Is your pet showing the signs of separation anxiety, or SAD? Do you know what are the common symptoms and how to deal with them?
Canines are social animals and love the company of their owners. Therefore, it’s not natural to leave them alone for a long time. Many hounds are trained to be left alone without any issues, but, if your pooch isn’t one of them, then you’ll have to do some work.
So, let’s see how can you help your four-legged friend overcome this fear.
What is Canine Separation Anxiety?
This condition happens when the pooch is overly attached to the owner and feels immense stress when he’s left alone. It’s more than just a bit of whining. In fact, SAD can become a severe issue, and it’s the main reason why pet parents get frustrated and end up giving their furry companions.
Some cases are more challenging than others, but, there are plenty of ways in which you can help your pooch overcome this fear and lead a normal and healthy life.
What Causes It?
- Routine Changes
Various rotations in a schedule can lead to this condition. For instance, if an owner works from home, and suddenly gets a job which requires him to leave a house for eight or more hours, then this can lead to severe separation anxiety in dogs.
In that case, make sure to change your pace gradually, if you want to avoid further issues.
Read more: Raising a Puppy When You Work Full Time
Breeds which bond faster to pet parents are likely to suffer more from this condition. They are too dependent on them and take it hard when they are left alone.
On the other hand, other dog breeds will not even notice when you leave the house. These types of canines will remain calm, whether you are at home or not.
The most anxious dog breeds are:
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Bichon Frises
- Cocker Spaniels
- Border Collies
- Life Changes
Specific life changes can significantly impact the life of your pooch. For example, moving from one place to another, or family changes can trigger dog anxiety symptoms.
Give your pooch a chance to get accustomed to the idea of having a different home and don’t give up on him too soon.
- Traumatic Experiences
Traumatic experiences often cause hounds to experience SAD. Shelter canines are among the most common pups to get exposed to this disorder, and they become fearful, then their owners leave them.
To overcome the initial signs, it requires a lot of time and patience. However, these pooches tend to recover with proper care.
Can Crate Training Help?
When you are home, you should focus on a dog separation anxiety crate and get your pooch familiar with it. Cages are an excellent solution to treat this problem because kennel will get your pet accustomed to an enclosed space.
For example, feed him while being insider, give him his favorite bone, or add in some toys. This should occupy your four-legged friend while you are away.
However, don’t put water because it tends to get messy. At some point, the cage should become a safe haven for your pooch. It will be a place where he will feel secure and enjoys spending time.
Also, a hound needs to have enough room, so he doesn’t feel trapped. Nowadays, the majority of dog kennels are made with a specific purpose. They should facilitate this entire experience and help your canine get accustomed to new living arrangements.
On the other hand, crate training is equally important, so make sure you know that you’re doing before you put your pooch in a limited space.
Read more: 11 Highest Rated Dog Kennels for 2019
Steps To Help Your Anxious Dog
- Build Your Dog’s Confidence
It is crucial to build your canine’s confidence and to achieve this; you must perform daily training sessions. You should have at least two to three training with your pet every day. However, don’t overwork your pup because each session should last at least two or three minutes.
For example, work on basic commands, such as sit, down, stay, and keep in mind that training should always be positive. Use food as a reward, and not as a bribe, to encourage good behavior and build self-esteem in your pooch.
In this way, you will motivate your four-legged friend to move forward.
- Provide A Secure Spot
Your canine needs to have a safe place to go when you leave. Therefore, he will feel secure and protected. For example, start introducing a “go to bed” command, and award him every time he complies with your orders.
Make sure to offer a lot of love, patience, and companionship when he is lying in bed. In fact, the bed should be the only place where you show your pet this kind of attention. In that case, he will find the bed a pleasant place to go, when you aren’t around.
- Promote Independence
The majority of pet parents don’t know what to do with a dog with this disorder. However, promoting independence can be one way to fix this issue. First of all, as painful as it may seem, start breaking that bond a bit.
You can’t expect your pup to be alright when he can’t be alone in another room when you are at home. It might be a good idea to discourage your pooch from following you everywhere. Additionally, you can use a large soft dog crate to break this bond and help your canine feel free.
Another thing that might help is finding a good crate location, so even when you want to separate from the dog, he still feels like part of the family.
- Give Toys And Treats During Alone Time
A dog toys can be quite useful because they keep your pooch occupied and busy while you are gone. Since there are a lot of manufacturers on the market, basically your choice is pretty vast.
But, you should find a toy that works best with your pooch and allow him to play with them only when you are away. Once you get home, make sure to remove all toys because they should serve only for special occasions.
- Keep Goodbyes & Greetings Short and Calm
We know how hard it to leave your pet alone. But, some dog owners don’t seem to understand how greetings and goodbyes can affect the mental condition of your furry companion.
The more you prolong them, the worse it will be. Therefore, greetings and goodbyes should be short and without emotions. In this case, you will create a neutral ground for your dog, and he won’t sense SAD at its fullest.
In fact, ignore your hound for 15 minutes before you leave and for 15 minutes after you get home.
- Change Your Routine
If it’s possible, don’t let your pet recognize a series of action in your behavior. Otherwise, he will expect the same tern of the events, which can make him more anxious.
Since humans are creatures of habit, sometimes it’s challenging to change our routine. But, to help your canine recover, you’ll have to take the necessary steps. For example, use a different door when leaving home, put your coat or keys in different places.
Make changes that will create a different picture. If you are watching a TV or checking your phone, and your pet gets up every time you make a move, then simply get up and sit down again. This will set him off the pace.
- Desensitize Your Absence
Once you get to the point where you can leave room for 15 minutes, and your canine doesn’t get upset, start leaving home. Tell him, “go to bed” command, give him his favorite toy, and then walk out. Again, go back after a couple of minutes. Repeat this action a few times, but prolonging your return.
Use a different schedule for how long you stay away, for instance, 1, 5, 2, 4, 7, 11, 10 minutes, and so on. In this case, your four-legged friend will have a hard time predicting your return.
Other Helpful Tips To Calm Your Dog
- Consider Giving Calming Supplements
Giving your pet calming supplements doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it might help with buildup stress. Before you purchase any of them, make sure there are no harmful ingredients. Some of the most effective include herbs such as:
– Chamomile: Calms nerves and encourages sleeping
– Passion Flower: Helps with anxiety
– Valerian: Minimizes tension
– Ginger root: Reduces stress, improves the immune system, and supports digestion
- Give Treats When You Leave
Treats can also reduce a certain level of stress in your pet. They can act as a bribe, so pooch looks forward to them every time you leave the house, or get back. However, make sure to limit the amount, as well as the frequency. Stick to the schedule, and resort to them only when you are away.
Regular training has the power to exhaust your canine, which further keeps his mind occupied. He won’t have enough strength to think about anxiety, while his sole focus is on rest. You can incorporate these training sessions a couple of times a week, or adjust them to your pet’s pace.
- Leave Your Old Clothes With Your Scent
Hounds recognize people by smell, so leaving your clothes behind can be a logical step. If you are dealing with a dog anxious in crate, then tuck your favorite shirt inside. It will keep your furry-companion calm until you get back.
- Play Interactive Games
Besides toys we already mentioned, games can also boost the confidence in your canine and help him calm his nerves. Help him adjust to your absence by making him participate in various games when you are around.
It would be good if you could train your canine to follow specific commands, so he knows what to expect.
Our recommendation: 5 Best Stimulating Interactive Toys for Dogs
How To Prevent Separation Anxiety?
Many pet parents wonder how to break it and are there any ways to prevent this condition. Some of the things we managed to research provided the most effective results:
- Ignore the dog
- Keep calm and cool
- Bypass meltdowns
- Use separation anxiety dog crate
- Make this experience fun and enjoyable for your pooch
- Don’t show too many emotions
- Make sure your pet sleeps alone
- Offer additional activities, rather than keep him bound to you
The SAD poses a severe threat to any dog’s health. However, that’s something you can’t avoid, and only patient and dedicated pet parents can help their pooches overcome this disorder.
In this article, we tried to look into signs of anxiety in dogs, as well as, explain the possible outcome. The rest is up to you! We strongly believe that if you learn how to calm them through training, you will solve the majority of this issue.
Don’t give up on your friend, be patient, and give him a chance to recover.