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Helping Dogs Relax When Home Alone: Soothing Separation Fears

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

For many dog owners, the bond with their dog is deep and cherished. However, there can be moments of heartache when our dogs struggle with separation anxiety. In this blog, we will explore what separation anxiety is, its common causes, signs to watch for, and practical steps to help your beloved canine friend overcome this challenging condition.


What is Canine Separation Anxiety?

Canine separation anxiety is a distressing condition where dogs become emotionally distressed when separated from their owners or left alone. This anxiety often leads to undesirable behaviors as the dog tries to cope with their fear and panic.


Common Causes

Understanding the potential causes of tour dog's separation related behavior problems is crucial to addressing the issue effectively. Some common triggers include:


1. Change in Routine: Dogs are creatures of habit, and significant changes in their daily routine or environment can lead to anxiety.


2. Past Trauma: Dogs with a history of abandonment or mistreatment may be more prone to separation anxiety.


3. Lack of Socialization: Dogs that haven't been adequately socialized may struggle when separated from their owner.


4. Over-Attachment: Dogs that are overly attached to their owners may become anxious when left alone.


5. Genetics: Genetics can play a role on your dog's behavior as well. Anxious dogs produce anxious puppies.


Understanding and Overcoming Canine Separation Anxiety


Recognizing the Signs

The signs of separation anxiety can vary from dog to dog, but some common behaviors include:


  • Excessive barking, whining, or howling.

  • Destructive chewing or digging that only happens when left alone.

  • House soiling when left alone only, even if previously house-trained.

  • Attempts to escape confinement.

  • Pacing, drooling, and trembling.

  • Excessive salivation.

  • Following you excessively when you are getting ready to leave the house.


Steps to Help Your Dog


1. Gradual Desensitization: Start by leaving your dog alone for a short period of time that does not illicit the problematic response. As your dog is sucsessful, you can gradually increase the duration. This can help them become more accustomed to your absence.


2. Meet Your Dog's Needs: Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help alleviate anxiety. Engage your dog in activities like puzzle toys, fun training games, and interactive play.


3. Consistency: Maintain a consistent daily routine for your dog, including meal times and walks. Predictability can help reduce anxiety.


4. No More Home Alone: Stop leaving your dog home alone for periods of time that are longer than they can tolerate without stress. Consider doggie day care of a pet sitter for days you have to leave the house.


5. Seek Professional Help: If your dog's separation anxiety is severe or doesn't improve with these strategies, consult a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist.


Dealing with canine separation anxiety can be challenging, but with patience, understanding, and consistent training, it's possible to help your dog overcome their anxiety. By implementing an evidenced based training protocal, you can help your dog build confidence and enjoy a happier, more relaxed life, even when you're apart.

 

Need help solving your dog's separation related behavior problem? Reach out to discuss things further.

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