Separation anxiety (SA) may be affecting your pups. SA is a serious condition in both puppies and adult dogs. SA can cause your pup to be under an extreme amount of stress from the time you leave him or her until the time you return. Noticing the signs of separation anxiety can help you to prevent and relieve any additional stress your pup may be feeling, which can help your pup to feel protected and loved!
Signs and Symptoms
Separation anxiety is different than your dog occasionally whimpering when you leave them behind. If your dog presents multiple symptoms on a regular basis, he or she may be experiencing SA.
Signs of separation anxiety include:
- Anxious behaviors — pacing, whining, or shaking when you are preparing to leave or when you are gone
- Excessive barking
- Destructive acts — particularly around doors
- Having accidents in the house
- Excessive salivation
- Desperate and prolonged attempts of escaping
What causes these symptoms?
According to the American Kennel Club, it is unclear why some dogs are more prone to having anxiety than others. Some veterinarians suggest that if the dog experienced a traumatic event in the past, such as being left alone for long periods of time, or being abandoned in a shelter, he or she may be more likely to develop separation anxiety.
Other theories involve sudden life changes for the dog such as a move into a new home or a sudden absence of a family member for prolonged periods of time. There are many potential triggers for SA, so it is important to start treatment and prevention early.
What Can You Do To Help?
According to the American Kennel Club, there are several ways to help your pup overcome their anxiety. Here are some methods:
The trick with crates is to help your pup to associate them with wonderful things, such as toys or treats. Your pup will hopefully be able to view the crate as a safe space. Some dogs feel safe in their crates when left alone, however some dogs may panic. Watch your pup’s behavior. Remember, do not keep your dog in a crate all day–it is just a tool to use to keep him or her safe and calm when you are not there.
Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning
If you can teach your pup that separation has its rewards, it can help him or her feel more comfortable. According to the American Kennel Club, if you start by leaving your pup for very short periods of time and gradually lengthen your time gone while providing him or her with a high value treat before you leave, it will help the pup associate separation with a great reward! If he or she receives a special treat before you leave, they may begin to look forward to you leaving.
If your pup gets plenty of physical exercise, it is more likely they will settle down when you leave. This is especially true for high energy dogs. Training sessions and cognitive games are all good choices; it doesn’t always have to be physical exercise.
Don’t encourage clingy behavior for your pup. Teaching a dog to stay is a way to avoid clingy behaviors. Begin with short periods of time and once your pup can stay for several minutes, try to leave him or her in the room alone. Some industry experts recommend giving dogs a calming treat before leaving home. However, always keep calm when you return home. If you get too emotional, your pup may come to think of your coming and going as traumatic events.
Sometimes training may not be enough for your pup. Some veterinarians recommend medications that can help treat depression, anxiety and panic disorders in dogs. These require a prescription so you will need to consult your vet. Another option is supplements, such as natural CBD treats. These CBD treats are gaining more media coverage every day. These dog treats have been proven to significantly decrease the symptoms of SA in dogs.
As with most topics, if you think your dog has SA consult with your vet. It is very important to take steps to help alleviate your dog’s suffering as soon as you notice the signs. Creating a routine and sticking to it will help your pup to overcome their anxieties. Always approach your strategies with patience, as changes won’t happen overnight. As long as you have a positive attitude, you may be able to reduces your pup’s suffering and anxiety.