots of mental and physical stimulation is vital to treating many behavior problems.
Exercising your dog's mind and body with toys can significantly enrich their time spent, decrease stress and create specific outlets for good dog behaviors.
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Related: Our Story
Desensitize, Counter Condition and Medicine
More severe cases of separation anxiety will perhaps require a more complex treatment. Sometimes anxiety medicines can be used under the care of your vet. Desensitization and counterconditioning programs are also used to help train your dog.
In short, you can start training to gradually accustom your dog to flying solo by beginning with many short moments that do not produce as much anxiety. Then slowly but gradually increasing the duration of the time separated over many days. Desensitization and counterconditioning are complex and can be challenging to maneuver, so it is always best to talk to a professional trainer first.
What Should You Do First?
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