Does your Dog have Separation anxiety ?
Separation anxiety is a common issue that I always get asked. The truth is that the phrase ‘anxiety’ is in fact the most common issue for our dogs in today’s society. To me, this makes perfect sense. This world is can be stressful! Imagine living in this world as a dog! Most of your survival resources are out of your control, leaving you with a whole lot of anxious energy to try and deal with.
The role of dogs in society has changed over time and is perhaps the main reason why so many dogs today now suffer from a range of anxieties that leave owners asking the desperate question ‘why?’.
As a specialist in the behaviour of dogs, I have seen how the relationship between dogs and their owners can sometimes unknowingly be more beneficial to the owner than the dog. Dogs are amazing companions, they give us so much love and comfort that sometimes, we forget that we have a responsibility to think from their point of view as much as our own responsibility. We should be asking ourselves some important questions such as ‘is it of benefit to my dog to feel he needs to follow me everywhere?’. ‘Are free cuddles and treats really showing my dog how much I love her?’. ‘Does his neediness really mean he loves me?’.
Evidence shows that dogs who display, nervous and needy behaviours are the prime candidates for separation anxiety. In many ways, the owners have encouraged this behaviour.Separtion anxiety is hard for your dog but buying them a fun dog proof ball or dog toy can help.
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How can you alleviate Separation anxiety if your dog already panics when you leave their sight? It can be done, but with effort and commitment each day. Any quick fix has a quick end, so let’s start dealing with the cause instead of the symptom.
Three Essential Steps to fix Separtion anxiety
- Exercise – increase it alot! Even if you think your dog gets enough, they probably don’t get enough. Remember to think more from your dog’s point of view than your own.
- Mental exercise for your dog – encourage them to use their brain in positive ways instead of negative. Hide ‘n’ seek games, ball games, new tricks etc. Draining your dog’s mental energy can increase their confidence, which is crucial to alleviating SRB. Impulse control behaviours are critical for your dog, such as the ‘sit/stay’ behaviour. Cue your dog to sit and increase the distance and time you can be away from them while they are sitting. Calmly return to them and release them. The more impulse control your dog has, the better they can control their state of mind when left alone.
- Departures and arrivals need to be a non eventful experience for your dog. No energetic greetings are allowed for your dog. It needs to be as if leaving and returning form your pet was always a certainty and that it’s no big deal for them. When your dog is calm and relaxed, that’s when calm and friendly greetings are permitted to them.