Separation anxiety in dogs is a condition wherein a dog exhibits distress, panic, and other behavioral problems when separated from its owner or handler. Usually, separation anxiety in dogs manifests itself 30 minutes after the pet is left alone on its own. Although separation anxiety is a fairly common disorder in dogs, not all dogs suffer from this problem.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
The most common signs of separation anxiety in pets are restlessness, whining, anxiety, and stress. The dog could drool more, have sweaty paws and lie down passively as if it is giving up. Other signs of separation anxiety in dogs are loss of appetite, accidents (peeing or defecating indoors) and panic-stricken barking or howling.
How to Deal with Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Take Your Dog for a Walk
One of the best ways to reduce anxiety and stress in sensitive dogs is to take the pet to a walk before you leave the house. You want to make the walk long and rigorous to calm the dog down and de-stress. Bring water and food with you during these long walks. As you walk the dog, give the animal plenty of time to rest. The idea here is to wear out your pooch so by the time you reach home, your dog wants to rest or take a nap!
Never leave guilty or nervous feelings behind. You want to project a confident, assertive energy to assure your pet that everything is going to be all right and that you are the alpha male. Do not coo, give guilty hugs, or throw lingering looks of concern at your pet. The dog can “read” your facial expression and will pick up all the negative vibe that you give off. A calm, assertive demeanor will help ease separation anxiety in your pet.
Although it is tempting to spend as much time as you can hanging out with your pet, don’t. You want to give your pet its own alone time so it develops independence. As a pet owner, you want to make sure your pet can take care of itself when it is alone. One way to build self-reliance in dogs is to leave them alone for five minutes and gradually extending the alone time to ten to twenty minutes. Once the dog started getting used to being alone for 20 minutes, extend its alone time to an hour. Soon, the dog will start learning to depend on itself.
But how do you peel yourself away from your pooch? Find a room in your home with no objects that are easily destroyed, like a spare room. Now place your dog’s favorite toys, water bowl, and food bowl. Do not make a big fuss about the change. Lead the dog inside the room, stay with him for a minute and then leave by shutting the door promptly. Again, no fanfare. You want to give the impression that leaving is okay. Now go back to the room five minutes later, pat your pet and hand his favorite treat. Repeat this exercise while gradually increasing the alone time of your pet.