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Dog Separation Anxiety: Symptoms & Treatments

When we adopt a puppy into our house, we anticipate certain behavioral concerns. The majority of puppies outgrow pillow-chewing, house soiling, and excessive barking.

They become a greater concern as they grow and remain indefinitely. The primary complaint of pet owners is that their adolescents and adults are destructive and disruptive when left alone.

You arrive home from a hard day of work to discover that your pet has been gnawing, digging, wailing, urinating, defecating, and attempting to escape all day. If these behaviors occur almost every time you leave the house, your pet may suffer from separation anxiety.

Often in dogs, separation anxiety indicates that the dog is extremely devoted to you or another family member.

They become agitated the instant they discover you are no longer at home or at their side, and their attempts to flee are often so strong that they damage themselves or ruin your property.

Although some dogs get more stressed in your absence, others become more despondent. Even after brief periods apart, they behave as though they haven't seen you in years.

With dogs with separation anxiety, it is essential to attempt to alleviate their fears and educate them to tolerate or even enjoy alone time.

Continue reading "Dog Separation Anxiety: Symptoms & Treatments" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org).

Top 6 Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Anxiety is a major problem that may cause your dog to engage in one or more of these destructive behaviors.

1. Utilizing the Residence as a Bathroom

Symptoms of separation anxiety include urinating and defecating in the house only if the activity happens when family members are absent.

Dogs that behave in this manner in your presence typically have other behavioral issues that need to be addressed, and being alone is probably not the cause.

2. Howling and Barking

When left alone, anxious dogs whine and bark nonstop, and their noise never seems to subside.

This results in loud complaints from neighbors and frequently becomes a problem for apartment complex landlords. Your dog will attempt to grab your attention by making noise when you leave them behind.

3. Damage due to Biting and Digging

Very agitated animals have been known to utterly wreck a home. They gnaw on places where they believe they may escape, such as doors and windows.

Door frames are gnawed into bits, and the carpet is shredded. This habit is detrimental to both your house and your dog. The ruin of your home is hazardous for your dogs and may result in broken teeth or mangled paws and claws.

4. Escaping the House

Your dog’s separation anxiety causes them to act impulsively, and the last thing they want is to be confined in a room. Anxious dogs are tenacious in attempting to flee by whatever way necessary, putting them in grave risk.

5. Pacing

When left alone, anxious canines cannot always sit quietly. They walk back and forth or in circles while awaiting the return of their masters. Pacing seldom occurs in front of family members, thus you may need to install a camera to validate this behavior.

6. Coprophagia

Coprophagia is the act of defecating and then ingesting all or a portion of the feces. This is a semi-normal canine activity, but it might make them briefly ill and leave you with a disgusting mess to clean up.

Why Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

There is little information as to why some dogs experience separation anxiety while others do not. Yet, this is far more prevalent among shelter-adopted dogs. Specialists feel that the death of a significant individual or an entire family might induce this habit, which is triggered anytime you leave the house.

There are more reasons that might contribute to your dog’s anxiousness. Major adjustments like a new schedule, dwelling, or family member are a lot to handle for your canine and might be the basis of the problem.

How to Cure Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Dogs with minimal separation anxiety frequently benefit from counterconditioning. Counterconditioning is a sort of therapy that reduces an animal’s scared response.

This is accomplished by relating their dislikes to something they enjoy. The dogs eventually realize that the item they dread is really beneficial to their health.

For example, encouraging your dog to connect being alone with food might be one technique to conduct counterconditioning. Every time you leave the house, give your dog a jigsaw toy in which you may conceal goodies.

It takes them 20 to 30 minutes to complete and keeps them occupied while you prepare to go. Remove the special toy as soon as you get home, so they know they only have access to it while you’re away.

In situations of moderate to severe anxiety, desensitization may require a more complicated approach. This is often accomplished by beginning with very brief separations from your dog and progressively extending them.

It might take a few tough weeks or even months of daily sessions in order for your dog to become less anxious in your absence.

These therapy options are difficult and time-consuming, but the most essential thing to remember is that you want to avoid dread at all costs.

After all, this is what precipitated the situation in the first place. You have to be in touch with your dog’s reactions and change accordingly. If your dog was performing well, but frightened as you increased the distance between you, reduce the time and go more slowly.

Should You Use Crates on Dogs with Separation Anxiety?

Many individuals believe that placing their dog in a crate during their absence will help calm their dog. Some dogs associate their crates with safety when left alone, while others grow even more worried as a result.

Observe your dog’s behavior during crate training if you are unsure about crate training. If they exhibit indications of discomfort in the crate while you’re home, it’s likely that they’ll be more distressed after you leave.

Heavy panting, efforts to escape, howling, and excessive salivation are indicators of discomfort in a dog during crate training. If crates cause excessive anxiety, consider placing them in a small room or installing a baby gate to limit them to a specific area.

Distracting the Dog

Physical and mental stimulation are essential for resolving the majority of canine behavioral issues. Keeping them preoccupied diverts their attention away from your absence. In addition to enriching your dog’s life, puzzles may help stop some of their other undesirable tendencies.

Give your dog at least 30 to 40 minutes each day of cardiovascular exercise. Try to schedule their workout immediately before you leave the house, so that they are more calm. There were also other participatory activities, such as fetch and tug-of-war.

Get your dog out of the home every so often. Taking them on walks outside helps them to take in unfamiliar sights and smells and keeps their minds active. If your dog is sociable with other animals, take him or her to a dog park and let him or her to play off-leash with some of his or her buddies.

Food puzzles and KONG toys are wonderful mental stimulation devices. Just insert a small amount of food, such as natural peanut butter or bits of kibble, and let your dog go to work. Also, they promote licking and chewing, which are comforting for your dog.

Medicating Your Pet

Medication Your pet may benefit from medication, especially in severe cases of separation anxiety. Some dogs get so distressed and overwhelmed by their owner’s absence that other treatments are ineffective. In milder situations, anti-anxiety medication is not always essential but can be of great use.

Only your veterinarian should be consulted before administering medicine to your dog. They will be able to provide a diagnosis and recommend the medication that has worked best for them.

Do you own a nervous dog? High-quality, pet-safe CBD oil might be of assistance. We enjoy CBDfx’s Pet Tincture, which is available in four different strengths and is composed of organic, human-grade hemp. Even better, your dog will like the flavor of genuine bacon!

What to Avoid While Handling Nervous Dogs

Remember that your canine companion is already anxious, and the last thing they need is a reprimand or punishment. Your dog exhibits these behaviors when left alone because they are unable to cope with the excessive level of stress they are experiencing. If you chastise them, they may become even more agitated, and the situation may worsen.

Final Thoughts

We all cherish our dogs and want them to feel at ease with or without us. Hopefully, “Dog Separation Anxiety: Symptoms & Treatments” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has helped you to understand that their behavioral disorders are likely the result of trauma, and that they are acting this way because they have no other coping mechanisms.

Your dog loves you and wants to spend the entire day by your side, so be patient with them and discuss with your veterinarian some tactics that might work for them.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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