One of the most common cognitive health conditions dogs suffer from is canine separation anxiety. Dog separation anxiety is a health condition in which dogs feel anxious and negatively react when left behind. It is hard to watch your pet react poorly, and however, there are ways you can treat and train your pet to get rid of their separation anxiety.
Why do Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety?
The cause of separation anxiety in animals completely depends on each situation. For instance, some dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to this health condition. This is because some dogs were bred originally to be companions, and they are used to being around their humans and owners. When these dogs are not, they begin to react negatively.
Other times, dogs come from bad situations and are psychologically traumatized. Sadly, not all dogs that come from shelters had great families and stories before they came to their current forever homes. If your pet has been abused in the past, they may fear that it will happen again, causing separation anxiety. This is common in dogs that fear a general group of people. For instance, it is not uncommon for pets to be afraid of children or men.
What are the Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Most of the time, you won’t notice the signs until you are home after a long day of work. Usually, dogs who feel separation anxiety will react only after their owners are away. These dogs will destroy entry and exit points out of stress.
Other common signs of canine separation anxiety are:
How to Diagnose Separation Anxiety
Although you can go and talk to your dog’s veterinarian, it is easier to look for the signs yourself. There is no comprehensive exam that allows your vet to find the exact cognitive condition. Instead, your dog’s vet will ask you questions about their symptoms and any unusual behaviors.
Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs
It is a lot easier to treat separation anxiety in dogs at home than with medical treatment. Since the causes are psychological, you can help your dog through their emotions and separation anxiety by treating the main cause. Treating the main cause of separation anxiety takes training, time, and patience.
If your dog is suffering and unable to function, some medications can help them. For instance, some dogs with separation anxiety are unable to fall asleep. Your dog’s veterinarian can easily prescribe them sleep medication or anti-anxiety medication to induce sleep.
Safe and Comfortable Space
Most of the time, however, the treatments are home-based and easy! One way you can help your pet conquer their separation anxiety is by providing them with a safe and comfortable space. You can set up a corner in your home and place it with things that smell like you. This calms them down when you are not home. In the comfort corner, you have the ability to get creative. This means that you can also add items like their favorite toys and blankets.
Comfort corners are great for self-soothing. However, the only way to get rid of separation anxiety is through extensive training. The training takes time and patience. Some pet owners choose to train their pets by using a crate. When they leave their pet home alone, the dog stays in the crate. Usually, crates have items, however, for the dogs to self-soothe.
Give Them Time to Settle Down
The more popular training method is to reassure your puppy that they are okay. It does take time, however, for your dog to settle. The best thing you can do to reassure your dog is to ignore them when you first come home. Although this may seem hard to do since our furry friends love to jump, cuddle, and play, if you pay too much attention, then you are validating their fears. While there is nothing wrong with feeling nervous, it does hurt your chances of helping your dog conquer their battle with separation anxiety.
Make Leaving the House Normal
Some dogs also whine and cry when they know you are leaving. There are some tell-tale signs they pick up on, such as the rattling of your keys. You can’t stay home with your dog all the time, though. Instead of cuddling and reassuring your puppy as soon as you leave, treat you leaving the door like something normal.
You can also start the training off slowly. Instead of immediately leaving home for hours, go on a walk for a few minutes at a time. Each time you come home, don’t acknowledge your dog. After they are calm, you can give them a treat—this way, your puppy associates calmness with treats.
All in all, dog separation anxiety is an uncomfortable cognitive condition that some dogs develop. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat, prevent, and manage the symptoms of this condition. Unlike other health conditions, you don’t have to diagnose this condition at a vet’s office. However, you should still notice the signs and make changes to decrease your dog’s anxiety levels.