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Separation Anxiety In Dogs

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How To Stop Separation Anxiety In Your Dog

Chewing, Scratching, Barking - Signs of Separation Anxiety

Is your dog a nervous wreck when you head out the door? Does he chew, scratch, and bark at the door? Dogs living with humans often develop behavior issues as a result of too much affection and not enough discipline. This creates a confusing life for the dog that is, after all, still a dog.

When we add in a person's mixed feelings on leaving a dog (the sad goodbyes, the guilty goodbyes), the mix of a spoiled dog and negative energy can produce unwanted results.

Why Do Dogs Have Separation Anxiety?

There is a difference between "sad" dogs and dogs suffering from separation anxiety. A sad dog is one who looks like he would prefer if you would stay at home (though he may well be waiting for you to leave so he can take a quiet nap). A sad dog bears a striking resemblance to your dog at dinner time when he wants some of your food; those sad, starving eyes that make you feel so bad. As with begging, longing glances in the morning when you leave are a sign of something he prefers (for you to stay around) but not something he needs to avoid a nervous breakdown.

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety struggle when their owner leaves. A dog is more likely to show signs of separation anxiety when he is given random - and continuous - affection when you are around. When you leave your attention and comforting presence goes from fully there to completely missing. Having had little experience with calming down when you are around, your dog is clueless as to how to conduct himself on his own. This produces the following symptoms:

  • Stays close to you when you return, following you around the house
  • Goes crazy in the first 20 minutes or so after you've left
  • Chews on items that have your scent
  • Continuous barking after you leave
  • Pees or poops inappropriately (after being housetrained)
  • Exuberant greeting when you return

When grouped together, you have an issue with your dog's difficulty staying on his own.

Tips To Stop Separation Anxiety

  • Provide toys to keep the dog busy
  • Hide toys stuffed with food throughout the house so your dog can hunt for them (not advised with multiple dog households)
  • Crate training
  • Morning exercise to burn energy and relax him before you leave
  • Practice short trips where you leave and return within 20-30 minutes so that your dog learns it's not the end of the world for you to leave
  • Medication (worst case scenerio, consult with a professional trainer or your vet)
  • Structure your time at home so that your dog is away from you (in another room or in his crate) and has to hang out on his own. Begin with small time increments and gradually increase them.

A dog struggling with separation anxiety issues desperately needs an opportunity to get more exercise and certainly needs increased discipline (rules and boundaries) in the household.

Dogs That Experience Separation Anxiety Are Also Likely To...

 

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