Dogs & Separation Anxiety

Dogs & Separation Anxiety

Dogs Separation AnxietyDogs are social animals. That’s why we love ‘em! They’re genetically predisposed to prefer life with a canine group, although they’ll more readily accept humans as an alternate group than most other species.
There are two categories of separation anxiety. Most dogs fall in to the first “normal” category. If your dog is exhibiting more extreme symptoms than what you see below, please read this section completely first, and then go to our Severe Separation Anxiety page.

Normal / Instinctual Separation Anxiety

Dog/puppy chews furniture or other household items when left alone. Furniture or items may be completely destroyed in many normal anxiety cases.
Dog/puppy urinates or defecates in the house when left alone.
Dog/puppy whines, barks, paces, or pants when left alone.
Dog/puppy paws at crate or door, leaving scratch marks, when left alone.
Dog/puppy follows owner around house and cries when owner needs to shut a door (ex., to take a shower, or to fetch something from the car or garden) for a short period of time.

If this list describes the issues that you are having, you must start immediate work on Chew training and House Training. You also need to make a few additional modifications in your daily household setup and routine in order to solve this problem once and for all, and to avoid severe anxiety developing as your dog ages.

That said, this level of separation anxiety can be reduced and certainly eliminated with your help. In other words, as long as you take the time to guide your dog and help him gain confidence while alone, you can breathe a sigh of relief!

First and Foremost

If your dog is chewing, go immediately to our Chew Training page and follow those directions. No, really. You may think that you have properly taught him what’s not OK to chew, but you very likely need some more pointers and more practise. Go read it. You’ll be glad you did.
If your dog is urinating or defecating in the house, go immediately to our House Training page and follow those directions. Again, you may think that you have fully house trained your dog, but you probably haven’t. Sorry, but skipping this section = cheating your dog and setting him up for a miserable life.

Do These Next Things No Matter What

Even if your dog is NOT doing any of points 3-5 above (and certainly if he is), a good dog owner will take the following steps to avoid the development of severe separation anxiety in the future. These steps will also eliminate points 3-5 above.

If he’s living in a cage or crate for more than 4 hours per day, throw it out and house train and chew train him.
Teach him to Stay (start with ridiculously easy stays and gradually increase time, distance and distraction), and practise short Stays around the house. As you get better, start to incorporate short and long time and distance Stays including visual blockages and shut doors in between you and the dog.
Do not respond in any way to whining or barking. Don’t even look at him. Especially in dogs under 1 year old, barking or whining will stop if it is not reinforced by attention.

Vigorous Daily Exercise

Exercise your dog vigorously every single day. Vigorous exercise means very fast walking, or full-on running. If you can’t do this, or don’t have the time or inclination, bring him to doggy daycare at least 2-3x/week or hire a dog walker for the following age group designations.

Age 3 – 6 months minimum 120 minutes daily, broken in to 4+ segments.
Age 6 -12 months: Minimum 3 hours daily, broken into 2-3 segments.
Age 1-3 years: Minimum 4 hours daily, all at once or broken into segments.
Age 3-6 years: 2-4 hours daily.
Age 6+ years: 1-2 hours daily.

Low-Key Greetings and Departures

Keep your hello’s and goodbye’s very low key, or better yet, simply ignore your dog or puppy for the first 5 minutes after your arrival or prior to your departure. Yes, we know this is very difficult, but you may not make any big fuss at the door, anymore, ever! (Give him all the attention and love you want AFTER 5 minutes has passed, please!)

Your dog mirrors your emotional displays, and takes them much more seriously than you do. He will allow them to become part of his emotional routine. Dogs have incredible internal clocks too. If every day at 5pm you make a big to-do out of your arrival home, your dog will anticipate this emotional charge every day at 5pm.

If one day you’re late for whatever reason, he can very easily start chewing at the door – his attempt to stay in the routine you created. Don’t do it. And don’t let children do it either.

Zara’s Doggy Daycare take care of all your dog day care needs in many locations throughout Surrey. We have a specially constructed property to look after your dogs every need while you are away.

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