If you've ever owned a dog, you know that there are few things worse than leaving your four-legged family member behind. You can hear them howling and crying long before you even get out the door. And when they're not yelping, they're pacing back and forth like they're going to drive themselves insane. If this sounds like your dog, then you may be dealing with separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a common issue among dogs, and it can be incredibly difficult to manage. There's no way around it—your dog is going to miss you when you leave them in the house alone, but that doesn't mean that they have to suffer! There are ways to help ease separation anxiety in dogs that don't involve leaving them at home all day every day.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a common condition in dogs. It's an emotional response to being left alone and can manifest itself in several ways:
- Dogs may bark or whine incessantly when you're gone, even if they've never done so before.
- They may tear up furniture, chew through walls and doors--anything that gives them access to where you are (or were) standing when they last saw you.
- They may refuse to eat while they wait for your return.
Separation anxiety isn't just annoying; it can also be dangerous for both people and pets if left untreated:
What causes separation anxiety in dogs?
There are a number of factors that can cause your dog to develop separation anxiety. Dogs are pack animals, which means they have a strong desire to be part of a group and feel connected with others. In addition, dogs are social animals who need to feel secure in their environment in order for them to thrive and be happy. Because of this, if you leave your dog alone for long periods of time or your pet feels as though it has been abandoned (even if it hasn't), then he may begin exhibiting signs of separation anxiety upon being left alone again in the future.
Signs of separation anxiety in dogs
- Barking and howling
- Pacing in the house, or hiding under furniture or in closets
- Chewing on objects
- Escape attempts
- Excessive salivation or licking
- Urinating and defecating in the house
Treatment for separation anxiety in dogs
The treatment for separation anxiety in dogs depends on the severity of the condition and the dog's age. In severe cases, medication may be necessary to alleviate symptoms. However, behavioral modification techniques are often recommended first as they are much less invasive than medication.
A common behavioral modification technique is called desensitization, which involves exposing your dog to situations that trigger his or her anxiety while working on calming signals from you (i.e., eye contact and touch). This can be done by taking your pet outside for walks when he/she isn't exhibiting signs of anxiety so that he doesn't associate leaving with being anxious; then gradually increase how long it takes before returning home by one minute each day until reaching 15 minutes apart from each other at night when sleeping
Separation anxiety can be treated.
Separation anxiety can be treated. You can consult with a vet, get a behaviorist or trainer, hire a dog walker or sitter, and even enroll your pet in doggy daycare if needed. These options will help you to work through your dog's separation anxiety problems together so that everyone feels safe when you're apart.
If you think your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more damage your dog can do to their home and themselves while they're alone.