Separation 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’.
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.
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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