Whilst 2020 and 2021 certainly have not been the year’s we were expecting, there is one party who have benefited from the ‘stay at home message’...our dogs and puppies! Extra playtime, attention and cuddles with our pooches has been an added bonus during these times. However, as the time draws closer to a return to normal activities, going back to offices, returning to gyms, our furry friends may struggle to adapt to the return to reality and may even develop separation anxiety.
What is Dog Separation Anxiety?
Dog separation anxiety is a common phrase used to describe a dog’s behaviour (usually distress) when their owner leaves the room or home. Understanding and recognising the early signs of separation anxiety in your dog or puppy, can go a long way to preventing it long term.
A change in routines is one of the primary causes of dog separation anxiety, such as not being at home as often can cause distress within your dog, particularly if they have been used to human company for so long. Other causes may be your dog’s personality with some dog breeds being known to be more clingy and others more known to be independent.
Signs and Symptoms of Dog Separation Anxiety
Regardless of what has caused your dog to feel distressed and anxious when left alone it is important to notice the signs at the early stages to be able to tackle the issue. Dogs can exhibit stress in many ways so this list is not exhaustive, as each puppy is different. If your puppy tends to show multiple signs and symptoms from the list below on a regular basis when left alone, they may be suffering from separation anxiety.
- Excessive barking, whining, crying or howling as and when you leave
- Destructive behaviours such as chewing, scratching or destroying things in the home such as doors, walls or chairs
- Excessive salivation and panting
- Toilet accidents
- Attempts to escape the room or crate
Remedies for Dog Separation Anxiety
No one wants to see their dog in distress and it can be upsetting for owners to see them in this state but we must also address the issue and train our puppies to tolerate being left alone. There are a range of methods and remedies that can become a part of your puppies routine and aid any distress they may feel when left alone.
Learning the importance of training and obedience can be an important factor when trying to help relieve your puppy from separation anxiety. Train your dog to sit at the door, lie down, and stay while you go out of sight for long time frames in your own home. Train your dog to sit and wait to be called for meals and treats. In general, you should be teaching your dog in small steps to be respectful.
Crate training can be an important tool to ease your dog's distress when they are left alone. It is not considered cruel or unhealthy if used appropriately for your puppy. A crate provides a puppy with a place to relax and settle themselves. When at home with your dog, teach them to be familiar with being in their crate and slowly increase their time spent in their crate. Using chew toys - such as Willy & Dilly’s Rugby Balls and perhaps their favourite bone can entice your puppy to enjoy being in their crate. Then when the time comes for them to be left alone, they understand their crate is their own safe and comfortable space to relax in.
Exercise can be influential in helping to treat your dog’s separation anxiety. By ensuring your dog is getting plenty of exercise and expending their energy, they are more likely to look forward to some downtime and rest when you leave the home. Exercise also helps reassure your furry friend as they will get quality time with their beloved owner doing something they enjoy.
Separation anxiety can cause distress not only to dogs but the owners too. It can be difficult to treat however it is important to be patient, calm and loving as you teach your dog the importance of being alone and that you will return as normal to love and care for them.
Related Blog: Tips For Training Your Dog