I have had many students come to me recently with dogs who experience separation anxiety. An issue like separation anxiety is not an easy, overnight fix. With time and consistency, however, you can see improvement. There are many reasons anxiety starts, but there are some things you can do to help ease your dog’s mind when left alone. As always, I recommend you have a vet visit to rule out any physical problems that may be present.
If you are not already crate training, I would recommend having a crate or some safe area that your dog can stay in during the day while you are away. Some dogs can become destructive just because they are bored, and occasionally this is mistaken for anxiety. If your dog really is stressed while you are away, try to mix up your routine as much as possible so the dog is less likely to react to the triggers of you leaving. Most commonly the triggers of you leaving are things like picking up keys, moving your purse or bags, putting shoes on etc. Start by randomly doing these things even when you are not leaving, so the dog can see that doing something like putting on your shoes does not always mean you go away. Try not to have a long, drawn out conversation with the dog about leaving “mommy will be back in a little while….” etc. If possible, there should be no dialogue at all about you leaving, just simply put the dog in its safe space and leave. It is also very important to make sure that the dog has enough exercise, especially before you leave. If the dog is tired, it is less likely to be destructive or anxious.
Special toys can also help ease anxiety. Stuffed Kong toys, treat balls, deer antlers, or doggy puzzles can be helpful. Try to keep these toys special for only when you go away, when you return pick them up. This way the dog will feel rewarded when you leave. Also, go away for short periods of time frequently. Walk around the block, go to the mailbox etc. If your dog is a barker, there are non static correction bark control collars that have vibrate features, or spray unpleasant citronella or emit an ultrasonic beep. These can be helpful by giving a correction even when you are not home.
These are just a few tips to help ease some anxiety. Remember to stay consistent and positive. Your energy will be reflected by your dog, so keep calm and in control. For more in depth assistance please contact us by calling 828-338-9962 or email. In some cases it is necessary to consult a canine behaviorist or veterinarian for more severe cases. As always, Appalachian Tails Dog Training is here to assist you in Asheville, Nc.