February 10, 2021
Some dogs can throw themselves or injure themselves when left alone due to an overwhelming sense of anxiety during separation. Here are some signs to look out for and some ways to manage your dog’s anxiety.
Dogs express concern about separation in a variety of ways after their owner leaves them alone. The following symptoms may indicate that your dog may be suffering from separation:
Urination and defecation in the house: For some dogs, being alone can lead to an accident. Some dogs will also defecate and then consume all or part of their feces after being left alone. If they do this in front of people, it is probably not an indicator of separation anxiety.
Chewing and destruction: Some dogs express concern about separation by destroying things in the home. Although this damages your belongings, it can also injure your dog.
Barking and / or howling: When your dog starts barking too, without being provoked by anything, it may be a sign that he is anxious about separation.
Escape: Separation anxiety can take the form of your dog trying to escape by digging or chewing on doors and windows. This can injure your dog when they are left alone.
Before you assume that your dog is suffering from separation, consider other factors that may contribute to these actions, such as medications, boredom, and incomplete home training. Please consult your veterinarian if you think your dog may be anxious about separation to discuss further options.
Like humans, every dog is different and can have different events that cause separation anxiety. Some of the most common triggers are being alone for the first time, being alone once you are used to regular human interaction, experiencing a traumatic event, and a change in routine.
If your dog shows signs of a mild case of separation anxiety, you should consider contraduction to reduce their anxiety. Counterconditioning is a process that involves moving your dog’s fears and anxieties to a calmer and calmer state through association.
To help counteract your dog, start associating loneliness with positive things, such as food and toys. Consider leaving your dog with a stuffed toy or puzzle that will take them at least twenty minutes to complete. Be sure to pick up these toys when you return so that your dog can establish a connection between these special toys and be alone.
More moderate and severe cases of separation anxiety require a more intensive and complex training and treatment program. Desensitization and counterconditioning can be difficult to perform and may require a trained professional.
Start by teaching your dog that you don’t leave every time you pick up your keys or jacket. Practice preparing to leave and then stay home to show your dog that you don’t have to worry when they see you getting your keys. Keep in mind that your dog may need to spend days or weeks experiencing these false alarms before his anxiety subsides.
Once your dog is more comfortable with the usual signals you leave, consider exposing your dog to very short trips. They can be as simple as entering another room and closing the door, starting with very short absences and working for longer periods of time. This process is time consuming and will not happen overnight, so be sure to stay patient and consistent before you start seeing results.
In very severe cases of separation anxiety, consider talking to your veterinarian about medication options for your dog. It can help your dog tolerate some isolation without feeling anxious and can help with the treatment and training process.
This treatment will not work overnight, so it is crucial to maintain a positive attitude and remain patient. Separation anxiety symptoms are not the result of disobedience or a vicious dog, but simply your dog responding to a disaster. Stay patient with them and try not to be disappointed or give up.
Does your dog feel anxious about separation? Tell us about it in the comments below and follow @campingwithdogs and @myalphapak on Instagram to keep you up to date on other safety tips for you and your dog!