5 Things You Need to Know about Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a problem affecting many dogs who are bored, lonely, or afraid when their owners leave for any amount of time. Some dogs react by pacing, drooling, barking, or more destructive behaviors like chewing the furniture. Others may stop eating or try to escape the house. Learn more about this common issue so you can help your dog feel less stressed when you leave the house.
It Can Affect Any Dog
Any type of dog can be affected by separation anxiety, and it can be triggered at any point in their lives. Although a dog that has been raised in a stable environment with proper socialization is less likely to develop separation anxiety, a sudden change in routine such as the loss of a family member or moving to another town may trigger anxious behaviors.
It May Be Caused by a Medical Condition
If your dog suddenly starts to develop symptoms of separation anxiety, visit your vet to rule out a medical cause. If your dog is sick or in pain, it may cause him to act out of character, and you might mistake it for separation anxiety.
If your vet decides that separation anxiety is the real problem, he’s also the best person to advise you how to deal with it. Some veterinarians will prescribe medication for severe cases, while other dogs are able to improve with training and environmental changes.
It Can Cause Physical Problems
Some dogs’ anxiety is so severe that they actually injure themselves while their owners are away. They may get hurt trying to break out of a crate or chewing through a door. Some will even chew their own fur until their skin is raw. Others develop gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea. Every dog’s reaction is slightly different, and your dog’s symptoms may change over time.
What You Should Avoid Doing
If you come home and your anxious dog has destroyed your furniture or had an accident in the house, don’t scold him. Your dog won’t understand what he’s being scolded for and will only feel more stressed. This will make the cycle worse, giving him more anxiety the next time you leave.
What You Can Do to Help
Luckily, there are many ways to reverse separation anxiety and help your dog feel more comfortable when you’re not around. One of the best ways to do this is by using up his energy with a walk or playtime before you leave. A tired dog is much more likely to relax and sleep than one who’s still wound up. You can also help your dog stay busy when you’re gone by leaving toys or pieces of kibble around the house.
If your dog suffers from severe separation anxiety, you may want to put them into dog boarding when you’re away from home. When you leave your dog with trusted caretakers at Central Bark in Seattle, you can be sure that your dog won’t hurt himself and will instead get to play with his human and doggy friends all day. This should help him gradually realize that he can still have fun when you’re not around.