Dealing With Dog Separation Anxiety
If your dog whines, barks, and causes damage to your home while you're away, they are likely suffering from a case of separation anxiety. This problematic behavior is caused by many different factors and can be hard habit to break. However, with a little patience (and love), you should be able to get your dog comfortable and relaxed in their own company.
Gradually Leave Them Alone
Moderation is the easiest way to start breaking your dog of their separation anxiety. Start by leaving them alone in the house for no more than five minutes at a time. They may frantically bark and whine while you're outside, but you can't rush in to save them. That will ruin the effect. Once they can handle five minutes, extend it out longer and longer, until they can handle up to half an hour without a problem. This will make further modification techniques easier.
Don't Make a Show of It
Once your dog can be left alone for half an hour, you may be able to leave them alone for even longer. However, you should never make a big production out of it! Showing them excessive attention when you leave will confuse them, cause stress, and create severe separation anxiety.
Instead, simply give them a pat on the head and walk out the door. Don't use baby talk or throw your arms around them and plant big kisses on their nose until you get home. Then, you will be rewarding their patience.
Stick with a Routine
If your dog suddenly develops separation anxiety after years without it, something has probably broken its routine. Dogs are creatures of habit and any variation in their routine will cause them excessive stress. And that stress will make you, the alpha of the home, more emotionally important.
Think about any recent changes that may be upsetting your dog. Did you move to a new home? Start working a new job? Are you dating a new person or receiving visitors more often? These changes can upset your dog's routine. However, if you stick with this new routine, your dog should quickly adapt.
If you don't feel up to breaking your dog's separation anxiety alone, doggy day care can help. Doggy day care centers (like Ark Veterinary Hospital) are places where you can drop off your dog while you're at work or out of town. They're different than kennels because your dog won't be locked in a cage. Instead, they'll be out-and-about with other dogs and people.
This will give your dog the socialization and stimulation they crave from you while you are away. Gradually, they'll learn to be comfortable without your constant presence and will learn greater independence and socialization skills in the process.
The most important way you can deal with your dog's separation anxiety is to treat it with patience. Remember: your dog is behaving that way because they love you. So, keep a level head and avoid excessive punishment. It simply won't help.