Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Guest Post: When you get a new puppy or dog, it is understandable that you want to spend as much time with it as possible! But you must realize, that can cause more harm than good.  Sometimes, families take time off from work or rearrange their schedule so they can be with the dog at all times in the beginning. But when their schedule changes and they have to leave the dog home, it can cause plenty of seperation anxiety in the dog. 

Confining your dog is a good thing:

Separation anxiety can lead to mass destruction and will only worsen with time.  The most important thing to start with is to choose a confinement for your dog.  It could be a crate, playpen, or certain small room in the house.  Do not see the confinement as a negative thing.  Dogs are like wolves and they see their den or confinement as their safe place.  

You, as the owner, will eliminate many messes from the dog urinating or defecating all over the house by confining your dog.  You will save plenty of money due to the fact that your dog will not have the opportunity to bite and destroy furniture. I have seen some horrible home destruction caused by one dog.

Even if you are a stay-at-home mom or work from home, DO NOT allow the dog to be with you at all times.  Put the dog in his confinement in another room, so he or she has time alone to sleep and play with their toys.  If you have the chance to leave the house for a little bit, even if it is for 10 – 15 minutes, please do, so your dog will get used to you leaving and coming home. 

When you do leave and come home, do not make a big deal.  Just walk out or in.  When you make a big deal about leaving or coming home, it raises the dog’s anxiety.

A rescued dog with separation anxiety:

If you rescued a dog with separation anxiety, it will take some time and patience, but the problem can be solved.  Please be patient!  First, confine the dog in an area of the house where he or she can not see you leaving.  You might also want to get a plastic covered crate, so the dog does not hurt itself trying to get out. 

You can also set the dog up by putting the dog in the crate, go outside for 3–5 minutes, then come back in and let him or her our of the crate.  DON’T say anything, just let the dog out, so they realize that they can be comfortable being in the crate.  Also, before you start getting ready to leave, put the dog in the crate, so they can not see you getting ready because that causes anxiety when the dog associates your habits before you leave.

Certain toys and bones are very important to leave with the dog.  Flavored nylabones, bullysticks, pig ears and pork rolls are great.  Also, marrow bones are safe and they will keep your dog busy for a long time.  They are found in your local supermarket in the refrigerator or freezer section.  Just ask the butcher and they will direct you. 

For large dogs, do not give them small bones because they can get stuck on the top of the mouth or they can swallow them whole and choke.  You can give it to the dogs raw in their crate or outside, so they get all the meat and marrow out, then they can bring it inside and it doesn’t make a mess. 

Dogs have digestive acids in their stomach that break the raw meat and bones with no problem.

Use the kong toy or marrow bones as special treats.  Only give it to your dog when you put them in the crate or certain confinement, so they know they are getting special treats when in the confinement.  Also, it keeps them occupied when you are leaving the house so they don’t stress out.

Training will definitely help with separation anxiety:

Obedience training with different commands is so important for the peace in your household.  You gain the dominance of the dog and the dog gets more tired than just running around playing with toys because dog training takes mental stimulation.  The best part is that it does not take long on a daily basis.  Even if you work with the dog for 10 – 15 minutes before you leave, that will be perfect. 

Remember, after you work the dog, give them the bone in the crate and walk out without saying anything.

When you first got your dog, did it have separation anxiety? Did you use crate training to avoid it? Share some of your techniques with us in the comments!

This post was written by Tony Collazo of Smart Start Dog Training.  Tony has over 12 years of dog training experience and is certified with the Animal Behavior College. Pet Assure is not affiliated with and does not endorse Smart Dog Training. Pet Assure is presenting this guest post for the benefit of its readers and retains no financial interest in any future transactions.

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