impulse control for dogs

Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety is more common than you think.

Separation anxiety in dogs may bring on a number of problems associated with this. It can cause your dog to constantly bark, eating grass, digging in your yard or even eating poop.

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separation anxiety in dogs

Is constant barking a sign of separation anxiety?

 

One of the most distressing behaviors in dogs is barking whenever you leave the door. He will probably bark all morning, disturbing your neighbors and times you can get a legal complaint from one of them. Like children, our dogs tend to be quite clingy and sad when we leave to go to our respective workplaces. The reason why your pup is barking when left alone could vary, based on the frequency and state of your dog.

In most circumstances, your dog will not have anything to do at home after you leave for work but wait for his master to return home. He could be barking for some various reasons, some of which you can be able to correct through training. However, the greatest cause for a barking dog when left alone is separation anxiety that comes with loneliness.

However, your dog might also bark when you leave as a result of boredom, genetics, and fear. Making your dog’s environment comfortable enough for him to avoid triggering him to bark excessively. Let us look at separation anxiety intensively.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Most dogs will develop separation anxiety ranging from mild to severe, mainly a few minutes after his owner has left. This will make your dog develop a coping mechanism which can result in excessive barking. However, you do not have to worry if your dog has developed separation anxiety as it is preventable and can be corrected.

Causes of separation anxiety in dogs

Just like we call them, man’s best friend, dogs do not enjoy being alone all day; they are a social species which is why we have been able to domesticate and live with them. In fact, dogs are a part of our family and so they get lonely when we leave him alone all day. It gets worse when you confine him in a kennel, which might also trigger separation anxiety.

Below are some of the most common causes of separation anxiety.

1.Confinement

Confining your dog, especially if he is used to roaming freely in the house, can bring a lot of anxiety which can result in barking. He might actually bark and howl for as long as you are away from home, which can result in complaints from your neighbors.

This is because your dog feels the isolation every time you cage him in and scared for being alone in his kennel. Usually, when you let him out, your dog will be excited to explore the compound once again. However, to diagnose separation anxiety you will need to take your pup to a vet behaviorist.

2. Boredom

As severe as separation anxiety may be, boredom is among the leading causes of separation anxiety. Like humans, dogs also get bored when they are all alone at home with nothing much to do but wait for you.

When your dog gets bored, he is definitely going to come up with a way to end it, and some dogs find barking quite an interest activity to partake when you are away. It is important to note that separation anxiety is not boredom. Most dogs will bark for a few minutes and probably get back to being calm while others will bark throughout your absence.

  • Change of homes

A dog may suffer separation anxiety in the event where he changes his environment, for instance, if you recently got a new dog, he might suffer from anxiety. This is quite common because just like humans, dogs get anxious when they meet new people, and on adoption, this means that he will have to live with a new family.

Not only will you and your family cause him anxiety but also the new environment, especially if he is from a shelter. In a shelter, dogs live with other dogs, in a quite different environment, and with other dogs. On adoption, he is probably the only dog in your home and needs some time to get back to normalcy.

However, in the case where the anxiety does not go away in a few days, you should have him see a veterinarian behaviorist to diagnose your pup.

If you have gotten a puppy from someone else or inherited him, he might also develop the separation anxiety from nostalgia.

Death of his owner

Once you bring a dog home, he automatically becomes a part of your family, and you become a member of his pack. This means that your family, the entire family, plays a huge role in improving your dog’s quality of life. When a member of the family passes on, your dog will also feel the loss from the long-term separation.

This can actually lead to severe separation anxiety since he will not get to see his owner anymore. Sometimes, your dog will develop anxiety from the death of a family member, not only his own.

separation anxiety in dogs

Newborn baby

A new baby can also cause your dog separation anxiety until he gets used to it. Once you introduce a new baby in your house, your dog might feel like all the attention is going to the baby, unlike before when he could get them all the attention he needed.

However, you will notice your dog has anxiety over the new baby if he was not behaving the same before the baby.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Now that we have identified the causes of separation anxiety above, let us look like the common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs;

Barking and Howling

This is one of the most common symptoms of separation anxiety whereby your dog will bark excessively when you leave the door, and sometimes when you are getting ready to start your day. The unique thing with dogs is that they love routine which is why he will always be anxious whenever you start preparing to leave.

He knows that he is going to spend another day all alone at home, waiting for his owner to return. In response to you leaving, your dog will bark persistently even after you are long gone. In most cases, your dog will bark all day when you are out of the house and get all quiet and relaxed when you get back.

House Soiling

As a result of the anxiety that hits your dog when he is all alone, he might soil the house, even if he is potty trained. He does this as a means to cope with being left alone. It is important to remember that separation anxiety is the excessive and exaggerated fear of being left alone.

This is vital in monitoring your dog’s behavior and house soiling from an anxiety attack will only happen when he is left alone.

  • Pacing

Just like when you are anxious and pace around the house, your dog will also pace around your house or yard when anxiety strikes. In fact, some dogs will try to escape the house or compound when left alone as a result of anxiety.

You might notice your dog is digging in the yard trying to look for a way out of his loneliness and anxiety. This is especially when he is confined, which also heightens the anxiety.

Chewing non-food items

This is the most common coping mechanism for a dog with separation anxiety and it can turn out to be quite destructive. Your dog might chew on things like your shoes or clothing, and some dogs will chew or dig in your beautiful couches if he is an indoor dog.

Dealing with separation anxiety

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you can be able to control the vice and also prevent similar occurrences in the future. However, to be able to curb separation anxiety completely, you will need to be patient and keen with your dog. The first step you take in dealing with separation anxiety is to monitor your dog and determine the cause of his heightened anxiety.

Natural ways of curbing Separation anxiety in barking dogs

Remove the stimuli

Dogs with separation anxiety do not just wake up and change, the anxiety is stimulated from something or someone else. For instance, if your dog has suddenly started showing the above-mentioned symptoms of anxiety, it is important to look at his behavior for a few days and understand where all that is coming from.

From this point, you will be able to know how to deal with his anxiety.  If the fear is brought about by a change of environment, you can adjust your household to make it more comfortable for your dog.

Keep him away from the windows

If your dog has developed a tendency of barking at other people and noises outside out of anxiety, you may consider putting him in the back room where he will not have to see or hear people walking outside.

However, you will have to provide him with options as he might get bored and start the same behavior from the backroom. You can keep him busy and entertained with toys before you leave the house.

Don’t make your absence too obvious

It is hard to leave your house without saying goodbye to your canine friend but necessary for when he has separation anxiety. To be able to do this, you can leave your TV on when leaving the house or play some soothing music, and make sure he does not see you get out of the door.

This way, he will not have to anticipate you leaving him alone or your return since he did not see you leave. By leaving the TV on or playing some calming music, you will be occupying him as well as entertaining him all day when you are gone.

Train your dog how to be alone

You can be able to do this even when you are at home by training him to stay in the room alone. However, you should always keep him entertained or occupied even as you do this. If he has severe anxiety, you can start by leaving him alone for a few minutes before coming back to where he is.

In time, he will adapt to being alone and enjoying his personal space.

Exercise your dog

Naturally, dogs will roam around and get to see new surroundings as well as exercise. If you fail to exercise your dog, he probably will suffer stiffness and boredom, which can result in your anxiety issues. Walking your dog prior to leaving your house is an important step in dealing with anxiety in dogs.

I have a barking dog when left alone with no separation anxiety. What could be causing this?

A barking dog, when left alone, is not caused by separation anxiety only but there are other contributing factors. These include;

Fear

If your dog is afraid of something at home, it is likely to get worse when you leave him all alone. Not only do you give your dog a sense of belonging but also security; he knows that everything is okay as long as you are at home with him.

It is important to monitor your dog and the things that make him afraid or feel threatened when we leave them. By eliminating the fear stimulant, your dog should be able to resume to his normal behavior.

Territorial Barking

Dogs are territorial in nature, but domestication has made it easy for them to relate well to humans. However, this does not change the fact that he wants to protect what is his if someone is threatening to take it.

If you leave your dog in the house alone, he might bark at any noises outside, and even passer-by trying to protect his master’s property. However, this is not a very good behavior as it might become chronic and constant if it is not corrected on time.

separation anxiety in dogs

Genetics

Some dogs, especially the smaller breeds and terriers, are bound to bark from their genetic composition. These dogs will bark at anything, to seek attention, boredom or for being left alone at home. Other breeds are sensitive like Border Collies and German Shepherds that were bred to herd or for security purposes. This makes them prone to anxieties and random fears that can lead to unnecessary barking.

In conclusion

You have to be able to know what is making your dog bark excessively before you can correct the behavior. A barking dog, when left alone, can create problems for you and your neighbors in relation to the barking noises. While you cannot be at home all day, you can opt to train your dog out of the habit. Proper training usually solves this problem, like many others. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to keep your dog happy.