How to Help Your Dog Cope with Separation Anxiety
When it comes to finding training tips for your dog, there are many opinions out there. What may work for one pooch could potentially have the opposite results for another. However, most trainers agree that there are some basic steps you can take when dealing with a dog who suffers from separation anxiety. How do you know if your dog is plagued by separation anxiety? Chances are, if you’ve come home to destruction, complaints from neighbors about your dog’s endless howling and barking, or if your dog greets you with abnormally nervous behavior, they are probably experiencing anxiety in relation to your absence.
Popular dog trainer Cesar Millan makes some basic suggestions; take your pup for a quick walk before you leave to get some of their pent up energy out, don’t make a big deal when you leave for the day or even when you return, and start out small be leaving your dog alone for little 5-10 minute increments. This last suggestion is actually one that is agreed upon by many a dog trainer. In fact, the ASPCA recommends that doing these small increments can help “desensitize” the dog to the cause of their fear and anxiety. You could begin by introducing several short periods of separation that don’t produce anxiety, and then gradually increase time spend apart over the course of a few weeks.
Another common suggestion trainers make is to associate your departure with something positive. Perhaps when you leave, you give your dog a kong full of peanut butter or some other tasty treat they enjoy. You could even invest in a food-dispensing toy and give it to them every time you are about to leave. Chances are they will be so busy with their treat, they may not even notice you’ve left!
The most important thing that most dog trainers stress in regards to separation anxiety is that anxious behavior is not the result of disobedience. Your dog has legitimate fears, and punishing the behavior with scolding or yelling may only increase their anxiety rather than relieve it. It’s important to be patients and work with your pet until they feel comfortable and don’t mind spending time alone. This patience will also reduce the risk of your dog biting out of fear, whether it’s you or a visitor coming into your home after a long absence.
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