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Separation anxiety manifests in destructive behavioural and physical demeanour. It affects your dog’s physiological and overall health as it is a significant stressor that has adverse effects.
What is separation anxiety in dogs?
It is a frantic, anxious and distressed behaviour that is associated with a dog’s separation from its human being. Mistaking separation anxiety for disobedience or shenanigans is easy. Dogs are legitimately distressed and upset because of their human’s absence.
What are the signs of separation anxiety in dogs?
Barking continuously, howling, profusely salivating, dilated pupils, panting, trembling and pacing are clear signs of anxiety. They also show behavioural signs like ignoring food, descriptive behaviour at home, attempting to escape and find their humans.
We’ve put together a few tips to help ease the separation anxiety that your dog feels.
- Change your pattern of behaviour before leaving.
You can try to create a different pattern before leaving the house. By using a different door, you can put on your sweater/coat and don’t go for 15 minutes. Leave your essentials in a different location and grab them before you leave. It helps in breaking the association your dog has made with these actions and your departure. If you give them a treat or toy before you go, it could make them feel like they are still safe and it is great positive reinforcement.
- Take your dog for a walk before you leave.
Tiring your dog out ensures that he/she is calm and rested before you leave. If you start your day by taking your dog for a walk, it encourages a quiet, resting mode while you are away.
- Downplay Goodbyes and Hellos
It is hard to leave your dog at home while you are away, but remember that you cannot be emotional before you leave or when you get back. When you make it a big deal before you go out and after you’re back, it reinforces your dog’s fear of your absence. If you act calm, you will communicate to your dog that being apart is no big deal. Restrain yourself from overreacting in these situations.
- Be relaxed and confident
Dog’s can send emotions and fears, so even if you are feeling guilty, nervous, or concerned about leaving your dog at home, project positive energy of a pack leader. It helps ease your dog’s feelings because a calm and assertive leader can reduce the separation anxiety in dogs.
- Leave your dog with his/her favourite toys and soothing music.
Audiobooks can create a calming effect on dogs which helps in reducing their separation anxiety. The sound of a human voice can help reduce their stress while you’re not at home. Along with soothing music or an audiobook, leave your dog with its favourite toy and hide snacks and treats around the house so that your dog can hunt for them while you're away.