How to Calm Your Dog's Separation Anxiety
There is something that all dogs have in common: they don’t want us to leave the house. Some dogs handle it better than others, but generally, they all suffer a little one way or another. Some suffer from something called separation anxiety. It can make your dog behave unusually and get destructive or aggressive.
Let’s dive into the topic and find out what separation anxiety is and how it affects your dog. We’ll also look at how to address it.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is when a dog feels uneasy and nervous when they’re left alone in the house. It can make your dog destructive or aggressive and change their personality. The most common symptoms are:
- Barking, howling, or whining when left alone. Of course, before assuming it’s separation anxiety, make sure there’s nothing else making them bark and whine.
- Destroying things when left alone. Some dogs are naturally more destructive and of course, puppies chew things. But when it seems compulsive it could be a sign of anxiety.
- Extreme excitement when you get home. It’s normal for your dog to be happy when they see you come home. But jumping excessively, urinating on the floor, biting, howling, and other exaggerated behavior could be caused by separation anxiety.
- Destroying windows or doors. When a dog suffers from separation anxiety, they might claw at doors or windows in an attempt to find a way out. They probably want to try to find you, or maybe they just want to get out because of the anxiety.
- Aggression when you’re leaving. If your dog doesn’t want to be left alone, they might try to stop you leaving by biting or growling.
How to calm separation anxiety
Once you’ve decided that your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you need to find out how to help. Here are the 5 most important things according to professional dog trainers:
Take your dog for a walk
If you take your dog out for a walk before you leave, it will help calm him down. Why? First of all, your dog will be happy to have spent some time with you.
Secondly, he’ll get tired out. You can even try using a weighted backpack for dogs to tire him out more. When you get home you can give him food and water, and he’ll probably want to sleep. This way he’ll be much calmer when you have to leave.
Don’t fuss over them when you leave
If you pet them a lot or give them cuddles before you leave you’re probably going to make it worse. Just say a quick “goodbye” and don’t make a big fuss about something that actually isn’t that important. Your dog will soon understand that it’s perfectly normal and that it’s nothing to worry about.
Long before you go, talk with your dog and tell them you’ll miss them and that you love them. Your dog won’t be any less sad, but it can make you feel better.
Don’t show yourself to be weak
If you look indecisive, sad, or weak because of your dog’s anxiety, they will pick up on it and assume a dominant role. Remember, they need a leader, and if they don’t see it in you, they’ll nominate themselves.
Teach them gradually
Don’t leave your dog alone from the very first day, especially as a puppy. You can teach them gradually. First 5 minutes, then 20, then an hour and so on, until you’re able to leave them for 8 hours without any problems.