Is It Possible To Fix Separation Anxiety Dogs Have?

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Can the whole block hear your dog howling from the time you leave until he hears your car returning home? Is the house torn apart every time you leave, garbages tipped clothes and shoes chewed up?

Does your fur baby display what appears to be destructive behavior any time he is left alone?   Have you mentioned the behavior to your veterinarian, it may not be destructive behavior your fur baby could have separation anxiety.

anxiety not only affects us, humans, its also a disorder that affects 20-40% of the dogs presented to veterinary behavioral specialists.

You are probably wondering what is separation anxiety in dogs like, or your wondering is it possible to fix separation anxiety dogs have?

For more severe cases there are some medical treatments to help you fix separation anxiety dogs have

Depending on the level of anxiety your fur baby has you may even be able to fix separation anxiety dogs have without medication just by trying a couple of fairly simple things at home.

If you are dealing with a brand new puppy or even a rescue to learn some valuable tips on how to prevent separation anxiety in dogs clicks HERE. It can’t always be prevented but in some cases, it definitely can be.

WHAT IS IT?

Separation anxiety in dogs is a condition where a dog experiences behavior problems and distress when his human isn’t present.

The anxiety tends to surface within minutes of the dog being separated from their human. There are a number of different ways your fur baby’s anxiety may appear.

Dogs who suffer from this disorder usually show their agony through destructive, inconvenient, and loud methods.

Instead of being seen as a cry for help dogs who suffer from separation anxiety are usually accused of getting revenge on their human for being left alone or of being spiteful some are just given up on and labeled as bad dogs.

When separation anxiety is at the root of the problem these labels are completely wrong, sadly causing many puppies and dogs to be unfairly tossed to the side of the shelter.

The amount of emotional stress your fur baby experiences when their human leaves no matter how short the absence can be very compromising to their health.

If ignored, not trying to fix separation anxiety dogs have can have a very negative impact on your dog’s health, it’s always a good idea to consult your vet about any issues big or small your fur baby may be having.

SIGNS TO WATCH FOR:

Dogs and puppies can show stress in multiple ways, there isn’t just one defining sign of separation anxiety in dogs rather, there are a number of different symptoms.

If your fur baby is only displaying one or two of the signs occasionally, chances are it’s not separation anxiety and you may have some other issue to address.

Some behaviors or symptoms to watch for when your dog or puppy is experiencing separation anxiety are:

  • HOWLING AND OR BARKING: Relentless howling and or barking for no apparent reason other than being left alone or separated from their human, if they stop every time you return there is a very good chance it’s because of separation anxiety.
  • PACING: Some dogs will nervously pace, walk, or trot along a certain path in a fixed pattern when their human leaves or they are left alone. Some dogs will go back and forth in a straight line while others may go in circular patterns. If this behavior doesn’t take place unless alone or separated from his human it may be separation anxiety.
  •  DIGGING AND CHEWING: Now when we say digging and chewing I’m not talking chewing on some shoes and digging in the ground this behavior is more like digging at the floor in the house or cement floor in a kennel and chewing is more like eating furniture or chewing at the doorknob and door frame this will happen all the time in severe cases of separation anxiety. This extreme behavior is not safe for your puppy or dog they can hurt themselves, break a tooth, cut a paw pad, or worse. If your fur baby is getting the proper amount of exercise every day and is still acting in this way when left alone then its likely separation anxiety.
  • ESCAPING: A dog with separation anxiety will try by any and all means to get out of whatever is confining them from looking for their human. This is why if left inside door frames window frames and the floors in front of the doors are usually a target. If your pooch is content and not trying to be a Houdini when he isn’t alone it’s a good idea to consider he may be experiencing separation anxiety
  • POTTY IN THE HOUSE: If you are sure your fur baby is potty trained and he only goes potty in the house if he is alone it very well might be your fur baby is dealing with separation anxiety, in some cases dogs will consume his own droppings as well. If your pooch is doing it in your presence then it probably got nothing to do with anxiety and there could be something else medically so you should talk to your vet about it.
  • SHUT DOWN: This symptom is one that a lot of people miss because if you’re only gone for 4-8 hours return home to your pooch in the same spot as when you left, of course, such a good dog but what you don’t realize is your pooch literally hasn’t moved from that spot all day. We didn’t realize how harmful it could be until we had to leave our chihuahua with a sitter for a couple of days while my husband was in the hospital. The sitter informed us that Scrappy wouldn’t eat or drink anything he only moved to go potty outside other than that he laid on the sweater I had left for him luckily it was only for two days had it been longer who knows how bad it could have ended up.

 

OTHER CAUSES TO RULE OUT:

You should rule out common behavior problems before determining your pooch has separation anxiety, it could be something much easier to fix.

It can be hard to tell if your pooch is acting up or if its separation anxiety because of the common symptoms. Below is a list of behavior problems you should consider and rule out:

  • DESTRUCTIVE CHEWING: It’s natural for dogs to want to chew its our job to direct their chewing in the right direction from the very beginning. When we caught our huskies chewing anything they shouldn’t we just gave them a toy with like the texture or similar chew potential and it has worked quite well.
  • BOREDOM: Dogs and puppies need both mental and physical stimulation and will get bored without a proper amount of both which can cause some dogs to be destructive in search of something to cure their boredom.
  • MARKING TERRITORY: Some dogs mostly male and some female dogs will urine mark inside the house especially if another dog has urine marked in the house before them.
  • EXCESSIVE BARKER: Some dogs bark over every insignificant little noise they hear or movement they see if its that your dog is an excessive barker or howler it will happen in your presence as well if its separation anxiety it won’t happen when you’re around too.
  • MEDICATIONS: There are many different medications that have involuntary urination as a side effect. If your pooch is taking any meds ask your vet about possible side effects associated with each med your fur baby takes.
  • MEDICAL:  The signs for separation anxiety are also signs of multiple medical diseases. It’s important to visit your vet for blood work and a wellness exam. Your vet is a great ally when it comes to your fur baby’s health.
  • HOUSE TRAINING: Sometimes the problem is just simply that your puppy or dog hasn’t been consistently house trained without consistency especially when it comes to house training your pooch can end up confused about where is ok to potty. If you are looking for a proven house training method that works every time click HERE. It’s the only method I know and our puppies are almost completely house trained by 8 weeks old, it makes it easier on their forever parents

WHY AND HOW DO DOGS DEVELOP SEPERATION ANXIETY?

It is still unclear as to why some dogs develop separation anxiety. There are several circumstances that are possible triggers and may cause separation anxiety in dogs to surface. Any number of traumatic experiences or major changes in a dog’s life could act as this trigger

Loss: The loss of a loved one either canine or human can stir up anxiety even a child going off to school is like a loss to your pooch

Change: Change Of Family being handed off to a different family shelter or being abandoned could be a trigger

Schedule Change: For example say you work opposite shifts so your fur baby isn’t used to being alone for more than a couple of hours at a time then suddenly you are both working the same hours and now your pooch is left alone for 8 or 9 hours a day. your fur baby could develop separation anxiety with such an abrupt change

.New Home: Moving into a new home can also trigger separation anxiety

Traumatic event: It is possible that a single traumatic event in your absence, like a big thunderstorm or your house being robbed may trigger separation anxiety in your fur baby,

The above mentioned are just a few examples of things that could possibly cause your fur baby to develop separation anxiety.

What Breeds Are Prone To Separation Anxiety?

If you haven’t yet picked out a puppy and are still in the research stage knowing what breeds are most known to have separation anxiety issues helps.

Separation anxiety seems to be more common in breeds that are known to be companion dogs or people-pleasing and a lot of rescue dogs develop it as well.

The dog breeds that show the most signs for separation anxiety are:

  • LABRADOR RETRIEVERS
  • CHIHUAHUA
  • GERMAN SHEPHERDS
  • COCKER SPANIELS
  • VIZSLA
  • BICHON FRISE

Although the above-mentioned breeds are more prone to develop separation anxiety that doesn’t mean every dog of that breed will develop it.

fix separation anxiety dogs have
Scrappy-Doo and lily too

What Breeds Are Least Likely To Develop Separation Anxiety?

Now keep in mind that just because the dog breeds I’m about to mention are more independent breeds than the above mentioned, it doesn’t mean that none of the breed’s dogs develop separation anxiety.

Some of the more independent breeds are:

  • CHOW CHOW
  • SHAR PEI
  • BOSTON TERRIER
  • BULLMASTIFF
  • FRENCH BULLDOG
  • BASSETT HOUND

If you have long hours away from home one of the breeds just mentioned will likely be a better fit for you and your home.

CAN SEPERATION ANXIETY IN DOGS BE PREVENTED?

Taking the time to train your dog to be alone and content is beneficial to your puppy or dog. Training your puppy to be alone should start ideally the day he comes home or as soon as possible for the best results.

Some puppies you will discover have no problem being alone and others may need to be trained to be alone.

To learn more about training your fur baby to be alone click HERE.

Don’t forget the THREE things that play the biggest roll in your fur baby growing into a well-rounded adult dog. they are

  1. FOOD AND WATER: Dogs, humans, pretty much anyone or animal is happiest with a full belly. Always make sure your dog is fed and watered it’s hard to be content on an empty stomach. I don’t mean you have to feed them before you leave them alone, you should have regular eating time, our dogs have food out all day and that works for them but yours may be different whatever works best for them and you.
  2. EXERCISE: A dog at any age should get some kind of physical exercise. Bigger dogs tend to need more exercise and have more energy to burn. Don’t forget to exercise your dog’s mind as well. A dog that gets all the exercise he requires is always a happier dog.
  3. SOCIALIZE: Dogs that are socialized continuously throughout their lives tend to be happier and healthier dogs. For more information on socializing your fur baby click HERE

Keep in mind that sometimes no matter what we do it isn’t always possible to prevent separation anxiety.

Is it possible to fix separation anxiety dogs have?

It is possible to fix separation anxiety dogs have, keep in mind the sooner you catch it the easier it will be to fix and some cases may already be so severe that it may take professional help.

Depending on the level of severity of your fur babies separation anxiety it can be a bit complicated, if it’s very severe you may want to work with your vet or an animal behavior specialist.

If your working with a dog that has been dealing with it for a long time it will take time but there are definitely ways to manage the separation anxiety so that your dog and house suffer less.

Even with a mild case of separation anxiety, it’s very important to remember it takes time to fix.

We all need to remember that the destructive behavior that your pooch is displaying isn’t him being spiteful or mischievous it’s coping skills for the panic and fear they are experiencing.

Disciplining your fur baby will not help his separation anxiety, if anything it will make it worse.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FIX SEPERATION ANXIETY DOGS HAVE?

Just like anything else the sooner you notice any anxiety-like behavior the better because then you can begin to fix the problem.

According to Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, the goal of treatment is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone.

TRAINING: 

Teach your puppy or dog that separation from you or time alone has its rewards.

Things like treat dispensing or releasing puzzles chew toys, and favorite toys to entertain your puppy or dog while alone will help him associate being alone with things that are good and make him happy.

You want your puppy or dog to form positive connections with new experiences,

If you haven’t already you should take the time to train your puppy or dog how to be alone, the reason for training your puppy to be alone is to teach them to enjoy the time alone.

For more on training your puppy to be alone click HERE.

COUNTER CONDITIONING: 

If you have an older dog or even if your puppy is already conditioned to get stressed because he knows you are leaving him, you can try countering that conditioned reaction by giving him one of his favorite special treats that he rarely gets.

If he gets one of his favorite treats right as or right before you leave, he could start to look forward to that moment instead of dreading it.

You will get the best results if you are consistent with the new routine.

DESENSITIZATION:

There are certain things you do as you get ready to leave that your dog relates to you leaving, so if you can desensitize him to those indications you could help reduce his stress and anxiety.

With my husky mix, Fatso, it was my shoes as soon as he heard my foot slip in my shoe he was up and at the door.

what I had to do was put my shoes on and instead of leaving I would go in the kitchen and do the dishes or laundry anything other than leave.

has to be done two or three times daily for weeks but if your patient you will start to see results.

Then there was the biggest indicator, my keys, there was no way to convince him I wasn’t leaving if he heard my keys, so I started giving him his favorite chew stick before I grabbed the keys and he began to look forward to his treat when I grabbed the keys instead of running to the door every time.

If you put these simple tricks in your routine, instead of panic, stress, and anxiety your pooch may start to look forward to getting his special treat when you grab your keys to leave.

When dealing with separation anxiety dogs have it can be quite trying so patience is a must and for the best outcome it’s best to work with a behavior specialist especially if your pooch has been dealing with it for a long time.

CALMING AIDS: You may also want to try a calming aid they have dog treats that are calming, a good one that comes to mind is Zesty Paws stress and anxiety bites.  CBD oil might help treat stress and anxiety as well.

MEDICATIONS: If you are working with your vet or behavior specialist they will guide you through and will know what meds to prescribe if any. I personally would definitely try all other methods and fixes before considering medication for your dog’s separation anxiety

Are There Any Helpful Tools?

  • Make leaving and returning uneventful like you are just going or coming from the kitchen or any other room in the house.
  • Leave music or tv on like it would be if you were home
  • create a safe place with a dog bed and a blanket or a shirt with your scent for them to lie with.
  • Interactive toys help to entertain while you are away
  • A remote treat dispensing dog cam is a great way to monitor your pooches activity while away they have cameras that you can communicate with your dog and dispense treats to them all from your desk at work.
  • A doggy daycare or a dog walker are both good options if you have to be gone for longer than a few hours. The only time my husband and I are both gone longer than a couple of hours is when we go out of town to see the kids and we pay a friend to sit at our home with our fur babies while we are gone.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

So is it possible to fix separation anxiety dogs have? Yes, it is possible to fix separation anxiety dogs have for most cases.

There are many levels of separation anxiety and many different methods to use in the battle against it the biggest thing to remember is that it will take a lot of patience, consistency, and time.

Even for the cases that have had separation anxiety for years at the very least can get to be manageable if not completely fixed.

You of course have better odds to fix separation anxiety dogs have if you are working with a vet or behavior specialist, they can better guide you through the best path for your pooch.

Have you already experienced separation anxiety with your fur baby and how did you fix it? How did you figure out your pooch was dealing with separation anxiety? Any advice for dealing with your fur baby’s separation anxiety?

If you have or even if you are still trying to fix separation anxiety dogs have please share your experience in comments below, your experience may help another’s experience seem less hopeless.

Wishing you and your fur babies health and happiness

 

 

 

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