Separation Anxiety

 

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Learn how to recognise separation anxiety in your dog and discover ways to help them overcome this issue.

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Symptoms of Separation Anxiety include:

• Your dog follows you from room to room 24/7

• They will be over attached to the owner when they are present.

• Barking, crying and whining when left alone.

• Destroying things like ripping wallpaper, chewing furniture or other things

• Serious escape attempts and much more…

 

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There are steps that you can take to help prevent Separation Anxiety from developing.

When you arrive home, walk in and ignore your dog, make a drink, hang your coat up or put your shopping away.  Do not look at them, do not say anything - don't even touch them. You might find it difficult to do at first but please persevere - it will be worth it!   Your dog will eventually go and lay down or sit quietly, this is the time when you say 'hi',

Remember - 'Reward a Calm Mind and Promote A Calm Dog'

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... make like a tree and leave!

 it is important that you 'just go', do not make an issue out of it by telling them what you are doing - eg: 'ok darling, mummy will see you later' or 'I won't be long - be a good boy/girl'.  Don't keep coming back into the room to double check or have a 'quick peek' to see if they are ok, and there is no need to wave goodbye - By doing this you are making your dog even more anxious. 

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Some of the things that you can do to help your dog

Practice mini 'leaves'

This is where you leave the dog for a very short period of time. Say nothing when you leave, just go, even if it is just to make a cup of tea, then return and ignore your dog, walk in and go and sit down, or go and look out of the window, read a book, anything- but you must ignore your dog.

 If you have a dog that jumps up, do not sit down. Go to your window and look out whilst ignoring the dog until he goes and lays down. Repeat this exercise many times a day gradually increasing the time you leave the dog. Make sure that when you start this that you do it in short periods, keep the time you leave your dog short, to help prevent your dog from getting too stressed.

Work at your dog's pace.

A good time to practice mini 'leaves' - If you need to leave the room for any reason such as going to the toilet, making a drink or even preparing dinner - shut the door so your dog can't follow.

 

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Top Tips

Leave your keys, coat, and shoes in a different room to your dog, this means that when you pick them up it is not an immediate trigger for your dog to get anxious.

Change the routine - Leave your house from different exits; say the front door, back door, patio door. You could go out of the back door and come back in via the front door, or out the back door and in via the patio. Do this when your dog least expects it, stay calm and just do it, do not keep looking back or say anything like see you later.

When you are at home try and make use of a stair gate, that way you can keep some distance from your dog, but the dog can still see you. But ignore your dog, let the dog get used to laying down and relaxing. 

You can also give your dog some toys or chews to keep him occupied whilst you’re in the other room like a stuffed frozen Kong, stag bar etc. This way the dog will start looking forward to you going as he gets very good things. Do not give these just as you go out the door to start with.  If you start off by giving them a treat as you leave your dog will start to predict that a Kong or stag bar means you’re leaving and become stressed/ anxious. 

Instead,  give them the Kong when you are at home, and as they tuck in - move to the other side of the room. If they do not react and continue to chew on the Kong or stag bar, leave the room for a few seconds and then come back in. Build on this.

Leave something with your scent on, eg an old t-shirt or top.

A good walk and play before you leave will tire your dog and encourage them to sleep whilst you are out of the house.

Leave the TV or radio on. Make sure the tv channel that you leave on does not have loads of loud noises on. I often find shopping channels are good for this!

 

If your dog has severe separation anxiety please call a professional, certified trainer.

   

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