As a Central Valley Dog Trainer, I have met dogs over the years who have torn through drywall, destroyed furniture, busted out windows and torn up carpeting. This destructive behavior happens when their pet parents are not home and is called separation anxiety.
Understand that dogs are pack animals and really don’t understand the concept of being alone. Whether you’re going for a walk or running a short errand, your dog doesn’t understand your departure. Which is why when you come home you are greeted with a lot of love and joy. Many dogs get stressed when their pet parents leave. Unless you take clear steps to reassure your dog, it may become anxious and agitated.
What are the symptoms of separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety can be moderate or severe. Symptoms may include:
Bark Busters Helps You Overcome Separation Anxiety
The number one way to help your dog overcome separation anxiety is to establish yourself as the leader of the pack. Strong leadership provides dogs with a sense of balance and security which in turn gives them the confidence to stay calm when they’re left alone.
The easiest time to start is when your dog is a puppy. Puppies adjusting to a new environment are anxious enough, so leave then alone for a short period of time and then gradually increase the time you are away. One easy way to accomplish this may be through crate training, creating a cozy environment where your dog feels secure. Make sure the crate is large enough for your dog to stand up and is in a quiet part of the house. This will allow your puppy to have a “den” where it can relax. Add a comfortable bed and a variety of toys. Initially leave the door open and allow your pop to explore the space on its own. Once your puppy becomes used to spending time in the crate, you can start to shut the door for short periods of time. Be careful not to leave puppies inside crates for more than a couple of hours at a time, as younger dogs need more frequent toileting breaks.
Before you know it your puppy will adjust to spending time without you in its sight. Most of your dog’s anxious responses will take place within the first 40 minutes of being left alone, so your separation anxiety training should be focused on getting your puppy over this hump. Once you’re sure that your pet can comfortably deal with your absence over this period, you can safely extend your absences to more than a couple of hours with ease.
Some Other Tips for Overcoming Anxiety
Do not punish your dog for bad behavior after you come home. Dogs relate punishment to their current behavior so they will be unable to link your actions to their previous misdeeds.
If you need help with separation anxiety call Barbara Gazley, an experienced Bark Busters trainer. I have helped hundreds of dog owners overcome separation, anxiety, barking and more.