What are the Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

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The Causes of Separation Anxiety and How to Handle It with Your Dog

Understand more about your Dog’s Separation Anxiety and What You Can Do To Manage It.

The most common complaint owners have is that their pet makes a mess when left alone, but thankfully there are ways to train them to prevent these behaviours. A better way involves training them with positive reinforcement instead of punishment. Some dog behaviours could indicate that your pet is in distress. There are many ways to ease anxiety in your dog.

It’s not a good idea to assume your dog is house-trained. There are always many reasons why your dog might have issues with house training, and it’s essential to know the difference between these two so you can better manage your pet’s behaviour. Dogs who refuse to leave a person’s side can signify separation anxiety. If a dog is constantly trying to stay by your side, it could be because they feel left out or anxious about you leaving the house. Dogs who try to cling to your leg or face when you walk away can also indicate Separation Anxiety issues.

Help Your Dog Cope with Separation Anxiety Include:

  • Training it to be calm on its own.
  • Choosing a less reactive dog.
  • Trying medication.

Dogs with separation anxiety can be a complex problem to diagnose and treat. It is because the symptoms can vary greatly depending on the individual. Signs of separation anxiety in dogs will include excessive scratching, digging, barking, panting and drooling.

Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their guardians prepare to leave. Others seem anxious or depressed before their guardians’ departure or when their guardians aren’t present. Sometimes, a dog may carry out the behaviour of the opposite personality type, either appearing happy and friendly when their guardian is leaving or sad and withdrawn.

Dogs are usually very good at adapting to their surroundings. When a dog has left home alone, they typically adapt to find something to entertain them while they wait for their owner. Some dogs might stick out their tongue or lick their paws, while others might sit in front of the door and howl. However, dogs may develop separation anxiety when left without a guardian for too long and begin barking and displaying.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Determining if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, the following symptoms may be visible:

The Dog’s Urinating and Defecating in the Home.

Dogs often try to cope with separation anxiety by soiling their home. It can be hard on the cleaner and owner and make quite a mess. It is best to crate the dog alone or separated from its guardian.

“Dog!” Is Making a Scene – “Howling and Barking”.

Dogs with separation anxiety can cause problems for their guardians, such as excessive barking, destructiveness, and issues with other dogs. A common issue is that they bark or howl even when not left alone or separated from their guardians.

The Dog is Digging, “Chewing and Destructive.”

Dogs often exhibit problematic behaviour when they are left alone for too long. Unfortunately, many dog guardians don’t realize that their dogs have separation anxiety, and their presence does not typically reinforce the behaviour. Although there are some ways to reduce this type of anxiety, many dogs still chew, dig and destroy despite being in the same room with their guardians.

Dog Is Trying to Escape From Home

Dogs are highly adaptive creatures. They look for ways to escape their living spaces when left alone or separated from their guardian. Separation anxiety may try to dig or chew through doors or windows, risking injury and death. The most effective way to prevent your pet from developing separation anxiety is by caring for him. It will help create a better foundation for you and the animal to build upon since he won’t be living in fear that things are about to change.

The Dog is Continuously Pacing.

There are many types of dog walkers, but one of the most common forms is pacing. It is a pattern that dogs often use if left alone or separated from their guardians. This pattern can be circular or linear and is often used to regulate body temperature and use energy stores. There are a few different reasons why pacing dogs might walk back and forth, but some believe it strengthens the skeletal muscles. It might also use to avoid over-exertion or injury.

Tight-Legged Walk: seen with the dog on a leash, and the owner was pulling it back while they walked in a circle. It can help keep a dog from straining its front paws.

Circling Step: The dog circles around in place and returns to its original position after every step taken forward or backward (left or right).

Preventing “Coprophagia” in Dogs

Coprophagia is the fancy term for eating feces. It’s unpleasant to know about, but it’s relatively common in dogs, especially puppies. Eating feces can introduce some vicious intestinal parasites and bacteria if your dog eats them, but it’s not just a nasty habit that can happen out of nowhere.

  • Make sure to accompany your dog to the yard on his bathroom breaks to keep the area clean. Train your dog where they should go and eliminate.
  • Dogs are known to be messy eaters. They love to eat their feces; unfortunately, this habit is tough to break. It would be best to find quick and easy ways to keep your pup from eating their feces so there’s no mess in the house or yard. One way is Healthy Promise Potty Mouth Coprophagia Supplements for Dogs. Dogs will eat their feces for various reasons, and the most common cause is their lack of food or water. Or are you going through Anxiety Disorder from being left alone?
  • Dogs love to explore. They’ll often follow you down the street or run towards and up the stairs. It’s frustrating when trying to teach them a new command or keep them on a leash. Teach the dog the “leave it” to help it understand what you want to do when they see something that’s not food while you’re walking.
  • If you’re worried about your pet getting hungry because she needs to eat more, try feeding him more often but in smaller portions. It will help ensure that he doesn’t gorge on food and become overly hungry and likely to overeat. If your dog is a picky eater, ensure that you are feeding him high-quality food and giving him plenty of exercise for optimum physical and mental health.
  • One thing that doesn’t work is scolding your dog for eating feces. It has no effect at all except to hurt their feelings. You can help them overcome this behaviour by using positive reinforcement instead.

Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety, Why?

Many experts believe that dogs develop separation anxiety due to their domestication. Dogs are pack animals who rely on their family members to help provide them with food, protection and companionship.

However, over time, dogs may see their family members come and go at different times throughout the day, leaving them needing clarification about where they should be. It is also possible that dogs feel abandoned when humans leave for work or go out of the house.

Dogs mostly want to be close to their family members and may act clingy when left at home alone. They may bark, dig, cry, or destroy if neglected. If your dog acts out this way, it is essential to understand what triggers the behaviour and ensure that they can cope without outside help during these times of stress.

Change of Family Triggers Separation Anxiety

These separations can cause anxiety in dogs and lead to destructive behaviour such as barking, destruction of furniture and chasing their former owner.

My Dog is Extremely Nervous about the Change in Schedule

Dogs develop separation anxiety and experience behavioural problems such as destructive behaviour and barking. A sudden shift in the schedule can cause a dog to feel anxious, which may lead to more behaviours like these.

While working from home, you must consider your pet’s needs during specific periods. If you leave your dog for long periods, it can be difficult for your pet to adjust to this change in routine. During the adjustment period, your pet might develop separation anxiety, a common problem among pets left alone for long periods.

My Dog Change in Residence Causes Separation Anxiety.

Moving to a new home can cause stress and anxiety in humans and their dogs, whether in an apartment or a house. A unique experience, new smells, and separation from familiar surroundings can trigger your dog into panic mode. The way to transition is by taking your dog out for walks or providing enough stimulation at home.

Dog Medical Problems to Rule Out First

Incontinence can be a medical problem for your pet that is difficult or impossible to prevent. Some of the most common incontinence conditions include:

Dogs often seem unaware that they’ve soiled themselves, which can be frustrating for their owners. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. Several medical issues exist that could cause your pet’s leaking urine during sleep, including urinary tract infections, a weak sphincter caused by old age and hormone-related problems after surgery.

If your dog is acting out or Separation Anxiety is beginning to impact your daily life negatively, it’s best to discuss this with your vet since meds and diet can sometimes work.

Types of Dog Behavior Problems

It is difficult to tell if your dog has separation anxiety. Some common behaviour problems can cause similar symptoms. It’s important to know what causes these symptoms and what actions to take before concluding that your dog has separation anxiety.

Dogs Excitement Urination

Although many dog breeds never display submissive behaviours, many dogs will urinate and other forms of marking when first meeting another dog or human. And some dogs may continue to do so even in the context of interactions, saying things like growling, baring their teeth or crouching calmly with their head lowered.

House Training

The idea of house training a dog might seem simple, but it’s a lot more complicated than it looks. Dogs are different from people and can’t control their bodily functions. Keeping your training methods consistent is vital; punishing a dog for not adequately house-trained will only worsen the problem.

Dog Marking by Urinating

Urinating on vertical surfaces is normal behaviour for dogs. Dogs spray urine to leave their scent, which others can smell and follow. This behaviour is in areas where the dog likes to hang out.

Dogs Being Destructive

When a dog is left alone, it might engage in destructive chewing or digging. Sometimes you can eliminate behaviours by teaching basic commands such as “leave it” and “go away.” However, most dogs who engage in destructive behaviour while at home or away from their guardians need more help.

Boredom in Dogs

Having a dog can be a lot of fun, but having time for your pet is also essential. Dogs need mental stimulation just like humans do; they are very social creatures and should give plenty of opportunities to do things together. It is vital to keep your dog entertained, so they don’t become destructive.

Barking or Howling in Excess

The “Dog Whisperer” always talks about how dogs communicate with humans through body language and sounds. However, some other things make a dog bark or howl. It’s a list of the most common environmental triggers that cause the problem:

  • Frightening noise or sudden movement
  • Other dogs/humans nearby neighbours with pets in the yard that bark or howl
  • People coming to visit, especially if they have children with them

What to Do if the Dog Has Separation Anxiety? Things to Consider When Your Dog Has “Separation Anxiety”

Treatment for Mild Separation Anxiety

If a dog has mild separation anxiety, it’s usually not a big deal. While some dogs show mild stress signs, others have separation anxiety. However, the most common treatment is introducing the pet to new situations and making them feel comfortable. For many pet owners, their dogs can be a source of worry. The key to resolving your dog’s separation anxiety is counter-conditioning. Here are some pointers to help you through this process.

People learn the sight or presence of a feared or disliked person. Animal, place, object or situation with something outstanding, something the dog loves. The dog would love to have people around its own home. A good tip would be to play a sound it likes when people come over.

Dogs can often develop anxiety when left home alone. The dog learns that home alone predicts good things for him, so he becomes anxious when left home. Without the regular release of hormones, these dogs often demonstrate behaviours such as barking, chewing on furniture and jumping on people to get attention.

Dogs are naturally curious and will do anything for a tasty meal. It is essential to provide your dog with safe, healthy food that contains enough calories to fuel them for the rest of their day. KONG food is a meatless pet food brand that’s cleaner and fresher than the leading brands on the market. Owners can also choose various flavours to cater to their dogs’ preferences. The company also offers an innovative recipe with added protein for dogs missing out on regular meals.

Treatment for Separation Anxiety

Dogs that suffer from severe separation anxiety require more complex desensitization and counter-conditioning programs to help get them used to changes in their everyday routine.

It can take time to get a dog accustomed to being alone. Many dog owners encounter separation anxiety, so starting with short breaks that don’t cause any distress is the way to go. Gradually increasing the length of your separations over weeks will help it approach this new lifestyle easily.

Desensitization and counter-conditioning are two easily understood processes that make a massive difference in the effectiveness of your program. Here are the steps for both:

  • Safety is the most important thing to consider when reading someone’s behaviour with a service dog.
  • Always make sure that you can first approach the animal. A safe and solid foundation will always be suitable for all parties involved.
  • If you’re having issues with your dog and can’t find a behaviourist in your area, try enlisting the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but make sure they are specifically qualified to help.

Pre-Departure Cues that Give Dogs Separation Anxiety

Some dogs get anxious when their guardians are preparing to leave the house. One of the most common examples is dogs that start pacing, panting and whining when their guardians apply makeup, put on shoes and a coat, and pick up a bag or car key before leaving. If your dog does not typically show signs of anxiety, you can skip the next step with confidence.

Extreme anxiety that can persist even in their dogs’ absence may trigger guardian dogs. 

They can observe these behaviours without going through their paces. When you leave, your dog may get anxious and start acting out or doing something harmful. It needs to remember that you’ll be back and resist the urge to act out while you’re gone.

What would you do to reduce your dog’s stress levels before leaving? To start, walk in a familiar path and have them wear their leash. You should also introduce triggers they like and offer rewards when they behave accordingly. Please keep your dog occupied when you cannot spend time with them. To start, one could spend a lot of time watching TV or doing other activities indoors.

Use your keys as a calming signal to your dog. Toss them on the floor and then sit on the couch or at the kitchen table as they happen. No matter where you are, they won’t always lead to you leaving, so your dog will be less anxious when he sees them. Remember that dogs require extra care and attention to your departure cues. 

It’s a challenge to know when you are imagining your dog behaving in a way that he might not, but the good news is that after your dog learns not to fear your faking movements, you can move on and take part in other enjoyable tasks.

Graduated Departures

It is important to remember when planning absences for your dogs, they may become anxious. One of the main rules is to plan absences shorter than the time it takes for them to become upset.

You have an adorable pup, and you’re looking for ways to help him develop new behaviours. Dogs are notoriously skittish in new situations, so we suggest starting with something small and keeping him manageable.

Slowly increase the time you wait on the other side of the door. It will help your dog get used to when you’re leaving. For example, ask the dog to stay, then put on the coat.

  • You can exercise with your dog in many ways, but sometimes it can take effort to find the time. One option is to do out-of-sight stay exercises outside the door, but if you always leave through the front door, doing the activities at the back door first makes sense.
  • You can now incorporate short absences into your training for much better results. Start with a break of one or two seconds, and slowly increase the time you’re away from the dog. For dogs, this is a “safe” cue for when you’re about to leave the house. Set up a ten-second separation before you leave so your dog is re-trained and saved from potential harm.
  • Be sure to wait between absences. After each short separation, you must ensure the dog is relaxed before leaving again. If you go again quickly while your dog is excited, it will already be exciting when you come in from the previous separation. This excitement might make the dog less able to tolerate the following separation. Better. You’ll want to be calm and quiet when leaving or entering your home. It will help you to decrease the chances of a conflict occurring between yourself and others.
  • Different Factors can come into play when determining how much time your dog can tolerate time away from you, but there are no guidelines. Consider consulting a professional or visiting a veterinary to decide on your options. Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and are prone to panic attacks. These dogs will react aggressively, bark incessantly, or even attempt to escape their owner’s home.
  • Depending on how your dog handles the separation, you can increase the time your pet is away from you. Start with 5 minutes, then move up to 15 minutes. Usually, your dog can handle up to 4 hours of being left alone, so work up from there.

Separation Anxiety Treatment

You can use desensitization to take steps toward your dog’s anxiety or fear gradually. To do this, you would need to expose them to a low-intensity version of the stimulus that provokes their anxiety or fear without making them feel it too strongly.

Occasionally during treatment, your dog can’t be left alone. It will need to stay with you until it feels more comfortable. There are many ways you can move forward with this treatment and make sure it’s a success.

  • Most employers recognize that taking your dog to work with you can benefit you and your animal companion. Your pet will enjoy seeing new places, exploring new smells, and relaxing in your tranquil office space.
  • Don’t worry about your dog when you’re not home! Schedule a family member, friend or dog sitter to come and stay with your pup. They will be able to calm the animal when left alone since, most of the time, dogs suffering from separation anxiety are okay if someone is with them.
  • Sending your dog to a sitter or dog daycare is a sure way to make new friends while spending more time with your pup!
  • Be Warned: your dog can suffer from a Heatstroke and can Die if left in a vehicle in warm weather. NEVER leave your dog in a car unless you’re sure the interior will heat up, even for just a few minutes.

When leaving, it’s important to pat your dog before you go. It’ll make your departure more comfortable for everyone and help you adjust to the new environment! Say “hello” to your dog when you come back home. Then, wait until he is calm and relaxed before interacting with him. The amount of time to process depends on anxiety and individual variation. When you come home, your dog might have a hard time adapting. Try distracting him with commands that he knows, like “sitting,” “staying down,” “or shaking.”

Should I crate my dog or not?

Crate training is helpful for dogs to learn a crate is a safe place to be left alone. It can also reduce anxiety and stress, but it’s vital that your dog feels comfortable.

Before you decide whether or not to use a crate, monitor your dog’s behaviour while they’re being trained and let them spend time in the crate while you’re home.

Suppose your dog shows signs of distress due to prolonged exposure to other dogs or people, then a crate isn’t the best choice. Instead of using a crate, you can configure your dog to one room.

Become a Dog Trainer

Proper methods for providing physical and mental stimulation are essential to many kinds of animals, especially those with anxiety problems. Providing practical activities can minimize stress and regularly offer outlets to pets.

To Keep Your Dog Busy and Happy, Consider the Following Suggestions:

  • Make sure your dog gets enough exercise! Thirty minutes of exercise is best, but try to exercise your dog before you leave. It might help him relax and rest while you’re gone.
  • A game of fetch or tug can be a fun bonding experience with a loved pet while providing mental stimulation.
  • Take your dog on walks daily to see new sights and learn about the community. They need to meet new friends & enjoy the outdoors.
  • Let your dog play off-leash with other dogs.
  • Large, colourful puzzle toys to feed your dog food are a great way to keep them engaged. Moreover, you can stuff them with peanut butter, cheese or yogurt. Dogs typically chew on things alone, so providing a few puzzle toys is a great idea.
  • Dogs can get easily bored and don’t like to go hungry, so this is a great alternative to help them pass the time when you’re gone. You can hide large pieces of kibble or use strategically placed toy balls to entertain your pup while you’re away.
  • There is a way to engage in mentally stimulating games for your dog and increase the time spent with them. Enroll in a reward-based training class or speak to a certified professional dog trainer about one-on-one time for you and your furry friend. Practicing skills with your dog is an effective way to tire them out mentally. It can help them be less anxious when left alone for an extended period.
  • Are you interested in getting involved in dog sports? Try participating in events like agility, freestyle or fly ball.

Medications that Might Help with Separation Anxiety

Always take your vet’s advice before giving your dog medication for a behaviour problem.

Many dogs experience separation anxiety and may need medication to resolve their issues. Sometimes medication is the best answer, but you’ll want to talk with your vet about this before proceeding. Some anti-anxiety medications are safe to take with dogs, especially when they need to enter into periods of isolation, such as during quarantine or after surgery. They also help a dog make progress more quickly in the recovery process.

Dogs with mild separation anxiety can sometimes benefit from taking drugs without behavioural modification. Drug and behaviour therapy is a great way to change dogs’ habits. While the first few weeks are often tricky for some, most can gradually reduce their dosage and eventually wean off medication altogether.

You may also want to speak with your vet about this. They will provide insights on navigating this emotionally tricky topic and how to transition from your traditional care methods. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists work closely with veterinarians and can provide a wealth of information.

You Should Never Punish Your Dog

We may think our dog’s behaviour is an attempt to defy us, but it is more likely a response from him when he doesn’t understand what we are asking. It would be best never to punish a dog for “bad behaviour.” Punishing a dog only makes the situation worse, as it will lead to even more undesirable behaviour.

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