If your pup is a little bit more destructive than usual when you leave the home—or even just the room—you might be dealing with a case of separation anxiety. This usually manifests itself as behavioral issues when you are not around, including chewing apart furniture, clawing at walls or doors, barking, whining, and attempting to escape from their crate. However, there is a difference between real dog separation anxiety and simulated anxiety.
Simulated versus True Separation Anxiety
While some dogs may seem like they struggle with separation anxiety, it may be an act that they have learned because of reinforced behavior. In fake anxiety, the dog knows that they will get attention for their behavior, even if they are reprimanded. They don’t mind the punishment because it means they are getting attention. The good news is, this anxiety can be fixed pretty easily. Your dog just needs more structure and leadership to know that this behavior is unacceptable. Consistent obedience training, exercise, and increased crate time can usually help this behavior!
Separation Anxiety Causes
Believe it or not, you may be the one encouraging your dog’s separation anxiety. Making a big deal out of leaving or coming home can lead the dog to feel anxious as you begin to leave. Dogs know that we are a part of their pack, so when we are away for long periods of time, it brings them a lot of stress. If you have had a recent change in your routine, such as a new work schedule, this can lead to anxiety. However, sometimes holding your dog back from their natural instincts can also lead to this new behavior—they may be bored and in need of more exercise.
Curing Separation Anxiety
While medication can ease some of the smaller symptoms, it is not a cure. They only provide a tool to help you, the owner, to rehabilitate the dog’s behavior. Once you get your dog, it’s time to begin teaching him that quiet and calm are desirable behaviors. Early obedience training and discipline will show your dog that you are the pack leader and should be treated as such.
Crate training is a huge part of handling separation anxiety, so do your best to familiarize your dog with that space right from the beginning. Have your dog get familiar with the crate when you are home, and make them spend small amounts of time in there and increase it as you go. Feed him in there, and let him have his favorite toys. As you leave, if you sense that certain actions (such as picking up your keys) bring on stress, do them frequently without actually leaving. This way, your dog will get used to the action.
VetCare Pet Hospital
We at VetCare want you to have a happy and healthy relationship with your dog. Our team of professionals is ready to help you take on the challenge of eliminating separation anxiety and restoring peace to your home. Contact us today to make an appointment, or call us with any questions you may have!