Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation Anxiety in DogsSeparation anxiety is an issue that can easily go unnoticed or ignored, but is actually something that we should all be looking out for in Dogs. Because Dogs are pack animals, separation anxiety can affect their mental health quite dramtically. The condition happens when a Dog is left alone, and will typically pace around the house, barking, scratching, chewing and whining. The main issue here is that the Dog is highly stressed and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been gone for a few minutes of a few hours, the stress levels are the same.

Before we look at some of the solutions to separation anxiety, we need to understand some of the causes. The main cause goes back to the ‘pack animal problem’ and leadership. In a pack the leader is allowed to leave on his own if he wishes, however a follower will never leave the leader. If your Dog sees himself as a the pack leader, then you leaving the house can cause considerable mental strain. This is one reason for separation anxiety.

Another – slightly easier to address – cause of separation anxiety is a lack of exercise. If your Dog isn’t getting enough exercise, the small amount of stress it causes them when you leave the house is intensified by a build up of energy. This will result in your Dog getting worked up and acting in a negative way.

These are the two most common causes of separation anxiety, let’s take a look at a few solutions.

1. Give your Dog some space

If your Dog is always around you, sleeping on you and gazing at you, this can be a cause of too much dependence. Get a Dog bed and train them to use it. Feeding, petting, and treats should all be given there, to reinforce that position as your Dogs ‘own home’.

2. Obedience

If your Dog isn’t very obedient, he may not be seeing you as the leader of the pack, which can be a big problem. Take time to train your Dog and make sure they’re responding to commands like sit, lie down, come here etc. Treats, playing, walks and attention should only be in response to good behavior.

3. Exercise

It goes without saying that exercise is extremely important for all aspects of your Dogs life. If you think your Dog has separation anxiety, you need to step it up a gear. Your Dog needs to be calm and relaxed after the exercise session for you to know it’s been enough.

Finally, make sure you’re acting calmly around your Dog, don’t come home extremely excited as this will increase the anxiety. Also, keep the same routine seven days a week. If you spend all day with your Dog at the weekend, the separation anxiety is going to be even worse on Monday. Routine and structure are important to all Dogs lives.

Have you ever had to deal with Separation Anxiety? Have you heard of any other solutions to this problem? Let us know in the comments!

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9 Responses to “Separation Anxiety in Dogs”

  1. Sari Reis says:

    Not only are there typos in this blog but I totally disagree with the “pack mentality”. Yes separation anxiety can be a serious issue but not due to the “pack – leader” point – of -view.

  2. Pamela's Paws and Pads says:

    Hi I am dealing with the anxiety now of a rescue dog that was with an older person for years, the person was sick and died and left the dog alone before anyone found him. So his issues are please do not leave me and not come back, I do not want to be alone. He goes with his owners in their car daily and he waits in the car for them and understands they will be back and likes to be with them. They leave him with their housekeeper once a week while their house is being cleaned and he likes that. So they have found options to help the dog thru the anxiety, we hope down the road he will be ok and adjust. Patience, Love, Consistency , Security with all animals is what helps them be happy better pets. Pamela’s Paws and Pads/Pamela

  3. Verity Escot says:

    Hi,
    My 2 year old Cocker X Poodle follows me every where (literally). He does panic at the sign of me leaving the house. However, if I am going out I ALWAYS make sure that he has a good walk then when I leave he will settle and sleep because. Never had any issues with chewing, howling etc. To me its common sense…. If your dog is exercised daily, he/she will be well behaved, healthy, content and happy.

  4. Thundershirt says:

    Separation anxiety in dogs is something that has become a big issue for dogs and their owners. This can cause a lot of stress and can be very painful for dogs. We have had a lot of great discussions about dog anxiety on our Facebook page and have received a lot of great tips. We would like to invite you to check out some of the advice on our page or feel free to join in the conversation on our page. Happy reading:) http://www.facebook.com/thundershirt

  5. Steffi says:

    Hi there,
    I am the owner of a pet sitting service and we offer dog boarding in a home environment.That means that the boarding dogs can roam free in the house when we are present,can play in our backyard supervised and sit on the couch with us in the evenings.When bed time comes ,they have to go in their kennel in order to guarantee their and other pets’ safty.Every once in a while we board a dog with extreme separation anxiety.This is extremly difficult for us.Even though we spend a lot of time with our guest dogs,we can not be with them 24/7.Unfortunally we had to sleep with some dogs on the couch before because they couldn’t calm down.In my opinion those dogs have never learned that it is ok to be alone.Often affected dogs have owners who work from home or can take their dog to the office.It is terrible to see how stressed out those poor dogs are when they have to be boarded.And you can not always avoid that.My advice,please get your dog used to being away from you at an early age.Bring him to doggie day cae once a week or leave him at a friend’s house.If your dog already shows signs of separation anxiety,get professional help!Her ein Colorado Springs I know a fantastic dog trainer.To adjust your lifestyle to your dogs behavior issues is not the answer.Can you promise that you will be around every day of your dog’s life?
    Steffi

  6. i encountered my first experience with separation anxiety with a 5-6 year old shar-pei that i rescued from my local shelter years ago and then again with a new puppy shar-pei and i have to tell you it is not fun! however, i did employ a good trainer that taught me some great tricks of the trade so to speak that worked. it requires patience and time and effort but can pay off… it’s is a little too detailed to go into here – but if anyone one wants to know what worked for me – please feel free to contact me thru my dogOdog website – just go to the Contact page and drop me a note with a email address or phone number and i will be very happy to pass along what i learned and very happy to help!
    Feel Good About the Well-Being of your Dog and Planet… peace, love and dogOdog- betsy
    http://www.dogOdogOrganics.com

  7. How do we know if the dog sees himself as the leader?
    We have this problem with our dog – our neighbors complain that he makes noise (barks in a very high note voice – squeaky and howls sometimes) and all this takes about 15-20 minutes after we leave for work. When we get home we find him quiet and sleepy.

    He gets exercise and has his own space, is not always all over us so I assume that considering himself the leader may be the problem here. What do you think and how can we identify if he considers himself as leader?

    Thanks,
    Geo

  8. Susan says:

    I disagree with many of the points you make. Separation anxiety can be caused by many different issues. I disagree that it has anything to do with the fact that dogs are pack animals.

    It is very important to gain the dog/dogs respect as pack leader. If you do not have that respect you have little chance of the dog doing, willingly, what you require of it. If a dog is made to do things in the wrong way one day he will retaliate.

    Giving a dog a treat for doing what he is asked is not a good idea. What happens the day he decides he doesn’t want a treat, ignores you and runs across a road to, for instance, the cat on the other side of the road. If you have gained the dogs respect using, lots of praise and affection he will do as you ask because he wants to please you not because he is going to get a treat. Would you give a child a sweetie every time it does something you ask it. Treats should be given as treat not as rewards. Making him/her go to her bed before being given a treat equally is unfair. Dominating any animal is not the way to gain its respect.

    Many trainer say, when you get home ignore your dog, take off your coat, put your shopping away and when you have done that speak to your dog. Would you do that to your child when it comes running up to great you, I doubt it, so don’t do it to your dog. He/she is so happy to see you, go down to his height, give him/her a cuddle then put your shopping away.

    In the case of separation anxiety, this can take many months to overcome, sometime it is never completely overcome. Every dog is very different and different approaches have to be taken into consideration. Being hard on your dog is never going to achieve it. The dog needs reassurance, and understanding and has to be encouraged just a step at a time in order to overcome this.

    Dominating an animal is most definitely not the way to gain its respect.

    Taking a dog for a walk, or running in a field is never enough. Dogs are intelligent animals and they need their brains to be kept active. They need to have things to do to stimulate them and give them interests. They need to work, I don’t mean as in rounding up sheep but things that make them think ie. agility, interactive games, and so on. This all helps to develop and strengthen the bond between the dog and the pack leader.

    We have been dealing with dogs with problems for over 25 years both in training classes, and on a 1:1 basis which ever is most appropriate. One of the biggest problems is communication between an owner and dog, neither understands the other. When trying to solve a dog psychological problem we have to think as a dog would think, not as a human thinks and in this way may of the problems whether it be separation anxiety or others can be overcome.

  9. I work not only as a pet sitter and Dog Walker but also an Animal Healer which I have been for about 5 years now. I use Reiki.

    Reiki is wonderful healing tool for every living thing and most types of animals respond to it very well, Our pets’ bodies, as well as our own bodies, have vital energy centers called “chakras, meridians and the bio-field”. The mental state, physical body and emotional existence determine the health and balance of these systems it can be valuable if your pet is recovering from any surgery, recent or past trauma; it is non-invasive technique and is excellent if your pet is experiencing signs of stress & anxiety.

    Reiki can help by “dissolving” energetic blocks contributing to these negative states and helps to return the animal to a natural balanced state.

    Regardless of age, sex or breed of the animal, Reiki will support your animal on any emotional/spiritual and/or physical level, helping your beloved companion to feel more at peace.

    However, Reiki Healing does have its limitations and does not provide miracles, particularly where terminal illnesses are concerned or when organs fail.

    Reiki is complimentary though if your pet is on any medication.

    Benefits include

    Help ease behavioural concerns.
    Release physical and emotional trauma, grief, guilt or fear.
    Ease their transition from this life into spirit and other end of life issues.
    Ease any stress & anxiety i.e. Fireworks, separation issues.
    Hear what’s important in their life
    Deeper understanding and better appreciation between owner and animal to help build a loving trusted relationship again.

    To find out more go to http://www.animalhealer@wordpress.com. Enjoy and its worth coming from a different angle.

    Jude

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