Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety in Duluth, GA?

Here’s How You Can Help

 

Dogs grow very attached to their owners, and some can get very distressed when their owners leave, especially when it’s for an extended period of time. If your dog is exhibiting troubling behavior when left alone, separation anxiety could be the cause.

First, you need to determine if separation anxiety is the cause of your dog’s behavior. Then, you can take steps to ease your dog’s anxiety to help them deal with your absence in a better way.

Dog Separation Anxiety

 

What does separation anxiety look like?

These are the most common behaviors that dogs exhibit when they are struggling with separation anxiety:

  • Excessive barking, whining, and howling
  • Urination or defecation indoors
  • Anxious pacing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Chewing, digging, or destroying
  • Attempting to escape its environment

To determine if separation anxiety is the cause, check to see if your dog engages in any of these behaviors and when they engage in these behaviors. If your dog does these things all the time, whether you are home or not, it is likely not separation anxiety. In this case, it is more likely that the dog needs better training or that there may be an underlying medical issue.

If your dog is displaying these behaviors specifically when you are gone, and if the behaviors worsen when you are gone for longer or gone more often, then your dog is most likely suffering from separation anxiety.

Dog separation anxiety

What are the causes of separation anxiety?

If your dog does struggle with separation anxiety, it will grow fearful and distressed when you are not around. These difficult emotions cause the dog to act out and engage in the aforementioned “bad behaviors.” Keep in mind that your dog isn’t doing these things out of spite or revenge. Your dog is simply afraid and distressed.

Dogs who have lost a family or family member are more likely to experience separation anxiety. This is because of the trauma the dog experienced from losing one of their beloved humans. Other changes can induce separation anxiety in dogs, too. Such changes include a change in routine, a change in living circumstances, or a change in the number of residents who live in a household. Your dog cannot understand why these changes happen or what they mean, and this can trigger a stress response.

Puppies are unique and may experience a different type of separation anxiety. Puppies are more likely to be anxious and lonely due to being separated from their mothers and littermates. Typically, this type of separation anxiety resolves over time as the puppy grows attached to you and feels increasingly comfortable in their new home with you.

Some dogs are simply more prone to anxiety. This could be because of their past experiences, or it could be due to their genetics and general circumstances.

Dog Separation Anxiety Duluth GA

 

How can you solve separation anxiety in your dog?

 

Avoid Punishment

Most importantly, do not punish your dog for having separation anxiety. The behaviors occur when you are not home, but the punishment would occur when you are. This disconnect will prevent your dog from connecting the punishment with the behavior, and it will create even more anxiety in your dog. Punishment will make the issue worse, not better.

Provide Exercise and Enrichment

A strategy that you can use right away is to take your dog on a 20–30-minute walk before you plan to leave the house. Exercise will naturally boost your dog’s feel-good hormones, and it will leave them feeling more tired and relaxed.

You can also leave your dog with some stimulating activities to do while you are gone. Examples include leaving a toy stuffed with peanut butter or some other dog-friendly treat, hiding treats around the house, or purchasing a puzzle toy and filling it with treats. Your dog will put energy into these activities, which will decrease boredom and anxiety.

Ease into it

If you can, ease into your absences by practicing short periods of absence with your dog. For example, for 1 week, leave the home for an hour or two a day. In the following week, leave the home for 3-4 hours per day. Build up to the length of time that you want your dog to grow accustomed to. By easing into it, you can teach your dog to feel increasingly comfortable at home without you.

Provide environmental comforts

You can leave a television or radio on with a quiet volume to simulate the sounds of an occupied home. You can also leave a few recently worn clothing items in places where your dog likes to sleep. By doing this, you are giving your dog access to your scent even when you are not home. Another option is to install an interactive pet camera. Some allow you to talk to your pet and even feed them treats.

Other pets in the home may also help to decrease anxiety in your dog. If you already have another pet, check to see if your dog goes to the other pet for reassurance or companionship. If they do, try to increase their proximity in the home while you are gone. This can be done by closing off certain rooms and limiting the accessible space. If you don’t have another pet, talk with your veterinarian to discuss whether a pet companion might be an option for decreasing the anxiety of your dog.

Veterinary Consult and Medication

Sometimes, separation anxiety can be quite severe. If your dog’s anxiety-induced behaviors are extreme and not showing any signs of improvement, it is time to involve your veterinarian and inquire about medication.

Your vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medication for your dog that will aid in decreasing the destructive behaviors associated with separation anxiety. Even if you decide to medicate your dog, you should also continue to provide ample exercise and enrichment to chip away at the underlying anxiety. Medication can address the issue, but it operates more like a Band-Aid than a cure.