Is your dog chewing aggressively when left alone? Does the doggo bark and bay to no end when you’re at work? Your pooch may be suffering from separation anxiety. Some breeds like Golden Retrievers, Pit Bulls, Border Collies, and Bichon Frises are prone to this problem. If you have a nervous dog, you should know how to treat a dog with severe separation anxiety. It will save you, your pet, and your neighbors from the hassle.
Separation anxiety in dogs
Separation anxiety among dogs is a behavioral problem fueled by various external factors. Since it’s external, it means that you have the power to control it. However, we recognize that some breeds aren’t really made to be left alone for long hours.
Dogs with separation anxiety will exhibit a variety of symptoms. The following are the most commonly observed signs:
- Barking, baying or howling when alone
- Drooling and panting when the owner leaves
- Pacing and destructive patterns
- Destroying things to escape
- Aggressive and destructive chewing
- Accidents even if fully housebroken
A lot of things can cause separation anxiety among dogs. Aside from breed predisposition, a change of ownership can also be the cause of the problem. Also, if you get your dog used to your presence, it will start to develop separation anxiety if you have to leave home for long. This is evident among pet owners who used to work from home then have to switch to an office setup.
Moreover, the loss of a family member can trigger a dog’s separation anxiety, especially if the pooch is close to the person.
Also, your dog may have separation anxiety if you made a massive change in your routines or if you recently moved to a new home.
If you have brought home a shelter or rescue dog, it’s quite normal for them to experience separation anxiety.
How to treat a dog with severe separation anxiety
If your dog has separation anxiety, you can consider the following tips to ease their suffering:
1. Don’t make a fuss about leaving
The problem with many dog owners is they make such a big deal about going to work. If you are to leave, don’t make a big fuss about it. Just step out of the door. Stop giving your dog goodbye kisses and hugs. When you do this, your dog will think that whining and pacing is a rewarded behavior.
Going out quietly is better because your dog will not notice that you’re gone. And if the pooch is busy with toys, you can avoid their noisy and destructive tendencies.
2. Exercise your dog before you go
One trick that you can do is to take your dog for a long walk before you go to work. This way, you can drain the extra energy. The moment you walk out of the door, the doggo will be sound asleep. It will also calm the dog.
The dog will no longer have the energy for destructive habits. Make sure that you leave a bowl of water and some food for your dog after this.
3. Give your dog a personal space
A personal and comfortable space will make your dog ‘at home’. This will make the pooch feel safe while you’re away. We also recommend placing one of your shirts on their bed so the dog will still feel your presence.
We recommend choosing a secluded spot in your house and place some cozy blankets on it. Also, place some of your dog’s favorite toys. This way, the doggo will gravitate toward this spot instead of following you to the door.
4. Crate training is the key
Crate training is an effective solution against separation anxiety. Train your dog to enter the crate on its own. This way, you can tuck the pooch away while you leave the house. Also, the small space of the crate will keep them calm. This is in line with the dog’s natural instinct in the wild.
However, you’re not supposed to leave your dog crated for very long hours. You shouldn’t crate your dog for longer than nine hours.
5. Consider calming medications
One of the ways on how to treat a dog with severe separation anxiety is administering calming medications to your pooch. You can ask your dog’s vet for possible options that you can use to your dog. Avoid giving your dog any relaxing medication unless approved by the vet.
You can also diffuse some lavender oil to calm your dog. This may or may not work, depending on the intensity of your dog’s separation anxiety.
6. Consider a companion dog
If all else fails, it might be time to consider a companion dog. Just make sure that the new dog’s personality, size, and temperament are suitable for your first dog.
Also, you have to guarantee that you can care for another canine at home. Most of all, the second dog shouldn’t be prone to separation anxiety, or you’ll just deal with a double dose of the same problem.
Do your research about dog breeds first before bringing home a new pooch.
7. Counterconditioning will help
Counterconditioning is a great way to change your dog’s response to being alone. You can get a treat-dispenser, which you’ll only use once you’re away. This way, your dog will think that your departure is a positive thing.
Also, you should get your dog used to being alone gradually. Start by leaving the dog alone for several minutes until it can tolerate long hours. Positive reinforcement will go a long way here.
Knowing how to treat a dog with severe separation anxiety is crucial to raise a well-rounded canine. As much as some dogs are prone to this problem, you can do something to beat their anxiety. Patience and the right methods will help you deal with this problem. Does your dog have separation anxiety? How are you dealing with it? Share your tips with us in the comment section!