Are you a dog owner? Does your pet often tremble, drool, and scratch excessively every time you come home? These and many other kinds of odd behavior can be signs that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
It is a common behavioral disorder that affects dogs everywhere. Interestingly, around 40% of dogs that visit veterinary behavioral specialists suffer from a separation anxiety disorder. The problem with this disorder is that sometimes, the symptoms become hard to control.
Not only does it affect the dog itself but also the owner and the rest of the household. Thus, you need to learn how to manage separation anxiety in dogs.
Continue reading below as we guide you in dealing with your pet’s separation anxiety disorder.
Rule Out Other Possible Reasons
One of the first steps to managing puppy separation anxiety is to rule out other possible reasons for your pet’s behavior. The first ones to rule out are medical problems.
One of the symptoms of separation anxiety is peeing inside the house. However, incontinence can also cause dogs to void their bladder while being unaware of it. There are many possible reasons behind incontinence in dogs.
It can be a urinary tract infection or hormone-related problems. Sometimes, serious diseases like kidney stones and diabetes can also cause incontinence.
Is your dog under any medications? If so, certain medicines can also cause symptoms similar to those of separation anxiety. Thus, it is best to consult with your veterinarian regarding your pet’s medication and symptoms.
Also, there are non-medical factors you need to rule out. If he’s urinating in different areas, perhaps you don’t have a urine marker, to begin with. Create one outside your home and train your puppy to urinate on the marker.
If you have yet to give your dog complete house training, it can also be the reason behind his behavior. Sometimes, lack of training or inconsistency can lead to behavioral problems.
In case your dog barks or howls excessively, scan the environment for possible triggers. It can be unfamiliar lights and sounds that your puppy is noticing.
Treating Minor Separation Anxiety
Once you confirm that your pet does suffer from separation anxiety, then it’s time to treat the matter. However, you need to determine the nature of the separation anxiety disorder. It can be a minor case or a moderate to severe case.
Regardless of the severity of the anxiety, your main goal is to remove it whenever he feels alone. When dealing with moderate anxiety, you can start by calming the way you leave the house. Do the same thing every time you come home.
One of the best ways to do so is by saying a quick goodbye or hello to your pet. Greeting your dog sends the message that leaving is a big deal for you. Also, come up with a word or action that assures your pet that you will be back later in the day.
If this doesn’t work for your pet, you can try ignoring him. Whenever you leave and arrive, ignore your pet for a few minutes. Thereafter, call his attention and pet him.
How often do you exercise your dog? Keeping them active throughout the day and tiring them is one of the best ways for reducing anxiety. Playing catch in the backyard or taking your pet for a long walk in the morning is a good habit to start.
You may also consider using an OTC calming product. You can find products in your local pet depot that will help reduce your dog’s anxiety.
Dealing With Moderate to Severe Cases
Meanwhile, if your dog is suffering from a moderate to severe case of separation anxiety, you will need a more complex approach. You will have to implement a deeper level of desensitization and counterconditioning.
For starters, you need to gradually transition your pet to be alone. You can do this by creating short separations throughout the day. From there, increase the duration over the next several weeks.
Also, when giving commands to your puppy, do so through positive reinforcement. Train them to follow “down-stay” and “sit-stay” commands.
You should also ensure that the spaces your pet moves around are safe. If you’re going to confine your dog, make sure to confine them loosely. This means keeping them in a room full of doggy toys and an open window.
When it comes to their toys, make sure to contain the busy ones for distraction. Also, leaving them one of your clothes you wore hours ago can help.
You should also be open to the idea of using certain medications and natural supplements. Your vet may recommend medications like amitriptyline to manage depression.
Another is alprazolam, which is perfect for pets that have regular bouts with anxiety. On the more natural side, cannabidiol or CBD is a great option for pets with separation anxiety.
Things to Avoid
Last but not least, there are certain things you need to avoid when managing your puppy’s condition. Firstly, don’t punish your pet for his behavior. Not only is it ineffective, but it can also worsen the situation.
You also don’t want to crate or cage your puppy. They will continue to bite, chew, pee, and defecate inside the cage. Moreover, they will likely use their strength and attempt to get out of the cage.
If you have a radio or TV nearby, don’t leave them open. The noises from these things can scare your pet and increase their anxiety.
Lastly, don’t buy a new dog to give the other one a companion. Keep in mind that it is your separation from your pet that is causing the anxiety.
Become the Best Pet Owner You Can Be
By learning how to manage your dog’s separation anxiety, you can gradually reduce its symptoms while building your pet’s confidence along the way. However, you will encounter many other challenges as a pet owner.
We invite you to read our other articles on pets. We discuss topics that will help you become the best pet owner you can be.