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Dogs are naturally pack animals, so they can become anxious when they are left alone in the house. This is because dogs have an instinctive need to be around their pack which usually consists of you and your family members. Your dog feels safe with the people he knows best, but when you leave him alone in a new place or environment, he doesn’t know how to react. Dogs who feel this way may try to find ways to entertain themselves by digging up your backyard or chewing on things that aren’t theirs.
Dogs are domesticated animals that thrive on human companionship and attention. When they’re not around us, they begin feeling lonely and scared for our safety, even if we’re just gone for short periods of time. But having a pet parent who works too much or is away from home for long periods of time can put a lot of stress on the dog. In this case, he may not be able to handle his anxiety, and there are some things you need to do to help him out.
In this article, we’re going to go over how to manage your dog’s separation anxiety so that both of you can have a comfortable life together. Let’s start by discussing the different types of separation anxiety and their symptoms:
Signs of Separation Anxiety
There are two main types of separation anxiety – mild and severe. While the symptoms for both types are similar, your dog’s reaction will depend on the severity of his anxiety.
Symptoms of Mild Separation Anxiety
Your dog is agitated when you prepare to leave him alone, even if it’s just for a short time.
He whines or barks while you’re getting ready to leave or while you’re away. Dogs that suffer from this type of separation anxiety aren’t destructive though they can become so in severe cases.
Your dog follows you around everywhere, even if you’re just picking up the mail. This means he has separation issues and doesn’t like being left alone at all. Even when he’s outside, he’ll follow your every move and wait for you to come back.
Symptoms of Severe Separation Anxiety
The main symptom of this type is destruction. It can include anything from digging up the backyard, eating plants, or knocking things over while you’re gone. Some dogs can even get into your trash cans or get into trouble with your neighbors. Your dog may also act out in other ways like having accidents inside the house, drooling excessively when he sees you getting ready to leave, licking his paws incessantly, or chewing on himself until his skin becomes red and irritated. Note that all behaviors are warning signs since they occur when your dog is alone and separated from you, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
How to Manage Your Dog’s Anxiety While You’re Away
1. Socialize your dog to new people and places
If you want to leave him with a neighbor or family member, make sure he gets used to them beforehand. Socializing is usually done naturally as your dog grows up but if you notice that he’s not very good around people, try getting him more socialized by taking him outside and exposing him to different environments and situations throughout his life. Make sure these experiences are positive ones since the goal is for him to learn that meeting new people isn’t scary or dangerous. Exposing your dog to different types of people like men, women, and children will also help him get over his anxiety if you need to leave them at a pet hotel. And while it may be difficult at first, try not to show your dog that you’re nervous or uneasy around new things and people. Always act calm, collected, and happy when in the company of new people, and he’ll follow suit.
2. Teach him what you want and don’t want
It’s important for dogs to know the rules of the house so that they begin behaving accordingly – especially if they start having separation anxiety after a new person moves into your home or when there are young children in the family who aren’t very good at telling dogs “No.” For example, you can teach your dog how to behave when guests come over by rewarding him with treats every time he stops barking when they knock on the door. This will take some time, but it’s worth it since getting your dog used to people coming over is one of the things you’ll have to do if you work from home and don’t want strangers knocking at your door. Also, make sure he knows what you expect from him while you’re away by giving him a treat or playing with him when he’s been good. Make sure to use the same behavior every time so that he can begin associating it with getting a special treat or praise. This way, separation anxiety will almost always be a thing of the past for both you and your dog.
3. Find an experienced dog trainer
If none of these strategies seem to work, then contact a professional dog trainer in your area who has plenty of experience dealing with dogs suffering from separation anxiety problems. Using other methods like punishment or trying to teach your dog what you want through force can actually make the problem worse. While this type of training may look like it’s working at first, you’re only reinforcing the theory that he has to do whatever it takes to get attention and treats.
Other Important Considerations
For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety but aren’t destructive, experts recommend simply creating a routine for your dog before leaving him alone. Go about things in the same order every time, so he knows what’s coming next. At the same time, give him plenty of exercises beforehand so he won’t feel restless while you’re away and follow up with a treat and some playtime when you return so he realizes that being separated from his owner isn’t such a bad thing after all.