My dog is not left alone at home! Dog Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety, or anxiety disorder (also called "Anxiety of parting") - one of the most commonbehavior problems in dogs. And, unfortunately, adjusting it is not very easy. Owners complain that the dog howls when it’s alone at home, barks, left alone, leaves puddles and heaps, spoils things ... Why is separation anxiety in dogs and can a pet cope with this problem?
What is separation anxiety in dogs and how is it manifested?
Anxiety disorder, or separation anxiety in dogs, is a rather complex disease. Dogs suffering from it can hardly stay alone at home, and this creates problems not only for themselves, but also for the owners (as well as for the neighbors).
Most often, anxiety disorder can be diagnosed by three criteria:
- The dog howls, sometimes whimpers and / or barks when alone at home.
- Destructive behavior (damage to property).
- Lack of cleanliness (piles and puddles in the absence of owners).
To diagnose anxiety disorder in a dog, at least two components must be available.
It is important for the owner to remember that separation anxiety is not “harmful”, but a disease that needs to be treated. Some owners are so annoyed by the dog’s behavior that they frustrate it, but this only exacerbates the problem.The dog cannot deal with anxiety itself and cannot control this behavior.
Do not confuse anxiety disorder (separation anxiety) with other problems, for example, involuntary training, when the owners, without realizing it, reinforce howling dogs, or with boredom.
To understand why the dog whimpers or howls, left alone, it is worth installing a video camera. Separation anxiety can additionally be indicated by dog anxiety, excessive salivation, vomiting, sometimes diarrhea and / or self-injury (for example, the dog bites itself).
Why does separation anxiety develop in a dog?
There are several hypotheses regarding the causes of separation anxiety in dogs:
- Violation of attachment. A dog with an unsafe type of affection is constantly on the alert and feels an insurmountable need to shadow follow the owner, very nervous, left alone.
- Anxiety disorder is a manifestation of phobia. For example, studies show that half of dogs with separation anxiety also suffer from noise phobias (fear of loud noises).
- Theory of stress. Adherents of this theory believe that distress should be treated, and no matter what its cause.
How to help a dog cope with separation anxiety and how to train a dog to stay at home?
There are several ways to train your dog to stay at home and deal with anxiety:
- First of all, it is necessary to create quality living conditions for the dog. A dog simply cannot behave normally under abnormal conditions.If you do not provide the pet with five freedoms necessary for a normal life, any correction of behavior is doomed to failure in advance.
- Use relaxation protocols to teach your dog to relax first in a relaxed environment, then in the presence of irritants.
- Gradually train the dog to remain alone - first in a separate room with an open door, then - with a closed door, then - in an apartment. There are special exercises that help to train the dog to remain calm alone. You can contact a dog behavior consultant to help you find the right method for you.
- The veterinarian can pick up medications for the dog to help deal with the problem. But in no case do not self-medicate!
In no case do not punish the dog! Punishment only reinforces anxiety, which means exacerbate the problem.
If the dog cannot remain alone at home precisely because of the anxiety disorder, you will have to be patient: solving this problem requires a lot of time. Some owners find it easier to change the dog’s living conditions so that she doesn’t suffer alone: for example, resort to the services of a “dog nanny” (dog sitter) or ask friends or relatives to look after the dog.
Remember that separation anxiety, even if it seems that you have dealt with it, may come back - for example, when the dog’s living conditions change. However, do not despair - if you coped with the problem once, then there is a chance that you will be able to help the pet with relapse.