Our dogs Rosie and Focus get nervous and anxious when the green suitcase comes out of the closet. They know that there is going to be travel involved, and probably not the kind they are going to enjoy!
They have learned that one of two scenarios is about to take place;
- The humans are going on a fun trip and they will get to ride along and take mini breaks along the way to smell the rest areas and get treats.
- The humans are going on a fun trip and the dogs are not going but are staying home with a pet sitter who comes in a couple of times a day to feed them and make them go outside to do their business.
They only relax when we open the car door for them and invite them to come along with us. The minute the car door slams and the seatbelts click, they each breathe a big sigh and go right to sleep.
Anxious and Nervous about Being Separated
Anxiety in a dog is a very frustrating condition to deal with, and although it is flattering to feel that your dog loves having you around, it is a very difficult and traumatic way for a dog to live. Dogs that are separated from their owners will start displaying destructive behaviors such as chewing, barking, and digging.
Symptoms of dog anxiety:
Any pet that has had a bout of anxiety for more than a few days should be examined by a veterinarian, and the veterinarian can look for potential underlying causes. They will ask about the symptoms your dog is having, such as:
- excessive vocalization, neediness, or clinginess
- fear of being alone
- trembling, hypersensitivity to noise, and other stimuli.
- increased aggression
In many cases dogs may be aggressive when there become anxious which can be dangerous to their owners.
Genetics as a contributing factor
Some dog breeds are more prone to anxiety problems because they have it in their genes. It is often seen in breeds including Great Danes, German short-haired pointers, German shepherds, bull terriers, Jack Russell terriers, Dalmatians, and basset hounds.
Dog anxiety which leads to unintentional aggression is one of the top reasons as to why owners give up their pets, it is important to understand why it is happening and how to treat it effectively.
Treating dog anxiety
Anxiety can be dealt with as long as the underlying source is known. If you can pinpoint the stressor, you can work to either remove the stressor altogether or use behavior modifications and training to help your dog adjust to whatever is causing them stress. Also, help from a professional trainer or animal behaviorist is often beneficial.
Keeping your dog healthy can help to ease anxiety as well, make sure they have a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. When it comes to treating anxiety, training slowly is important. If you train too quickly, that may simply increase the anxiety and negative behaviors.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, here are nine tips to help dogs that are anxious and nervous. We have used these techniques to help Rosie and Focus know that even if we leave them for a short time, we will be back soon.
Nine Tips To Help Calm Anxiety
- Pretend to Go Out
Pretending to go out and shutting the door behind you and returning after a few seconds will help accustom your dog to your absence. Keep doing this several times but remember to stay out for a few seconds at a time. After a few days of doing this, you can gradually increase the time spent out by a few seconds.
- Crate Train Your Dog
The majority of dogs like crates as they are den animals and the crate functions as a den of sorts for many dogs. They enjoy the safety and comfort of their crate and will enjoy taking a nap or some quiet time in it.
Providing a dog that suffers from separation anxiety with a create may help them feel more comfortable and secure but never close the door while they’re in the crate or they may panic which will increase the anxiety.
Place some chews and toys in the crate to keep him busy and include an old t-shirt of yours to provide them with your scent as that may help calm them.
Because we did not start with crates, we assumed we could not crate at a later date. Our veterinarian told us that it is still a viable training method even for older dogs.
- Keep the Radio On
As dogs are pack animals, they don’t like being alone. Social animals such as dogs become nervous or anxious when alone and leaving the radio on may help the dog feel less alone. Keep the volume at a reasonable level so when the radio program turns to an advertisement your dog isn’t scared out of his wits with an increase in volume. Playing soothing music may also help your dog to relax.
- Don’t administer harsh punishments
Physical punishment doesn’t work and, in some instances, may aggravate the problem more. This is because your dog is not “acting out” to upset you. They are experiencing stress and anxiety and they need to be properly trained how to deal with those anxious feelings.
- Don’t ignore the problem
The symptoms of dog separation anxiety won’t go away. In fact, they seem to get progressively worse as the dog matures, so it is better to nip the behavior in the bud before it becomes even more problematic.
So if you notice that your puppy is experiencing dog separation anxiety symptoms, don’t ignore them. Instead, star treating them now.
- Develop an individualized program for your dog
There are numerous behavior modification training programs specifically for dogs with dog separation anxiety, and _ this condition affects dogs differently, a one size fits all approach doesn’t work.
Instead you have to develop a particular program that takes into consideration your dog’s age, breed, anxiety tolerance level, motivational triggers, etc. Also, you may have to utilize anti-anxiety medications combined with behavior modification therapies for maximum benefits, depending on the severity of the issue.
- Engage in basic dog obedience training and don’t spoil her.
That is, don’t give your dog too much attention when you’re home. Instead, encourage them to play by themselves as much as possible and administer praise when they do. For instance, if you want to give them a treat then make them do a command like sit before you give it to them. This establishes you as the pack leader and ensures that they understand their place as the lower pack member.
- Don’t make leaving your dog a big deal
Don’t sit there waving to them for hours and don’t tell her goodbye a hundred times. Simply exercise them before you leave, give them a special treat, and then leave without making a fuss. Then, when you come home, keep it low key as well. This will demonstrate that your leaving is not a bad thing and is something that just happens. One great trick is to act like you’re leaving and then not go anywhere to get them used to being left alone.
- Get a PetCube
The Petcube Camera is an interactive pet camera that lets you watch, talk and play with your
animals when you are away from home. You use your smartphone to connect with the camera.
It is an amazing device that is connected to an interactive laser toy and your pets can hear your voice and enjoy regular playtime and exercise. We first saw this at the Super Zoo Pet Show in Las Vegas last year and our pets love it and so do we.
PS: We are confident that you want the best for your fur-family and are grateful that you are a part of our “pack” of kind, thoughtful people who want respect for all creatures. Be sure to sign up to receive your free book and invitations to upcoming events.
Judy Helm Wright, Author, Influencer & Intuitive Wise Woman
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