Table of Contents:
- What causes separation anxiety
- How to treat minor separation anxiety
- How to handle a more severe problem
- How to adapt while your dog figures out to be calm
- What won't help
- Does Your Dog Need a Calming Bed to Reduce Separation Anxiety?
Does your dog freak out when you leave?When your dog appears to worry when you're going out, ruins stuff when you leave the house, follows you from room to room when you are home, goes crazy when you return and seems to be eyeing you suspiciously even before you leave—you might be dealing with a case of separation anxiety.
Dogs with separation anxiety show distress and behavior issue when they are left alone. Some of the most common ways:
- Digging and scratching at doors or windows trying to reunite with their owners
- Destructive chewing
- Howling, barking and whining
- Urination and defecation
What causes separation anxiety
It's not completely understood why a few dogs experience from separation anxiety and others don't. But keep in mind, your dog's behaviors are part of a panic response. Your dog isn't trying to punish you! They just want you to get back home!
These are some of the situations that can trigger separation anxiety:
- Being left alone for the first time.
- Being left alone unexpectedly.
- Suffering a traumatic event, such as time at a shelter or boarding kennel.
- Change in the family's practice or structure, or the loss of a family member or other pet.
How to treat minor separation anxiety
- Don't make a big deal out of arrivals and departures — ignore your pet for the first few minutes then calmly pet them.
- Leave your dog with previously worn clothes that smell like you.
- Make a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you will be back.
- Try using an over-the-counter calming product that lessens fearfulness in dogs.
How to handle a more severe problem
Use the strategies outlined above along with desensitization training. Teach your furry kids the sit-stay and down-stay orders using positive feedback. This practice will help them learn that they can stay calmly and happily in one spot while you go to another room.
Establish a "safe place" to limit your dog's ability to be destructive while you are away. A safe place should:
- Confine the dog loosely (a room with a window and toys, not total isolation)
- Contain busy toys for distraction
- Have dirty laundry to lend a calming scent cue or other safety cues
How to adapt while your dog figures out to be calm
It require some time for your dog to forget their panic response to your departures. To help you and your dog adjust for the time being, think about the following interim solutions:
- Ask your veterinarian about medication treatment to lessen their overall anxiety.
- Take your dog to a doggie daycare facility or kennel when you have to be away.
- Leave your dog with a friend, family member or neighbor when you're away.
- Take your dog to work with you, if possible.
What won't help
- Punishment. Punishment is not effective for treating separation anxiety and can make things worse.
- Another dog. Getting your dog a companion typically doesn't help an anxious dog as their anxiety is the outcome of their separation from you, not just the result of being alone.
- Crating. Your dog will still engage in anxiety responses inside a crate, and they may urinate, defecate, howl or even injure themselves in an attempt to escape. Instead, create other kinds of "safe places" as described above.
- Radio/TV noise. Leaving the radio or television on won't help (unless the radio or TV is used as a safety cue).
- Obedience training. While formal training is always a good idea, separation anxiety isn't the result of disobedience or lack of training.
If you need more assistance resolving your dog's issues, consult a professional animal behavior specialist.
Does Your Dog Need a Calming Bed to Reduce Separation Anxiety?
If your canine is prone to feeling anxious when you are not home or when experiencing loud noises, there is a good chance he might benefit from the comfort of a calming bed—in addition to proper training and other calming products.
To calm your dog for bed, promote relaxation by using gentle strokes down the side of his face or body, stroking his chest in a circular motion, and massaging his ears.
With the right bed and other measures, you can rest assured that your four-legged friend is on his way to living a better, more relaxed life.