Understanding Canine Separation Anxiety--Home Alone
Canine separation anxiety is best described as your dog finding it unbearable to be parted from you. Once left alone, their behaviour becomes problematic, ranging from incessant barking and howling, to trashing the dog owner's home, to urinating on beds, and over the furniture.
Obviously, this behaviour becomes a source of great concern to the pet owner. Understanding why, is the first step in learning how to adapt your dog's behaviour so that your pet being home alone, is not such a traumatic event for your dog, or for you.
No dog should be left alone for prolonged periods. They are social animals, in nature, part of a pack. A solitary existence is totally alien to a dog. But, a well thought out, socialisation and training program from puppyhood will almost always ensure that a dog has the confidence, and is adapted to your lifestyle enough, to tolerate periods of being alone.
If this type of program hasn't been put in place--then separation anxiety can rear its ugly head.
- Boredom is another contributory factor.
- Loss of a companion dog.
- Living with one person, and a very strong bond has been forged.
- A change in circumstances, new home, a new baby, occasionally the arrival of a new dog can precipitate it.
- Recently adopted dogs seem to be most prone, especially in the first few weeks in their new home.
- This behaviour is particularly prevalent in submissive, shy and sensitive pets.
No dog is beyond redemption--your dog just needs help to overcome this problem.
The following strategy isn't failsafe, but in many, many cases it has resolved the problem within a fairly short space of time. You begin by:
Teaching your pet increasing levels of tolerance:
- Start by going from room to room in your home, but don't allow your dog in the room with you.
- Progress to going out as normal, no fussing prior to leaving, no treats, just close the door and go.
- Come back within a couple of minutes. It is very important not to make a fuss of your dog, or dispense treats, at any stage.
- Be cool, casual, and confident.
- Rinse and repeat many times per day, over a growing daily period, and gradually increasing the time away.
- Decrease the time if your dog is showing signs of distress.
- If possible return by different ways. Come through the back door instead of the front, or through the window! Keep your dog guessing.
- Continue with this until your able to go out for 20-30 minutes without a problem.
Persistence will pay off in the end.
Here are a few more tips to help counteract Canine Separation Anxiety.
- Try exercising your dog an hour before leaving.
- Provide a small meal just before you leave. Your dog should now be feeling, contented and therefore sleepy.
- Leave a radio, TV, tape on. For company.
- Dog's that suffer from being home alone, often search out your clothing, and lie on it when your out. Why not provide it. Just renew your scent every now or then, or place it amongst your dirty washing.
- Leave out toy's, or something to chew while your away. This can often distract your pet from chewing something more valuable.
- When your going to leave the house cut the process down to the bare minimum. Coats, keys, bags etc; have ready by the door, put them on and go.
If the problems continue, then your going to need to look closely at your own behaviour towards your dog.
Pet owner's that always respond to a dog's attention seeking definetely reinforce this behaviour. You need to be less responsive, less reassuring at home, and when outside. Your dog won't hate you for it!
Encourage your dog's independence, and eventually canine separation anxiety will be a thing of the past for you, and your dog.
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