How to Train a Dog with Separation Anxiety
What is Separation Anxiety?
Whether being a new owner of a pup or having a dog for a while that still gets upset when you have to leave, separation anxiety is a common trait that most dogs face at one point or another.
Separation anxiety occurs when a dog is anxious and insecure when left alone or separated from their human. There are several different degrees at which dogs can experience separation anxiety, with most common symptoms include:
Drooling and panting
When dogs experience anxiety at an extreme level, they may drool or pant excessively.
Crying, barking, or whining
Dogs will cry, bark, and whine persistently to get their owner’s attention when they aren’t with their owner.
Urinating or defecating
Some dogs don’t have the best bladder control so when left alone without their owner they may be more prone to urinate in their crate/pen even though they still may be housebroken.
Dogs with severe separation anxiety will dig or chew on furniture, window sills, or really anything within reach. Make sure to dog-proof your house if this is one of your dogs symptoms.
Trying to escape
Whether your put your pup in a playpen or crate, they’ll try their best to escape in order to get back to their owner.
Dogs who suffer severely from separation anxiety may even suffer from colitis, an inflammation in the large bowel resulting in diarrhea.
So what’s the goal in training a dog with separation anxiety?
The goal of training a dog with separation anxiety is about changing how a dog feels about being left alone without their owner.
Training them correctly will help the dog feel calm when the owner has to leave, rather than anxious and worried. This will also give your dog a better understanding of when you leave and when to expect your return. This will also give your dog confidence while they are gone and will help build trust with their owner.
How to train your dog with separation anxiety
One of the best ways to leave your dog when you have to go somewhere is by giving them proper exercise beforehand. Dogs who are left full of energy will become even more anxious when being left alone so it’s a good idea to wear them out and play with them before you have to leave.
Make sure that when you have to leave the house your mannerisms appear confident and secure with your dog. A dog can sense fear or anxiousness with the owner so if you leave the house looking worried, your dog will be as well. Short goodbyes are favored much more than goodbyes that are sad and dragged out. The dog needs to understand that you leaving the house isn’t a big deal and that you’ll return home soon.
Leave your dog’s kennel/crate open throughout the day so they know that their place isn’t a punishment, but more of a comfort that they can go and reside in whenever they need. Otherwise, if they are only in their kennel when you have to leave, they’ll associate that as you getting ready to leave them which will only make each crate experience worse.
Unknowingly or knowingly, dog owners can send signals to their dog that create separation anxiety. The good news, however, is that this is something that dogs can overcome with the proper training.
If you are still experiencing trouble with your dog’s separation anxiety, it’s best to contact a dog behaviorist or your veterinarian to aid you and your dog’s situation.