If your dog or puppy is acting up, it’s not always an obedience issue. Many dogs act out because of other issues they develop. One of the most common is separation anxiety. As many as 14% of dogs suffer from this issue. How do you know if your dog has separation anxiety? Read on to learn more.
What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Separation anxiety is when a dog gets stressed when left alone. There’s a not so fine line between your dog being bummed to see you leave and separation anxiety. For the most part, it is misunderstood by pet parents and dog owners. Too many times, people approach the issue from a human perspective. Most articles offer just short term relief without addressing the root of the problem. We want to get to the root cause. First, let’s take a look at your dog’s behavior.
The #1 Clue Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Not all destructive dog behavior is anxiety related. You need to establish a cause and effect relationship. Most dogs act in response to a stimulus. Therefore, recognizing that behaviors are dog anxiety symptoms is the first step in fixing the problem. If your dog is engaging in destructive behaviors while you are gone, ask yourself this simple question: When you return, does the destructive behavior stop? If the answer is yes, you are likely dealing with separation anxiety in your dog. You being away is related to the start of the behaviors. Let’s look at the common symptoms next.
Recognizing 6 Dog Anxiety Symptoms
Review these common symptoms and see if they fit your dog. Then ask if they stop when you get home.
Chewing: Destructive chewing is almost always a symptom. When dog chew, it releases endorphins similar to the one released when a human is chewing gum in an attempt to stay calm. Even regular chewing may be a sign.
Barking or whining: One of the most common symptoms is when a dog starts barking as soon as it’s owner leaves. Some dogs will bark the entire time, causing all kinds of trouble with neighbors. The barking is a call for the owners to return to the pack, similar to if you were to call your children when you can’t find them.
Escaping when you are not there: This one is bad! It can be very destructive, extreme and sometimes dangerous. Contrary to popular belief, your dog is not trying to get away from you. He is actually looking for you! So many people are told to try and exercise the problem out of their dog but it will not solve the problem.
Digging and General Destruction: Definitely connected to stressful and anxious behavior. Self-mutilation: Some dogs will compulsively lick their paws. Some even to the point of the fur coming off. Excessive licking and chewing can also be a sign of dog anxiety.
Excessive drooling: This is also a sign of stress. Sometimes people think these are medical conditions, but they are also stress related. Obviously, if you are not sure if it is medical, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.
Urinating or pooping: When a potty trained dog goes inside the house, it could be a behavioral issue. If it is only happening when you are away, then it is probably separation anxiety. This assumes that you are being responsible and coming home to let your dog out at reasonable intervals. Even the most well adjusted dog can’t hold it forever.
How to Cure Separation Anxiety in Dogs
You can find a lot of places that will give advice on treating these symptoms. But if you want know how to cure separation anxiety in dogs you have to treat the root cause of the problem. If you are serious about how to stop separation anxiety then you must become your dog’s pack leader.
Sound crazy? Sure it does, but it works.
Separation anxiety is straight forward in that it occurs when your dog believes he is the pack leader. If he’s the pack leader, then you are his puppy or a member of his pack. In the wild dogs do not wander off out the den on their own. So when you leave your house (the den), this is very troubling to your dog. That’s when the separation anxiety kicks in and it will continue until you return to him.
The answer to how to stop separation is simple. Show your dog that you are the pack leader. Once you show your dog that you are the pack leader your dog will be fine with you coming and going as you please.
Watch and Learn: Video Dog Training
Being the pack leader is not as hard as it sounds. You don’t need to yell or bully your dog. When it comes to dog training, we are big fans of video demonstrations because you really get more from watching than reading. One of the best video places to understand more about establishing yourself as the pack leader is the video based web site The Online Dog Trainer. The site is run by professional dog trainer Doggy Dan. Understanding the real cause of the problem is the first step, becoming the pack leader is the solution. It is a paid site, but our readers can get free access by clicking here.
If you prefer reading, or you just want to get started with your dog, go download our FREE Everyday Dog Training Tools PDF.
The first step to helping if your dog has separation anxiety is recognizing the problem. Once you identify the problem, take action to fix the problem. You want your dog to be healthy and well-adjusted. The happier your dog, the happier you will be.