Did you ever notice your furry friend going into a frenzy when you pick up your keys to leave the house? Have your neighbors complained about constant barking or whining while you were away? Chances are your dog is experiencing a kind of distress called separation anxiety.
Here’s how to recognize if you dog suffers from separation anxiety and what you can do to help him.
What is separation anxiety in dogs?
Being the social animals that they are, dogs simply don’t like it when the pack is divided, especially if that means they’ll have to spend several hours by themselves. Separation anxiety is a common behavioral problem that affects 14 to 35% of dogs. It jumps up to 29 to 50% when we’re talking of senior dogs.
The insecurity, agitation, and panic that characterize separation anxiety can be triggered by a change of routine or environment, such as a move, the introduction of a new pack member (a pet or a newborn child) or a change in your working hours. Dogs that have spent a large amount of time in unfamiliar surroundings – at a vet, in a boarding kennel or at a rescue facility – are also more prone to experience separation anxiety.
These are the most common ways in which separation anxiety manifests in dogs:
- Excessive salivation
- Destroying items in the home
- Scratching (at walls, furniture, floor, etc.)
- Attempting to escape
- Soiling the house
Things you can do to alleviate separation anxiety in your dog
Destructive behaviors in dogs are usually the result of stress, including the stress of separation and isolation. Here are some ways you can help your pooch feel more at ease and confident when you leave the house.
Desensitize your dog to departures through obedience training and discipline
The first step in modifying a dog’s behavior is changing the negative associations surrounding departures. Stay calm and composed when you leave or arrive. Through obedience training, gradually accustom him to longer and longer absences. Only reward patience and calmness.
Provide stimulation to reduce boredom
A busy dog is a happy dog. By providing stimulation, you distract your pup from the anxiety of loneliness. Leave the TV on, provide him with a new toy or stuff a hollow toy with treats to occupy him during the long hours. There’s an array of toys out there designed specifically to keep them mentally active at home.
Exercise your dog well before leaving
Just as is true with humans, a good exercise session does wonders to calm a dog’s anxious mind- just make sure you leave 20 to 30 minutes to your dog to settle down from the excitement before you go.
Get your dog a friend
You needed a reason to convince your spouse to adopt a second dog? Here’s one: interacting with another member of the pack (if it’s a stable companion) will help relieve the stress of separation anxiety. The good news is that dogs do not discriminate on species. Cats, goats, and even robots, such as Kolony’s Mia, can fill that gap.
Finally, when witnessing symptoms of anxiety in your dog, remember that he is in a state of suffering. Instead of brushing it off or feeling annoyed, try to address the issue proactively. This way, you will make your home a happy place, even when you are not there.
MEET MIA, YOUR DOG NEW FRIEND
MIA is an autonomous robot that entertains your dog and even dispenses treats! MIA will reduce your dog’s separation anxiety and barking, increase its exercise level and make its day more fun!