Dog separation anxiety is one of the most usual problems that all dog owners have. This happens when the dogs are left alone; they will exhibit distress and behavior issues like digging, barking, whining, destructive chewing, and urination. Not all dogs experience this problem, but if your dog changes its behavior when you leave your house even for a short period of time, or starts reacting with excitement when it notice that you are preparing to leave, then your dog may have an anxiety problem.
The reasons of Dog Separation Anxiety
Dogs are pack animals and they like to be part of a group or a family, so they get accustomed to their owner’s companion, you can notice this if your dog follows you from room to room when you are home. Mainly, your dog feels this anxiety because they feel when you are about to leave and you pay too much attention to its feelings. The goal here is to teach your dog to overcome this anxiety when left by itself.
In order to reduce minor dog separation anxiety you have to take some measures; don’t reinforce this anxiety by petting your dog before you leave or when returning home and don`t let your dog notice that you also feel anxious for leaving or returning home because your dog will notice the way you feel and will react to your feelings. Change your morning routine so your dog will not know exactly when you will leave, this can reduce the leaving anxiety.
Since dog separation anxiety has to do with the attention you give your dog at the moments you leave and return home, reducing this attention will reduce too your dog’s anxiety. You can do it by ignoring your dog the first 15 minutes when you come back, do not pet it at your arrival. Also do not pay too much attention to any sad noises your dog does when you leave home. You may accomplish this using a crate or putting it in a separate room.
For more severe dog separation anxiety you may use crate training and teach it to overcome its anxiety, put it in the crate or in its own room, leave for different periods of time and come back, this way your dog will know that every time you leave you come back, but you will change the dog’s expectations on how long you will be gone. Although using crate training to reduce separation anxiety will increase other behavioral problems at the beginning don’t feel bad, you are not a mean person, you are helping your dog to be calm and relax when you are not home, if you feel your dog is suffering too much you can take your dog to a day center while you are away, leave it with a friend or neighbor, take your dog to work if possible.
Remember not to use punishment if you find all your backyard destroyed, if your dog behaves in unwanted manners, is not like revenge for you leaving it alone, it is just part of a panic response for feeling alone, but face this problem right away for the well being of you and your dog.