Dogs can be difficult pets to take care of, especially for first-time owners. They must be routinely walked, fed, and groomed. Dogs should also be regularly taken to the vet to make sure they do not have any major health concerns. Many dogs also simply enjoy spending quality time with their owners and become so attached to them that they begin to feel distressed as soon as their owner leaves the home. This phenomenon is known as separation anxiety. Here is a close look, including how to help a dog with separation anxiety.
What Does Separation Anxiety Look Like In Dogs?
Not all dogs express concern over being left alone in the exact same way. However, here are some common symptoms of separation anxiety, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA):
- Barking and howling loudly and incessantly
- Urinating and defecating on multiple surfaces and furniture
- Chewing, digging, and destroying doors, windows, or household objects
- Escaping from an area to which they are confined when left alone; this can potentially lead to self-injury
- Pacing in a fixed pattern
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Dogs?
There are several reasons dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Here are some of the most frequently apparent causes of separation anxiety in dogs:
- Change of guardian or family: When a dog is taken in by a new guardian or abandoned, this can cause severe distress, especially at first.
- Change in residence: Dogs often need time to become accustomed to a new home, even if their owner remains the same.
- Change in schedule: A sudden change in a guardian’s work schedule can also trigger separation anxiety in a dog, especially if the former is forced to spend less time at home.
- Change in household membership: The death or departure of a household member can also lead to separation anxiety.
Other Behavior Problems To Rule Out
Aside from the previously listed symptoms of separation anxiety (and medical conditions such as incontinence), there are other behavior issues you should rule out before deducing that your dog has separation anxiety.
Incomplete House Training:
If your dog still frequently urinates throughout your home, this is likely a sign that he/she has not been fully house-trained.
Dogs that urinate when they become excited or get reprimanded sometimes adopt submissive postures when interacting with people. Such positions include holding their tail low and rolling over to expose their belly.
How To Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
There are several ways of helping a dog that develops separation anxiety. However, here are three particularly useful tips to remember.
Stay Calm When You Leave And Come Home
One of the most effective ways of handling your dog’s separation anxiety is to remain as calm as possible whenever you leave or return to your home. No matter how anxious your dog becomes, ignore it for a few minutes and then gently pet it. Much like with a human child, a dog may become more agitated if they sense you are distressed as well.
Give Them A Special Treat
Many dogs respond positively to treats, so this can be a highly effective strategy for calming your pet down. This treat can be anything, such as a KONG® stuffed with cheese, canned food, or even a toy. You can try giving your dog different treats until you identify one he likes. As soon as you are back home, take away your dog’s access to this treat so that he becomes used to having it only when left alone.
Make Sure They Have Plenty Of Exercise
Exercise is known to improve both physical and mental health, and the same concept applies to dogs. If you routinely allow your dog space and time to walk or run around (e.g., in your backyard) or practice out-of-sight stay exercises, your pet may feel less restless when it is left alone.
Work With Paw Pals For Dog Sitting Services And Info On How To Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
Speak to the professionals at Paw Pals for more information about high-quality dog sitting services. We are dedicated to offering personalized, full-service dog walking and pet sitting services to people throughout Fairfax County, Virginia.
Regardless of how long you plan to be away from home, Paw Pals can take proper care of your dog. Our sitters are highly trained, licensed, and fully certified (for both first aid and pet CPR) professionals who can give your dog all of the exercise and interaction they desire. We provide regular vacation visits (non-overnight), in-home overnight dog sitting, and bed and biscuit service. Our services include walks, playtime, brushing, and providing treats (as well as medications, if required). We charge $80 per night for overnight sitting for the first dog, and then $10 per night for each additional dog. Additional services include dog supply pick-up and dog transportation/taxi service.
Call Paw Pals today at (703) 345-1695 or contact us online to learn more about our dog sitting services.