The Complete Guide To Curing Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Separation anxiety is a very common behavior problem that many dogs suffer from.
Signs that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety can come in many forms.
At the core a dog that has separation anxiety has a fear of you leaving and a fear of being apart from you.
When you are working with a dog that has separation anxiety, the main concept we want to teach the dog is that “humans leaving me alone is a good thing”.
Here are some of the ways that you can work with your dog to help them over come their separation anxiety.
The time that separation anxiety in dogs occurs is when we leave and often times when we are getting ready to leave.
One of the first thats that you must do is pay attention to your behavior when you come home and when you leave.
It is very important that when it is time for you to leave your dog alone, you don’t turn leaving into this huge spectacle with long good byes and baby talk.
When you are going to leave, don’t even say anything to your dog, just walk out the door.
Going over and petting your dog, saying good bye, and giving him lots of attention right before you leave just gets him worked up and triggers the separation anxiety to begin.
When you first come home, your dog will most likely be very excited to see you.
Instead of giving him attention right away, ignore him for a minute or two until he has calmed down, THEN give him attention, pet him, anything you would like.
By staying calm when we leave and come home, you dog will start to learn that you coming home and leaving is just a normal thing that happens and it’s nothing to get worked up about.
A lot of the time they start getting anxious just watching what we are doing because they have learned that certain behaviors we do means we are going to leave soon.
If we can try to show our dog that we aren’t always going to leave just because you see us doing something, it can really help to reduce the separation anxiety from starting.
Puzzle Toys And Bones Keep A Dog With Separation Anxiety Busy!
When we leave our dogs alone we want to help them to focus on something other than the fact that they are alone.
This is where puzzle toys and bones come in very handy.
Puzzle toys are any type of dog toy that you can stuff food into and the dog then has to work on getting the food out.
The food that you stuff in the puzzle toys should be something that is VERY high value – regular dog treats are not good enough.
Chicken, steak, cheese, hotdogs, or some other kind of high quality people food is what we should be putting inside of the puzzle toys, and this is the ONLY time that our dog gets these high quality treats.
When your dog starts to see that the only time he gets these high value treats is when you leave, he will actually start looking forward to you leaving because he know he will get something great!
Bones are another good thing to keep your dog busy, I particularly like marrow bones that I get from the butcher at my local supermarket.
If you are going to give your dog bones there are two major rules you need to follow.
Rule #1: The size of the bone needs to be large to make sure their is no risk for choking. Buy a size bigger than you think you need to be safe.
Rule #2: Bones MUST BE RAW! I can not stress this enough. Cooked bones are very dangerous because they can splinter and under no circumstances should you ever give your dog a cooked bone. If you want to give your dog a bone it HAS to be raw.
The scent of lavender is known to have a very calming and almost sedating affect as it acts on the central nervous system of our dogs.
One idea to help a dog with separation anxiety is to add the scent of lavender to the area where your dog will be.
While lavender plants are NOT toxic to dogs, it is best that you put it in a place that they won’t be able to eat it as it may give them an upset stomach.
Another thing to try is burning lavender incense before you go out, or try one of those wall plugins that is lavender scented.
Recent studies have shown that classical music can lead to more relaxed and restful behavior in dogs.
Leaving some classical music on for your dog to listen to while your gone can help them to relax and it also provides mental stimulation for them.
I mention this one last because this really should be your last resort.
If you have tried everything above but have not seen improvement in your dog, then it is time to talk to your veterinarian about perhaps prescribing an anti anxiety medication to help your dog.
One sign that you may need to go this route is if your dog is not eating the food in the puzzle toys when you leave.
A dog that won’t accept food is under a tremendous amount of stress, and that is the number one sign we may need medication.
Now keep in mind that medication does NOT solve your dogs separation anxiety problems.