If you have a nervous dog, you may already know about the havoc that comes with dog separation anxiety. Separation anxiety in dogs is pretty standard and, unfortunately, can lead to a bit of chaos when not managed correctly. As much as we love our pooches, having them howl constantly while we’re gone, destroy our belongings in our absence, and having them make a nuisance of themselves isn’t ideal.
Unfortunately, when it comes to anxiety in dogs, many see this as their pet being disobedient while, in fact, these are common signs of nervousness. Getting to know the signs and symptoms as well as knowing how to keep your dog calm when you’re away can make for a happier and calmer household for all. Not to mention the fact that you can save on a good pair of shoes too!
Understanding Anxiety in Dogs
The first step in keeping your dog calm when you leave the house is to understand why they feel this way in the first place.
Naturally, dogs are pack animals. As his family, you are his pack. Just as dogs are man’s best friends, we are theirs too! When we leave our doggos by themselves, we are then separating the pack, which may make them scared and a bit lost.
Think of it as going to a party all by yourself without knowing anyone - you tend to be a bit on edge and feel out of place, right? Well, the same thing happens to your dog. As a result, they’re not their usual bouncy and happy selves where loud noises can frighten them and spark a series of destructive behavior.
Signs of Dog Separation Anxiety
Remember, dogs can’t tell us what’s wrong, but they can show us. If you think your pal is suffering from dog separation anxiety, keep your eyes out for these symptoms.
- Constant howling, barking or whining
- Indoor accidents even though your doggo is housetrained
- Heavy drooling or panting
- Obsessive pacing
- Trying to escape
- Chewing, digging or scratching at doors and windows
What Can You Do If You Have a Nervous Dog?
Although vets may recommend medication for an effective way on how to keep your dog calm, there are a few things you can do at home. If your nervous dog situation becomes a handful and too much for you to cope with, it’s best to consult a behavior specialist or your vet.
Create a Safe Space
As much as we want to spend all of our days cuddling up to our 4-legged friends, there will come a time where we need to leave them alone. To stop any menacing chewing or barking, try finding a room where your doggo feels most comfortable. Ideally, this room should be away from noisy streets to keep sound scares to a minimum.
For some, buying a crate that’s specifically tailored to the size of your dog can help them feel more comfortable too. Whether you opt for a room or container, just make sure that your pal is happy in the area. Try placing a loved toy or an item of clothing that smells like you to help your dog soothe themselves when nervous.
Like most dog training tips, success doesn’t happen overnight. Anxiety in dogs can be minimized by helping them adjust to the situation through interval training. However, it will take time to get your dog completely comfortable.
The goal here is to help your dog feel confident that you will return - with kisses and cuddles, of course! Start getting your dog familiar with the thought of being alone by leaving them by themselves for a few minutes at a time. You can then gradually extend the amount of time as they become more comfortable. Loving praises comes highly recommended for each time your doggo waits quietly!
Change Up Your Routine
Like hoomans, doggos are creatures of habits and can become anxious when their surroundings change. An excellent tip for dog separation anxiety is to create an environment where change is something that your pal is familiar with. To do so, make subtle differences at home by using a different door or putting your belongings in new places. You can also try feeding them in new areas to help shake up your dog’s habits.
Exercise is a handy tool for helping us manage our furry friend’s behavior. Ensuring that your dog is well-walked before leaving the house can help get rid of extra energy and is fantastic for their mental health too.
As frustrating as dog separation anxiety may be, a nervous dog can’t help the way he feels. At the end of the day, you are your dog’s safety, and they can feel lost without you. It all comes down to patience and time. The more you work with your dog to create healthy coping mechanisms, the better they will be when you leave home.
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