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Dealing with dogs that have seperation anxiety

Updated on April 7, 2017

Warning Signs

Dogs are remarkably sensitive to the warning signs that you are about to leave, such as picking up house keys or putting on your shoes/coat. Some signs of separation anxiety are as followed.

1. Pacing.

2. Drooling.

3. Barking.

4. Nipping at your clothing.

5. Acts Excited.


After you've returned:

1. Defecating or urinating.

2. Destructiveness

3. Excessive Licking or Biting Self.

4. Constant Barking

5. Excessive Welcome.



Causes

Separation anxiety is often our own fault. We misguide our dogs by acts of kindness when the dog is demanding. That being said, separation anxiety is most common in single family households. Why? Because owners seek attention from their pets just as much as dogs do. It is very important to teach your dog how to be self-sufficient from the get-go.

Dog Breed, also has a lot to do with anxiety. Dogs that are nervous or great natural attention seekers may receive or solicit extra care and attention causing an excessive close bond and an over-dependency to develop.

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Prevention

Start young. Teach the dog that it is normal to be left alone for periods of half an hour to an hour several times a day, and even longer at night. Do this gradually, starting with five minutes per session. Give the dog its own area, such as a pen or cage, where you will visit it. The dog will fuss, but wait till it quiets down before you go give it attention, but not too much. Be unpredictable. Don't let your dog out every time you come into the room. You want to avoid reinforcing expectations of attention. Also, do not give your dog affection every time it seeks it.

Reducing Dependence

Your dog should receive its toys and food when not in your company. To do this, I recommend a Kong. A toy made to be stuffed with food or treats. This will help produce a positive association with your absence. Keep your dog in the kitchen area when you are out. Feed your dog his daily dinner only through the toy. Ration your dogs food into 3 meals. Place the toy on the kitchen floor, and walk out of the room. This will accustom the dog to positive rewards when you are out of the room. When you have to go out of the house, you may use the toy with food or a treat.


If you only have one dog, borrowing a friends dog on a temporary basis. This will help keep the dog from becoming human dependent, as well as keep the dog occupied in your absence. Remember to block of rooms in your house. You want them to have enough room to play but not destroy your house in the process.

Tire your dog. Lengthen the amount of time you play before you leave the house. Go for a long walk, throw a ball, bring your dog to the dog park to play with others. When you get home, leave your dog on its own for a while before you leave. Your dog will be much more comfortable to go to sleep when your around. Once your dog is calm and relaxed, and hopefully sleeping. Step out, remembering to leave the toy on the kitchen table.


Fake it. If you are still having problems with anxiety issues. Fake it. Pretend to leave several times a day. To through all the motions, including putting on your shoes, coat, and grabbing your keys and walking out the door for a few minutes. After enough times, the dog will have a hard time figuring out when you are leaving for a long amount of time.



In Closing

Dogs are a great companion. They will love and adore you for life. Start young, stay strong willed, and respect your dog.

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