When pet owners decide to take a dog, they don’t always think about the time it costs to have one. One of the critical behavioural problems in dogs is separation anxiety.
We can make a distinction between dogs with genuine separation anxiety and dogs that cannot be at home alone. Dogs with separation anxiety often can’t be home alone, but that’s not to say that all dogs who can’t stay at home are anxious.
Fear of abandonment is not only an impairment of the well-being of the dog, but this problem can also cause annoying situations for the owner.
Causes of separation anxiety in dogs
Many different conditions can cause a dog to develop separation anxiety. Often dogs that have been (repeatedly) relocated or have been in a shelter for a while have anxiety. Even when a dog is very dependent on the owner and insecure, this welfare problem lurks.
Finally, separation anxiety can develop when a dog has had a traumatic experience while at home alone.
Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs
The dog’s behaviour depends on the severity of the fear. Some dogs squeak and bark when the boss is away, causing trouble with the neighbours.
Sometimes they are also extremely restless, run back and forth, and therefore urinate or defecate in the house. In many cases, the dog indeed calms down quite quickly when he hears the owner come home.
Then it seems as if there are no problems, but nothing could be further from the truth! The opposite can also be the case: it is noticeable that the dog is exceptionally enthusiastic when the owner returns home.
Departure & homecoming
It is essential to leave and come home as calmly as possible. In either case, try not to pay attention to the dog so that you are showing that leaving and returning home is completely normal.
For example, if you hug the dog extensively shortly before departure, it may get the idea that something special is about to happen. Also, it is essential to give the dog a few departure signals as possible.
Leaving a radio on can be a good idea, turning the radio on every time you leave home can become a departure signal for the dog. In the long run, it will become restless when you walk to the radio!
Try to make sure the dog is in a calm state of mind before you leave. If the dog is restless at the time of departure, this will certainly not improve if you are away from home.
Finally, the dog must be walked well before leaving. Preferably, you do some exercises or play a game before you go. A tired dog is more likely to lie quietly.
How can separation anxiety in dogs be tackled?
These kinds of behavioural problems are not easy to solve, primarily because the problem behaviour occurs when the boss is not present. It is impossible to intervene at the moment. Several aspects need to be addressed.
For example, the dog must be trained to initially ensure that the dog experiences its environment (the home) as familiar.
You must return home before the dog becomes anxious or stressed. When the dog is in your vicinity, you should provide clear and consistent leadership so that the dog learns to trust you.
Box training for separation
The box can be a handy tool for anxiety. Sometimes an ample space such as a living room or kitchen for a dog is too cluttered, which contributes to the stress situation.
A box can then give the dog a much safer feeling. An absolute requirement is that the dog is used to a box and sees it as a trusted resting place!
When a dog is kept busy, there is less room for the stress situation to arise.
Also, the dog can eventually associate staying home alone with something positive. The best way to distract a dog is with food. You must, of course, make sure that the dog has not just been fed but rewarded.
In addition, it can help to give the dog something delicious that he usually does not get, something exclusive. See this as ice cream for your child.