A very common problem with domestic animals is separation anxiety.  It is the most prevalent with dogs and it really comes down to the fact that they miss you. Depending on the degree of dog separation anxiety, mild cases can be annoying, causing your dog to whine when you leave the house. However, if it is allowed to advance, your dog could become destructive, going potty in your home, or barking constantly for hours when you leave.

Causes of Dog Separation Anxiety

Because dogs are pack animals, they feel a direct attachment to their owner. It is inherent for them to look to their leader for direction and feel mildly stressed when their pack leader is absent. After all, dogs are creatures of habit and need input from their Alpha.

With some dogs, when they are left alone in your house, they feel abandoned and become agitated, especially if you normally spend a lot of time together. Most of the anxiety they feel is due to your absence and it can begin with you even showing signs of leaving such as changing clothes or looking for your keys.

While most dogs do not like it when their master leaves, there is no direct reason they should grow so agitated.  One explanation is that when you change your normal routine, it throws them off and makes them feel insecure. Their behavior escalates every day you leave and your dog cannot control its anxious feelings. Your pet isn’t sure when or if you’ll come back and it feels scared.

Dog separation anxiety seems to be more prevalent with dogs who were already abandoned before such as dogs from a shelter or pet store. Another possible explanation is that dogs, similar to humans, can have a chemical imbalance in their brain. If this is the case, then stress could trigger the manic behavior.

Another observation is that dog separation anxiety seems to happen more often when a dog has a single person or a couple that they live with. They become more attached when there aren’t as many people in the family. On the other hand, in a big family, there is a better chance someone would be around to distract the dog.  Whatever the cause, let’s look at some possible solutions.

Learn How to Stop Your Dogs Separation Anxiety

Reducing Dog Separation Anxiety

Since you can’t ask a dog to explain their behavior, no one is really sure of the causes for dog separation anxiety.  Here are a few of the easiest methods to try and help reduce the anxiety that your dog experiences when you leave the house.

First, you need to make sure there is nothing physically wrong with your dog. If it is in pain for whatever reason, it could be more sensitive to changes in its environment. Also, check for unusual conditions in your house such as strange smells or noises that could be scaring your puppy.

If everything seems okay, then try changing up your routine. If your dog starts acting different when it hears your alarm going off in the morning, it has associated that sound to the beginning of you eventually leaving the house. Try getting up at different times, showering right away, take your briefcase or keys to the car before you leave and come back inside for a little while. Small variations will lessen the anxiety.

A great technique is to try going outside and coming right back in before your dog can get upset, doing this several times throughout the day and then building up to being gone longer and longer time periods.  Experiment with leaving while your dog is watching you and then not watching, or even just going to a different room and shutting the door between you.

You reinforce the separation anxiety by lavishing them with attention before you leave or after you get home.  If you don’t make a big deal about leaving or returning, it may reduce their anxiety. You might even try ignoring them for a short time before you leave or after you get home. This can be done with them in the crate or out, but you can’t give in to their whining.

Other ideas for helping your pet lessen dog separation anxiety are making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and socializing and consider leaving a radio on to block out some of the sounds that could be scaring to your dog.  No matter what, your dog needs to understand that you are the boss of the household.  Reducing dog separation anxiety is not only good for you and your home, but it is also good for your dog’s physical and mental well being.

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