Separation Anxiety

How to help your dog cope – This is a very common behavioral issue that many dogs deal with. Isolation distress is another term for it. Our lives have changed dramatically over the past 20 + years. As a result so have our dogs. When you take an extremely social animal and force it to stay alone for hours a day, many unnecessary behaviors develop – and separation anxiety is one of them. It is best described as stress, anxiety and panic when one is left alone from the individual that they are bonded to the most. Separation Anxiety varies as do its symptoms. Barking, panting, crying, pacing, chewing, soiling and in extreme cases jumping though windows occur. This handout is for preventing isolation issues and/or for very mild cases of separation anxiety. Anything more than that please inquire with us to schedule a behavior consult.

Who has it?

Puppy mill dogs, abused or neglected dogs. Dogs that have a fear–based disposition.

Recommended Approach

Provide your dog with plenty of age appropriate and suitable exercise.

Many dogs benefit from being crated. It reduces their anxiety. Do not use if they have crate anxiety. Sometimes a blanket over part of the crate can alleviate some nervousness, too.

Make your arrivals & departures short and sweet. The longer they are the more difficult it will be for your dog to deal with your absence once you closes that door behind you. So, 10 minutes before you leave, try to pay less attention to your lovely dog. Repeat the same upon your return. This is usually more of a challenge because you both miss each other.

Practice what are called “set-ups”. Because dogs are masters of reading body language, be aware of all the little things you do prior to departing. Perhaps it’s your hair, cologne, keys, bag and shoes. Separate these into individual tasks. For instance, pick up your key and put them down but do not do go anywhere. Pay no mind to your dog. By doing these set ups you are desensitizing your dog to triggers that indicate you are leaving which instill anxiety. Condition your dog to these triggers and he/she will learn that they don’t always predict a departure. Similarly, you should reassure your dog that you will return. One way that this is accomplished is by teaching your dog gradually that when you head for the door, to stay calm and that you will return. First provide your dog with a super duper mentally stimulating toy (see below) and then move towards the door. Open it, walk through and immediately return. With each day, add a few seconds. Develop a watchful eye and scan your dog to see if they appear stressed or relaxed. Keep the previous suggestions in mind during this process as well.

Suggested Toys & natural remedies

KONGS/ KONGS/ KONGS! Stuff them and freeze them! Activity balls & Nina Ottosson games.

D.A. P – and plug in that mimics a mother dog’s pheromones which soothes dogs. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, TranquilityBlend, etc. are a good added natural aids.