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Tips for Curbing My Dog's Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety in dogs can come in several different forms and levels, just as it can in humans. This means that you may have to tackle your dog’s anxiety in a different way than your friend or neighbor had to tackle theirs. Fortunately, there are some basic tips, though, that may prove helpful to you, though you may have to tweak them to fit your abilities and your dog’s needs.
Complete obedience training
While it may sound unconnected in some ways, there seems to be connections between a dog’s separation anxiety and the training that they have received. The more a dog is able to obey his owner and do what his owner wants him to do, the more the dog feels comfortable, safe, and more confident in himself. As your dog complies with what you want, he will lose some of his anxiety simply in knowing that he is handling things that way you want him to.
Help him prepare for the inevitable
We cannot always stay home with our pet simply to put his mind at ease; you would never get anything accomplished this way. Your dog will most likely learn to recognize when you are about to leave: you put on shoes, you grab your keys, and you don a jacket. Whatever you normally do when you leave, try doing it but then sit down and watch TV for a while. This will show your dog that those are not necessarily signs that his owner is leaving him and he will become less tuned to those actions.
Do not discipline scared behaviors
Fear is not something that needs to be disciplined; neither are the actions that come about because of it. For example, if your dog pees on the floor, normally you would discipline him so he knows that is unacceptable. However, if he has peed because he was scared, the point is moot; the same thing goes with other scared behavioral outburst. Tough love in the face of fear may have a more detrimental effect than if you were to simply help him settle and calm down after you return home.
Take it slow
When you dog has severe separation anxiety, you may want to take things in baby steps. Start leaving your dog alone for a couple minutes at a time and get him used to that. You can then gradually bump up the timeframe. The more consistent you are with this training, the better luck you should have with easing your pet’s anxiety. If you know that you will be gone for a long while, you might considering having a friend or family member come stay with your dog or take him to their home for that time period; this way your dog will have someone with him and will not need to feel as stressed about the separation.
Whatever method or methods you decide to employ when helping your dog overcome their separation anxiety, you should always be consistent with it and do what you can to make him feel more comfortable with the situation. Positive reinforcement and consistency will go a long way to helping your dog feel more in control and confident. If you need additional advice, consult your veterinarian for recommendations.