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Dog owners commonly complain of their dogs engaging in destructive behavior when left alone. Such activities can include barking, chewing, urination, defecating, and digging. When addressing the condition, it is vital to teach the dog to tolerate being left alone.
This problem seems to impact more on the dogs adopted from shelters than those raised by one family since puppyhood.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is used to describe dogs that are very dependent on their owners or other family members. The pet will become anxious when separated from these individuals, and they will engage in distressing behavior.
Signs can be mild and might be short-lived, but some dogs might exhibit extreme distress. Dogs with this condition can follow their owners around rather than spend time outdoors alone. The dog will become excited once their owner returns home.
It can be triggered by a change of family or residence or an abrupt change in the pet’s schedule or an adjustment in household membership.
Does Your Dog Suffer of Separation Anxiety?
You can observe your pet for the following signs of separation anxiety:
It is normal for your dog to want to be at your side, but they should also maintain a degree of independence. If your pet starts following you everywhere like a puppy dog, however, they may be having separation anxiety. Additionally, the dog may start crying or barking and want to be on top of you at all times.
Excessive howling or barking
A dog dealing with separation anxiety may bark excessively through the day, and if you are at work, you may receive complaints from your neighbors. You can also listen for yelps on the other side of the door when you are leaving. Although occasional barks are normal, relentless barking may point to something more serious.
Accidents and destruction
If you are coming home to a messy house, your pet may be going through separation anxiety. Your dog may be moving your furniture, knocking pillows off the couch, or chewing on items like shoes. Other dogs will scent-mark your house with urine or feces even if they are potty trained.
Repetitive pacing in similar patterns or frantic pacing is another sign of separation anxiety. Anxiety can, however, be caused by long periods of confinement and can cause the dog to destroy barriers in an attempt to escape.
Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Dogs
To tackle separation anxiety in your pet, you can engage in:
Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning
You can desensitize your dog to the signs that you are preparing to leave. Your dog’s anxiety may be triggered by picking up your keys or putting on your coat because they are used to seeing you do that before you leave.
You can thus do these pre-departure activities and then sit down to read a book or watch television. Doing the opposite of what your pet expects will reduce their anxiety, and they will not be distressed when they see the signs.
Another strategy to deal with separation anxiety is engaging in short departures. Your absences need to be shorter than the time it normally takes your pet to show destructive behavior.
You can leave them in a room by using commands like “stay” and then take some time on the opposite side of the door. You can also use the back door if you normally use the front door.
The absences can be seconds-long to start, as you gradually work towards increasing the duration.
You can also throw a treat before leaving. It is vital that your dog is relaxed in between the absences as you may trigger their anxiety if you leave a few minutes after getting home.
The length of every separation will be informed by your dog’s behavior, as each dog reacts differently to timelines. If you observe any signs of distress, work on shortening the absences.
Develop a Special Area for Relaxation
Pet owners are commonly concerned if they should crate dogs suffering from separation anxiety. You can isolate a location where you can teach your dog to play, nap, or rest. To start, lead the dog to the surface and encourage longer stays and relaxed responses by using rewards.
You can use a barricade to restrain the pet in the area before they are released. Do not leave the dog in the crate for too long, to avoid triggering their anxiety. Create a routine around the area, where the dog learns to nap and play with toys.
Only give the pet rewards while they are in this location. You can include items that signal your presence like clothing with your scent. Additionally, provide the pet with a comfortable bed to encourage relaxation.
Observe the pet’s behavior while they are in the pen as not all dogs appreciate being confined to a room.
Buy Toys to Keep Dog Busy
Stimulating toys will keep the dog engaged, and you can use them to channel your dog’s nervous energy more productively. Toys are effective and cheap, and they are available in pet stores.
Pet owners use a range of toys, including puzzles, bully sticks, and chew bones. They should not be overly-complicated, and even something as simple as a stuffed animal will keep them engaged. Some pet owners even hide some toys around the house so that their pet is left looking for them all day.
There are tons of exciting toys for your pet, including this Kong Classic dog toy. It is ideal for stuffing with treats, and it will keep your dog engaged until you go back home. Put something that your dog highly values, like peanut butter.
You can get a large one if your dog is small so that they have an easy time getting the treat out. Reduce the sizes as they get bigger. By increasing the level of difficulty, your dog’s attention will be constantly directed at the toy and not at your absence.
Use Anxiety Relief Hemp Oil
Hemp oil is commonly used as an anxiety-relief in dogs.
This hemp oil from Kinpur is packed with impressive properties to relieve stress in your pet. The proprietary extraction process used ensures that you only get the purest hemp oil with a full-plant profile.
Your pet will, therefore, be protected from toxins or by-products. The oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6.
The oil easily blends with pet food and treats so it will be convenient to add it into your dog’s diet. Refrain from cooking food mixed with the oil or adding it to chicken or chicken products.
Hemp oil addresses arthritis thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. It will thus boost your pet’s agility and mobility, and it also addresses skin conditions like cracked paws, dandruff, and allergies.
The oil is also recommended in alleviating distress and anxiety. It works by interacting with the mood-regulating system of the dog, and it will relieve restlessness in your pet. Hemp oil is also reputed in boosting appetite and metabolism. It will also keep digestive problems like indigestion and vomiting at bay.
Get a Pet Camera
When it comes to pet cameras, you cannot go wrong with the Furbo dog camera, which comes packed with convenient and functional features.
It is fitted with a 1080p full-HD camera in addition to night vision. You will get a 160-degree wide-angle view during the day and at night. To set up, you only need to download the Furbo app and link to your home wifi.
The camera is conveniently built with a two-way audio and barking alert. The barking sensor will send push notifications to your phone when your dog is barking, and you can talk to them into relaxing using the app.
It will also alert you on any dog movements like your pet chewing on items and nudging furniture. The camera will especially come in handy if you are monitoring your dog for signs of separation anxiety. It will additionally notify you when the dog is looking at the camera or when another person comes into view. These real-time alerts will give you peace of mind.
There is also a fun-treat tossing feature, with which you can toss treats to your pet using the Furbo app. You can load it with more than 100 of the treats that your dog values the most and play a game of catch.
It is best to use round-shaped treats with a diameter of 0.4 inches. A doggie diary will store highlights of your pet’s day in 60 seconds which you can download and save to watch later.
Spend More Time with Your Dog
Spending interactive sessions with your dog will help alleviate their anxiety. Take a walk with your dog and engage them in age-appropriate exercises to provide mental and physical stimulation.
A tired and satisfied dog who has just played around with you will be less stressed when you leave. You can use puzzle toys and engage in cognitive games with your pet.
Most dogs go through levels of separation anxiety with their owners and other household members. Some pets will use destructive behavior and vocalization to channel their distress.
You may, for example, come home to find that they have urinated around their house, despite them being potty-trained. Thankfully, you can address it with training, toys, hemp oil, exercise, and pet cameras.