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Separation Anxiety

Blogs for your dogs by Heel Sit and Stay!

Separation Anxiety - The indicators, the reasons, the solutions...

The Indicators

From my experience, there are a couple of obvious indicators that your dog has separation anxiety. Whether it be mild or severe it is not a great way for your dog to be.

The less obvious behaviour your dog will display is following you everywhere! Whether it be the bathroom, outside to the letterbox or into the next room. Every time you turn around they are right there. If you manage to sneak into another room when they are fast asleep and they wake - they will be up and searching for you at a fast rate of knots!

Another sign can be the destruction of furniture, chewing walls and doors, toileting in the house, redecorating your home with your favourite cushion or pillow or breaking out of the house/yard while you are out.

And thirdly, your neighbours! Either they let you know nicely 'oh by the way... your dog/puppy was a bit upset while you were out...' or when council come knocking or send you a letter because your dog has been howling the entire time you go out.

These are some of the signs your dog is experiencing separation anxiety and isn’t coping from being away from you.

This can also happen with dogs that are from the same litter or grow up together. They rely on their mate and if for some unfortunate reason they aren't there anymore - you guessed it - separation anxiety kicks in.

The reasons

Some of the common reasons dogs suffer separation anxiety are: not being socialised properly, trauma, and not learning to be away from their humans (or other dogs) and all the good things that go with them – food, fun, affection, toys, companionship etc. They don't know how to be independent and how to entertain and cope by themselves.

The best time to socialise your dog and teach them to be alone is when they are young. But it’s never too late and there are lots of things you can do to help overcome separation anxiety.

The Solutions

  • Start slowly with short periods of being away from your dog in a controlled environment. This could start with you stepping out of sight or closing a door to a room for as little as 30 seconds. When you renter the room on come home, ignore them initially until they calm down, then calmly greet them. Increase the time apart as your dog relaxes. This should be done normally with no fuss.

  • Do a short session of “brain training” before you leave. Use the commands that you know or have a look at some of the games on my website you can play with your dog. If they use their brain and have to think, they will be tired when you leave. Try not to over-stimulate them with a big walk or game of fetch - tug of war, as this will energise them before you leave.

  • Mat Training is a fantastic technique to start to train your dog it is okay not to follow you. It teaches calm behaviour and is a happy place for your dog (video's on how to Mat Train are on my website).

  • Leave 'Lickimat' (check out my shop for these great products), safe chews, puzzle toys, Kongs etc to keep your dog amused while you are out.

  • Leave the TV on or music playing when you aren't home.

  • If your dog is particularly anxious a Thunder Jacket, massage or other calming therapies are options you may find useful to explore.

  • Talk to your vet, dog health professional, behaviouralist or trainer (that's me) for professional advice and support.

This may be a challenge for you too but stay calm – your dog learning to be relaxed when they are alone is important for both of you.

If you need more help or have questions click 'Contact Belinda'

Here is Rambo... He called 'Molly's Yelp Line' for some advice on his separation anxiety

Next Blog - Thunderstorm stress!

Bow wow, for now, Belinda

Belinda Marinus

Head Dog Trainer

Heel Sit and Stay! Dog Obedience

Author of “My Life as Your Dog”

Creator of “Happy not Yappy Dogs”

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