Are you about to go on holiday but for reasons beyond your control, you can’t take your four-legged friend with you and your pet suffers a lot when you go away? Reducing your dog’s separation anxiety is possible. Here are our recommendations.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is an anxious reaction that occurs in some dogs when they remain alone or are separated from their owner. Dogs, in fact, are pack animals by nature, so being in a group or in somebody’s company makes them feel strong and gives them a sense of protection. As a result, being alone can trigger emotional problems.
How does anxiety manifest itself in a dog?
Separation anxiety can develop in puppies, but it can also emerge in adult dogs following a traumatic episode, such as being transferred, moving to a new house, an accident, an operation. Our furry friend will usually begin to behave abnormally when his master is not at home or when he is just about to go out.
Typical behaviour and symptoms in a dog suffering from separation are:
- destruction of objects and furniture;
- sounds (barking, crying, whining);
- refusing food and water;
- peeing in places that are not allowed;
- excessive excitement at the sight of his owner.
Multiple symptoms may occur simultaneously (but not necessarily) and can happen for both long and short separations.
How do you treat separation anxiety?
A rather effective method for limiting problem of separation anxiety in the dog is to take away the meaning of all those gestures you make before going out. We all have rituals that take place before we go out of our home, such as putting on our shoes, getting the car keys from the cabinet, etc. Since a dog knows our movements and most of our habits perfectly, all you need to do is take him by surprise. Every now and then, at random moments during the day, try changing your shoes, handling the lead, fiddling with the keys; by doing so, over time and with patience, we will take all meaning away from these “preparatory” noises and we will help our dog to get rid of all the anxiety accumulated on these occasions.
Remember that you must never show your four-legged that you feel guilty because you are about to go out, nor should you cover him with shows of attention when you come back, as if you haven’t seen him for a long time! If you want to help Fido, before you go out, always let him find his favourite toys and food and, in this way, he will be more easily distracted.