Confidence Building: The Solution to Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

The love we share with our canines is a wondrous thing. But creating an overwhelming need for attention is a recipe for misbehavior when we must leave our pets at home alone. Seeking a simple solution that may help with your pet’s separation anxiety? Read on.

I haven’t featured a pet based post recently, but in view of a friend’s recent experience, I decided it was my duty, as an experienced pet owner, long-time obedience trial competitor, certified dog groomer, to impart a bit of advice concerning a problem which causes property damage and emotional distress for owners, threats of eviction for pets in rental homes and apartments.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Some symptoms listed by a FETCH by WebMD post, exhibited by dogs suffering separation anxiety include, but are not limited to:

  • Obsessive pacing
  • Drooling
  • Excessive howling, barking or whining
  • Having accidents when owners are away for a short time, although housebroken
  • Chewing, digging, scratching
  • Panting for no apparent reason
  • Frantically trying to escape via windows or doors

Contributing Factors Resulting in Separation Anxiety Symptoms

Does your dog freak out when you leave? – asks this Humane Society of the United States Post. The article goes on to list some of the potential reasons pets become anxious when their people are away from the house.

Generally, theses “canine panic attacks” can be caused by one or more of a few general issues.

Previous Experiences

A traumatic background – like being sent to a shelter after having a home – one or more times.

A change in routine of a loving family member – as when a pet was adopted by someone working from home who then returned to a conventional position requiring long hours away each day.

Altered family structure following an event like a death, divorce, a child leaving for college or marrying and moving out.

Owner Over-attachment

Dogs are very intuitive regarding their owners feelings, though sometimes feelings can be misinterpreted. An owner who lavishes constant affection on a pet when at home, and is overly demonstrative when leaving the house is setting up a typical scenario which can result in separation anxiety.

Genetic Predisposition

Some pets are simply more prone to separation anxiety due to inherited temperament.

Creating an Independent and Confident Pet

Various specific techniques and actions can be employed for each individual situation, but generally speaking confidence and a stable environment are most important in preventing and correcting separation anxiety issues:

Inspiring confidence in your pet

Enroll your dog in an ethical training class. Learn how to work your canine; the best ways to offer correction and praise.

Pets who must follow guidelines, who know what is expected of them, who experience consistent praise and support for proper behavior feel more confident and secure, they are better able to spend time alone without worrying when their humans will come home.

(Of course setting up the proper environment when you leave is important too. Pet proof an area and leave a few safe toys for mental stimulation.)

Minimize Emotional Highs and Lows

Don’t make a big deal of greeting your pet when you leave and arrive. Be positive, but treat the times as a normal part of every day. You are not leaving forever, just a few hours. Don’t make your pet feel you are upset. Don’t act like you’ve been gone for years when you enter the house after work.

Being aware of how our own behavior appears to our pets is a major factor for preventing separation anxiety and other behavior problems. Need more help in solving your dog’s behavior issues? Contact a certified trainer or canine behavior specialist who utilizes positive reinforcement methods.

Memories of Maxwell – and All the Dogs of My Life

I used to be a dog person. In recent years, I’ve gone to the cats.  Never thought it would happen to me, but cats are simply an easier fit with the style of my life these days.

I miss training and showing in obedience trials. The shelties were so intuitive, the beagles great fun to work with too, in spite of their distractable demeanor. But I must admit, winter is easier with felines. They don’t have to be taken outside into the snow three or more times per day.

Pictured is Maxwell, who loved the lake like I do. I remember this beautiful day in September though I can’t immediately recall the year. The little town on the lake held a delightful festival, centered upon canines and other four legged friends.

Max would have made a wonderful therapy dog. He loved all creatures except for horses. And everyone except those who rode bicycles. A wonderful find from a local shelter, Max completed the first two levels of obedience titles with ease, and filled our lives with love and lighthearted moments for sixteen and a half years.