How to avoid separation issues
Helpful hints & tips for dog ownership…
Separation anxiety is diagnosed in around 10% of behavioural cases. This disorder may manifest due to genetics or a species predisposition but is often caused at the early learning stage and by owner behaviour. Dogs are a social animal that rely on the others for individual protection by safety in numbers. Dogs are more likely to exhibit behaviours related to separation anxiety when they are left alone, if they lack confidence due to under socialisation or mistreatment in the past, or if they do not understand what their owners expect from them.
When left alone, most dogs find a familiar spot to sleep in and curl up. A dog suffering from separation anxiety will become extremely agitated, exhibiting behaviours such as chewing, barking, salivating, urinating, defecating, vomiting or trying to escape by chewing through walls, scratching doors or breaking out of cages.
- Establish Your Leadership
When a dog recognizes that you take control and are in charge, it has a calming effect on him. He feels safe and secure. Make sure your dog is following our leadership guidance to re-address the authority in the home, it is equivalent to being a good parent.
- Plan Your Exit
When it is time to leave, just leave. Do not say “Good bye” to your dog with excessive attention. Ignore your dog for five minutes before you go. Paying too much attention will make your dog feel more insecure when the attention is abruptly withdrawn. Practise lots of brief separations before leaving your dog for a longer period such as 2 hours.
- Leave a Distraction
To alleviate boredom prepare a toy or bone to leave with your dog. Toys such as Kongs can be filled with food such as cheese, carrots, liver or other things your dog really likes. Keep it hidden and give it to him when you leave each day. Hopefully, your dog will like the toy so much that it becomes a good substitute for you!
- Leave the Radio On
Leave a radio on as company in the room with your dog. The dog will hear voices which may have a calming affect on behaviour.
- Consider the use of a crate
In addition to the above counter-conditioning techniques, you could consider confining your dog in a crate while you are out or for overnight separations. A crate or cage has two positive attributes. Firstly, a dog who is confined to a cage cannot do damage to your home. Secondly, a crate, when properly introduced, will act as a safe, comfortable den where the dog can relax. Limiting his movement also acts as an anxiety reducer for most dogs. Introduce your dog to a cage in stages. Start by encouraging your dog into the cage while you are in the room, shut the door for a few minutes then open it again. When you are leaving the house for short periods shut him in the cage, don’t leave him shut in a cage for anything more than 3 hours. Dogs associate a cage with a secure den.
- Exercise Your Dog
A dog that is lacking exercise is more likely to suffer stress and tension. Tiring a dog out with a long walk or run, or with play, goes a long way to reducing stress.
We can help with any training issues. Just call us and we will happily arrange a 1-to-1 consultation!