Posts Tagged ‘separation anxiety’

5 Tips for Conquering Separation Anxiety

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Cayenne.M. anxiety can be a genuine concern for dog owners, but it’s probably not as prevalent as you might think.

Many actions that get lumped in with separation anxiety are actually boredom and bad behavior.

True separation anxiety is different than just being bad and will occasionally be seen in other behaviors:

  • Dogs will often demonstrate anxiety by jumping up whenever they think you’re leaving or following you from room to room.
  • They’ll often start pacing, barking, or whining the moment they think you’ve left, even if you’ve only gone into another room or outside for a few moments.

Boredom and naughtiness can include many of the same behaviors that an anxiety-ridden pooch might display like chewing, scratching, barking, or howling. But in the bored dog, it happens after they’ve been alone for a while. Dog’s with separation anxiety will start losing it almost immediately when they think you’ve gone.

If you think your dog might be suffering from some separation anxiety issues, talk to your vet and maybe a behaviorist. If the situation is really bad there are medications that some have found really helpful. But medicating away difficult behavior should always be a last resort.

Here are a couple tips that will frequently help deal with your anxious pup.

1. Lower the drama of leaving and returning

Don’t make a big thing out of going away or coming home. Your dog needs to get to the place where they see periods of separation as a normal part of every day life.

When you have to leave, simply leave. When you get home, don’t make big, dramatic entrance with lots of loud, animated discussion aimed at your dog. This only makes your dog think that you’ve been as anxious as they’ve been.

2. Change your leaving rituals

Part of lowering the drama is eliminating some of the regular behaviors your dog associates with you leaving. Look at the things you do and see if you can change them to cut down on your dog’s anxiety.

Do they associate grabbing your keys with getting ready to go? Try keeping your keys somewhere else where it’s not so obvious, or occasionally grab your keys when you’re not leaving.

Do you run the blow dryer as part of your morning ritual? Does you pup see the blow dryer as the first ritual that tells them you’re leaving? Try occasionally running it throughout the day until they associate it less with preparation for being alone.

If you can, occasionally leave through different doors.

These aren’t behaviors you need to take part in all the time, but long enough that they quit seeing them as signals that they’re about to be abandoned.

3. Leave distractions for your dog

A Kong full of Kong Stuff’N Puppy Paste is a wonderful distraction for a dog and can keep them busy for quite a while. You can also train your pup to look for treats you’ve hidden while you’re away.

We had some friends who would hide treats in safe places for their dog with separation anxiety to find when they were away. It was fun to eventually see Charlie get excited when they were leaving because it meant the game was afoot!

4. Tire them out

There is so much pent-up energy that is released when your dog is anxious. Planning walks or play time before you have to leave is a helpful way to redirect some of that energy.

Get up a half hour earlier and take your dog on a walk/run. You’ll both benefit!

5. Have a crate available

While we might think of a crate as a terrible enclosed space, we need to think about things from a pooch’s perspective. Dogs have a natural instinct to be in a den and can find a crate to be a comforting place. In fact, many dogs will be much more secure in a crate than they will in a wide open house while you’re away.

Getting your dog comfortable with a crate when they’re young can help a lot when they’re older. Once they’ve discovered that secure place that’s all theirs, all you need to do is leave the crate open in the the room when you leave. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Remember, punishment for anxious behavior is only going to exacerbate the problem. One of the best things you can do (and this is in any situation with your dog) is demonstrate cool, strong, and assertive leadership.

They’re looking to you as their pack leader and the energy you give them is going to return to you in their behavior.

And once again, if all else fails, make sure to talk to your vet or a behaviorist. They’re going to be able to give you some helpful advice tailor-made for your beloved pet!

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How to Ease Separation Anxiety in Dogs- Modern Dog Magazine

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Dogs are very loyal in nature and get attached to their owners, sometimes a bit too attached and have problems with separation anxiety. We found this very informative article in Modern Dog Magazine that goes over how to help your dog deal with separation anxiety. Happy Woof Wednesday!

  • Give your dog a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour of aerobic exercise each day.
  • Work on basic obedience commands (come, sit, sit-stay, down, down-stay) for 15 or 20 minutes each day. Use rewards for compliance (praise, a quick pat on the chest, a food treat) rather than reprimands or punishment for lack of compliance. If you need help getting consistent obedience from your dog, work with a professional trainer.
  • Wean your “Velcro dog” from being attached to you at all times when you’re home. Use a baby gate to barricade her in a separate room for part of the time when you’re home.
  • Provide her with a delicious distraction, such as a Kong toy stuffed with a food treat (peanut butter is a popular Kong stuffer) while she’s by herself. You can also use a “down-stay” or “get in your bed” command to put some distance between you.
  • Ignore her for 20 minutes before you leave and 20 minutes after you return. Effusive goodbyes and hellos make a dog with separation anxiety feel worse.
  • When you leave her alone, don’t give her the run of the house or apartment. Instead, use a baby gate to confine her to one room, such as the bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen—wherever she’s least likely to do damage or disturb the neighbors. Leave a radio or TV on very low to provide distracting background noise.
  • Do not leave a dog with separation anxiety in a closed crate. Many dogs with separation anxiety have panic attacks when crated and will injure their mouths or front feet trying to bite or claw their way out of the crate.
  • Don’t use an anti-bark collar. It’s unlikely to work on a dog with separation anxiety.
  • Start a program of desensitization or “flooding.” Flooding for separation anxiety would involve setting aside several hours on a weekend during which you enter and leave your apartment so often that you essentially wear the dog out. Leave the apartment every few minutes, on a varying schedule, for a minute or two at a time then come back. Be sure not to return while your dog is barking or howling, or else you will be rewarding her for that behaviour. If it’s impossible to walk out the door without having your dog bark, you might have a friend remain in the apartment while you go in and out. Desensitization for a dog with separation anxiety involves giving her your customary cues that you’re leaving—such as picking up your car keys or briefcase, opening the coat closet, putting on your “work shoes,” and so on—without actually leaving.
  • A DAP diffuser or collar may help calm an anxious dog.
  • An antidepressant may be helpful for a dog with separation anxiety. Clomicalm (clomipramine) is widely used for that purpose. In severe cases and for occasional use, an anti-anxiety medication can also be given one hour before your departure. No drug can extinguish separation anxiety on its own, however. Desensitization is essential.

Excerpted from Hound Health Handbook © 2004, 2009 by Urbanhound, LLC Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York All Rights Reserved Available wherever books are sold.


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