As much as we love our dogs, we need to leave them alone sometimes. For some dogs, this triggers separation anxiety, and the anxiety that it causes may show itself in a number of unhealthy behaviors. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make your dog feel more at ease when you leave so that he does not feel quite as anxious.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
Each dog may handle anxiety differently. Separation anxiety can lead to other behavioral problems, and addressing the root cause will often solve these issues. Symptoms of separation anxiety include the following.
Going to the bathroom indoors even though the dog is housebroken.
Destructive chewing, such as destroying furniture, clothing, and other items around the house within reach.
Trying to escape the home.
Crying or whining the moment that you leave. If the dog does not stop this behavior soon after you’ve departed, it could be indicative of separation anxiety.
Changes in physical health, such as diarrhea, colitis, and infections.
How to Train a Dog with Separation Anxiety
It is possible to address the issue by committing some time to train your dog so that he does not get anxious when you leave. The primary reason that a dog may feel this anxiety is a fear that you will not return and that he will be isolated and alone. Reinforcing that you are going to return is the most important message you can communicate.
Begin by selecting a comfortable place for your dog to lay down. Give him a stay command and exit the room, closing the door behind you. If he stays in place without making any noise after some time, return and give him a release command. Make sure to reward him each time he does this to your satisfaction.
If your dog’s anxiety is triggered by actions that are associated with your leaving the home, work with him while performing these actions as well. Common actions that may indicate you are about to leave include reaching for your keys, walking toward the front door, telling other people goodbye, or picking up your wallet. Finally, make sure to avoid actions that could increase his anxiety on the way out.
Be calm when you exit and arrive so that your dog doesn’t interpret this as a big deal. Make sure that he gets a lot of exercise prior to your departure because this will help him relax and go to sleep. You may also consider working with a professional trainer on these behavioral issues.