Separation anxiety is the dread or fear that your dog experiences when someone that they are attached to leaves them. So a typical instance of this might be when you go to work in the morning, the dog might get tense or anxious. Typically this anxiety produces negative behavior in the animal. It may howl or bark, urinate or defecate in the house, start to chew things or bite itself. Obviously this is not good for the dogs state of mind or your home. So what can be done about separation anxiety in dogs ?
Separation anxiety prevention should begin at birth. A puppy that is not allowed to wean off it’s mother could display separation anxiety in later life. It should be weaned off and relatively independent by around the eight week period so don’t get a puppy that is younger than this.
Separation anxiety training can begin as soon as the puppy enters your home (it’s new home). It is hard to resist a new puppy but you should not make a big fuss of it too much. This is especially the case when you are leaving it at night time. Place it in the sleeping basket and walk away. This will get it used to you leaving and being alone for extended periods.
Try to communicate the fact that you will not always be there and your dog should not suffer form separation anxiety when it gets older.
It might not be as straightforward to train a grown dog to not suffer from separation anxiety. Often grown dogs may have come from a shelter, the pound or have been given to you by the previous owner.
If it has come from the pound or shelter then it may have been neglected in the past. Dog’s a sensitive to abandonment and have a rational fear of being separated from the owner. It may have received little affection whilst in the pound too, which will only heighten it’s anxiety.
If a dog has been given away by a previous owner there is generally a good reason for this. The dog may have behavioral problems but it may also be that the family has had it own share of problems. The couple may be going through a divorce or maybe they are having financial difficulties. All these problems will filter through to the dog and could manifest as separation anxiety.
The way to train a grown dog for separation anxiety is to take the softly softly approach. Practice leaving your pet. Start off with just a short separation, say a minute or so. Close the door to indicate that you have left. Wait a minute and then come back in. Don’t make a fuss of the dog when you leave or come back.
Do this repeatedly, gradually increasing the length of time that you are away from the dog. If you notice that the dog is beginning to get anxious then go back to a separation time period when it was content. Continue this process until the dog is not displaying any signs of anxiety.
To break up this process you could also try taking the dog’s mind off the fact that you have left. So you could give it a tasty treat or a meaty bone. This should keep it interested for a while by which time you may have returned. Although this will not solve the problem, it may break up the training for you.
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