Anxiety over separation is among the most common problems that dogs develop.
Also meaning anxiety disorder, it is defined as a state of intense panic brought on by the dog’s long isolation or separation from his owner.
In other words when you leave for work in the morning, your dog is plunged into a state of nervous anxiety which intensifies extremely quickly even when you are out for a few hours.
Dogs are social animals who need company and social interaction to keep them happy and content.
No dog likes to be left alone for long stretches of time, but some do a lot worse than others.
These are the ones most prone to separation anxiety.
Having said that, there are various contributing causes to the condition:
Some breeds are genetically vulnerable to anxiety and insecurity.
This is what you should consider before deciding which breed you are going to own.
The more aggressive ones are Weimaraners, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds and Airedales
A significant number of shelter dogs develop separation anxiety.
Most have undergone significant trauma in their lives such as being abandoned by their previous owners.
Therefore they have little trust that their new-found owner whoever he or she may be.
Dogs separated from their mothers and siblings too early have been identified as being especially prone to separation anxiety.
Puppies from pet-stores are a perfect example of this.
They are usually taken from their mothers well before the earliest possible age which is 8 weeks.
After which they are confined to a small glass box within petstore for anywhere between a few weeks to 2 months.
This early weaning, coupled with the lack of exercise and affection while in the petstore, is psychologically traumatic for the dog.
Neglect has been a top cause of separation anxiety for dogs.
If you’re absent much more than you’re present in your dog’s life, separation anxiety is pretty much inevitable.
Your dog needs your company, affection, and attention in order to be happy and content.
The symptoms of separation anxiety are pretty distinctive: your dog will usually learn to tell when you are about to leave.
Such as hearing keys jingling, will see you putting on your outdoor clothes and will become anxious.
He may follow you from room to room, whining, trembling and crying.
Some dogs even become aggressive, in an attempt to stop their owners from leaving.
After you left, the anxious behavior will rapidly worsen and usually will peak within half an hour.
He may bark incessantly, scratch and dig at windows and doors in an attempt to escape from confinement and reunite herself with you.
He can also chew inappropriate items, even urinate and defecate inside the house.
In extreme cases, he might self-mutilate by licking or chewing her skin until it becomes raw or pulling out fur.
Or worse, engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviors, like spinning and tail-chasing.
Upon your return, she will be excessively excited and will leap around you in a frenzy of delight for more than a few minutes.
This extended greeting is a source of some misunderstanding: without realizing that such a greeting actually signifies the presence of a psychological disorder.
Some owners actually encourage their dog to get more and more worked up upon their return by fueling the dog’s excitement, encouraging her to leap around, paying her protracted attention and so on.
If yo are behaving in this way with your dog, please stop.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize your dog’s tendency towards anxiety.
Here is a short list of dos and don’ts:
1. Exercise The Heck Out Of Him
Really wear her out.
The longer you expect to be away, the more he should exercise before you leave.
For example, if you are leaving for work in the morning, he will probably be by herself for at least 4 hours.
If you got a dog-walker to take him out mid-day instead of coming back yourself, he will not see you – as the person he really cares about – for at least 8 hours.
So he needs a good and vigorous walk for at least 15 to 20 minutes before you walk out that door.
More is even better.
2. Distract Him From Her Boredom
By providing an attractive alternative to pining, pacing, and whining.
All dogs love to chew – why not play on this predisposition?
Get a couple of marrow bones from the butcher, bake them in the oven for 20 minutes.
This is so that they go nice and hard and crunchy.
And he cannot smear marrow all over your furniture.
Then slice them up into chunks of a few inches long, and give him one about 15 minutes before you leave.
This will keep him happy and acts as a smokescreen for your departure.
1. Over Sympathetic
Act overtly sympathetic when he is crying.
Although it sounds very cold-hearted, trying to soothe and comfort your dog by patting and cooing over him is actually among the worst things you can do.
This is essentially validating his concern.
2. Reprimanding Or Abusing
This is the exact opposite of the first point.
While it is understandable for you to be punctual at your workplace, do not reprimand or behave abusively towards the dog even if you know it is dragging your time.
This will make your dog’s subsequent behaviour worse than it is already.
If you like to know more about dealing with your dog’s separation anxiety, you might like to check out Secrets to Dog Training.
This a great learning tool for anyone who wants to learn how to deal constructively with their dog’s problem behaviors.