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How To Cope With Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Anyone who owns a dog you know how hard it can be to leave them on their own – those pleading eyes, the sad expression and the "take me with you" look can leave you feeling a bit of a "meanie" at times. However, once you've made sure your pet has everything they need to keep them happy and you shut the door, most dogs will settle down and snooze – but some of our canine friends do not. They stress out and get incredibly anxious when left on their own – even for shorter periods of time and this can lead to all sorts of unwanted behavioural problems!

Separation anxiety can be a real issue for some dogs. Some of our four-legged canine friends show they are extremely distressed in many different ways whether it's barking or whining, becoming destructive or regressing back to the days when they were puppies and some even lose control of their bladders when they think they are going to be left on their own. This leads to them chewing and scratching at doors, furniture and anything else they come across when they are left to their own devices.

Things You Can Do to Help the Situation

If you have just got a puppy or adopted an older dog from a rescue centre, you may find they get very stressed out when they think they are going to be left on their own. With puppies, it's important they get used to be left for short periods of time which you should include in their training programme.  If you do go out you might like to leave puppy in a room and not allow them to have free run of the house like this you limit the chances of them getting into trouble and injuring themselves on anything when you are not around.

Older Dogs Need a Lot of Understanding & Patience

However, if you've adopted a new canine friend and they suffer from separation anxiety, there are certain things you can do to make the ordeal less stressful for them (and you). You have to bear in mind that nothing will happen overnight – you will need a lot of time and quite a bit of patience and understanding especially if you find your new pet has been a little naughty or had an accident in your absence.

Some top tips you can include in your routine that might help your dog deal with separation anxiety include the following:

  • Make sure your pet is getting loads of exercise so when you do leave them on their own you've made sure the nice long walk has left them extra tired. This will help your pet feel more settled when you leave them because they chances are they will just want to curl up in their favourite spot and have a snooze
  • Take a look at their diet – if you are feeding your dog a high energy diet and they are not using up all those calories by getting enough exercise, the chances are they will be a little too anxious and stressed out when you leave them on their own – this could result in destructive behaviour which is something you need to address as soon as you. You should feed your dog a good quality but less high energy diet that suits their breed and the amount of daily exercise they get which should go a long way in helping resolve the problem
  • Stay calm when you leave the house, if you make too much fuss of your pet before you go out of the door, then your beloved pooch will expect this kind of attention each and every time you leave home and which gets them a little too excited which in turn makes it hard for them to settle once you've gone
  • Leave a few of your clothes around the house so your pet can have lots of familiar "you" smells to comfort them. Leave a radio or television on so there's a bit of noise in the house which may help your pet settle down
  • Make sure your dog has access to their favourite dog bed, sofa, chair or other spots they like to be in around the home. This will also help them settle and curl up in a spot they like and where they know they are safe
  • If your dog likes to follow you from room to room, you should try to reduce the amount of times they do this as a way of getting them used to not being with you – this is invaluable because some dogs get far too attached to their owners and when left on their own can become extremely stressed out
  • You should never tell your dog off if they have been naughty in your absence because they will not understand why they are being punished and you could end up making the whole situation that much worse the next time your four legged friend is left on their own
  • You may need to discuss the problem with your vet who might recommend you use some sort of plug-in pheromone products which could help your dog feel a lot more settled when you have to leave them on their own for any length of time

Conclusion

Dealing with separation anxiety in dogs can be very stressful for owners too. You need to show your pet a lot of patience and understanding and never tell them off if they have been naughty or had an "accident" during your absence because they will not understand why they are being punished. You have to remember that nothing will happen overnight, that it will take time for your pet to come around to the idea that they are safe even when you are not around.


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