Separation Anxiety

What is Separation Anxiety?

This is a condition where your dog exhibits signs of distress when they are left alone,
or you are away from them for a period of time. It can affect dogs of all ages and

What are the symptoms of dog separation anxiety?

We have all experienced it, you go out and leave your dog home alone. When you
return you find chewed beds, cushions, furniture. Perhaps your neighbor pays you
a visit to complain about the incessant barking and whining while you were at work today. Some owners mistake this as signs of their dog getting up to mischief. Here are some common signs of separation anxiety:
 Relieving themselves inside
 Being over excited when you return home.
 Panting
 Damaged furniture
 Attempting to escape
 Pacing
 Barking or howling

What are the triggers separation anxiety?

There are many reasons for distress. Some of the common triggers are:
 Moving house
 Travelling in the car
 Visiting the Vet or the Groomer
 Lack of training and socialisation
 A new baby in the home or other family member
 Strangers in the house (Tradies or visitors)
 Hectic noise (Fireworks, Parties, Thunderstorms, Christmas celebrations)

Is it separation anxiety or simply boredom?

It can be exceedingly difficult to differentiate between separation anxiety and
boredom. The best way to find out, is to video your dog when he is alone. If they
start barking or whining, pacing, or panting the minute you close the door and it
continues for 10 minutes or more, then it is separation anxiety. If, however your dog settles quickly, then they bark for a bit, settle, go to sleep and then start barking some more it is more than likely boredom.

How to help your dog with separation anxiety

Desensitize your dogs to departure cues.
If putting your shoes on or grabbing your keys clues your dog into the fact that you are leaving the house, they will immediately start to exhibit symptoms of anxiety. Try sending them mixed signals as to what these cues could mean. For example, grab your keys and put them in your pocket, then go and sit in lounge or just walk to another part of the house instead of walking out the door. Try putting your shoes on, opening the door but just stay home. Your dog will start to learn that these actions don’t necessarily mean you are about to leave them alone.
Save the long goodbyes for family and friends. 
If you spend 10 minutes hugging, kissing, fussing and telling your furry friends how much you will miss them while you’re gone, you are likely to increase their anxiety when you walk out the door and that attention has stopped abruptly. Your dog will be painfully aware that they are now alone. This is also likely to happen at the Vet or the Groomers when you must leave. Try to keep the fuss to the bare minimum when leaving or returning to the house. 
Create some gentle background noise when you leave.
This can as simple as leaving a radio on. Talkback stations are great for this, your
dog will hear human voices and will think they are not home alone.
Calming Bandanas
Using a product like a Pet Remedy Bandana can help relive your dogs stress and
anxiety. These bandanas come with a 15ml bottle of calming spray. Simply spray
Pet Remedy a couple of times on the bandana and tie around your dog’s neck. The blend of essential oils assists your pet to remain calm.
Calming Sprays
There are a couple of homeopathic, natural remedies available that help calm your pet without sedating them. Check out our Biopet Relax or Tagiwig Missing you remedies. 
Use a ThunderShirt
A Thundershirt is a natural calming solution that helps reduce anxiety in dogs in a
drug-free way. It applies a gentle, constant pressure that has a dramatic calming
effect on most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or overexcited. Anxiety experts
believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and may release calming hormones like endorphins. Using pressure to relieve anxiety in people and animals has been a common practice for years.

Tips for preventing separation anxiety.

Early training is essential for teaching puppies how to have some alone time. The
critical training period is between 4 and 16 weeks. However, if you have an older
dog, teach them that it is ok to be alone for a minute. Gradually extend that time sothat it is not such a shock to them when you leave the house for an extended period of time.
Avoid Punishment
If you return home and the place looks like a tornado passed through, do not punish your dog. The deed is already done and there is no way you can reverse their behaviour in that moment. They may link any punishment to thinking they deserved it for trying to welcome you home. This may lead to an increase in anxiety when you leave the house.
Do not leave your dog alone for extended periods.
If you know you are going to be gone for a period of 6 hours or more, consider
getting someone to look after your dog for you. This can either be family or friends
or a Doggy Daycare or Pet Sitting service. Your dog will be much happier know he
has company or other dog friends to play with as a distraction to your absence.

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