Helping Doggos with Separation Anxiety

Hello my Tribe! 💜💜 It’s the Yettie in the Pink Underwear talking about separation anxiety in dogs today. Lots of doggos have separation anxiety for different reasons, and there are a number of things you can do to help your dog feel better. 😁

What Causes Separation Anxiety?

The causes of separation anxiety are different for different dogs, so you really have to get to know your doggo before you can figure out what makes them so nervous when you leave. 🤔 When a dog is left alone for the first time, they don’t understand that you’ll be coming back, simply because they’ve never been left like that before. Facing something like that for the first time would scare anyone, but this means there’s a possibility that your pup will grow out of their separation anxiety all on their own. 😁 In a similar situation, your dog can have separation anxiety when you leave them alone for the first time in a long time. They’ve gotten so used to you being there all the time at this point, they don’t understand when you seemingly suddenly leave them. If your doggo has been in the shelter before, there’s sadly a good chance that they have separation anxiety, and it’s likely more severe. 🥺 Most shelter dogs have either been given up by their previous family, or have never had their own family. This is the perfect storm for trust issues in a dog. Your doggo just wants your attention, and is probably afraid you’ll leave them like they’ve been left in the past. Being put in a boarding kennel for a long amount of time could also have a similar effect to being in a shelter. Even if the dog isn’t abandoned, they don’t enjoy being away from you for that long, so now when you leave, they question when you’ll be back. A change in their schedule could also cause your doggo to be confused or nervous. 🤔😬 If they’ve gotten used to you leaving for work in the morning, and you decide to leave earlier one day (or if you decided to start regularly leaving earlier), they will probably notice. They could question why their schedule changed, and this simple switch is enough for some dogs to become anxious. 

What to do and What not to do

Understanding why your dog may be anxious when you leave is a good first step in helping their nervousness. If they have more mild anxiety, then the smaller solutions could make sure they’re comfortable when you leave. Simply being casual about leaving and coming home can show your doggo that it’s normal for you to come and go. 👍 Making a big deal out of leaving is a sign to your dog that it is a big deal. Getting another dog or pet to accompany them while you’re gone likely won’t help their separation anxiety. It’s believed that their nerves aren’t simply caused by being alone, but instead they’re caused by specifically being away from you. Instead of leaving them with another pet, try to leave them with something that smells like you instead. A recently worn piece of clothing can help to comfort them while you’re away. 👚👕 Toys that are meant to comfort your dog are another good option, especially if you don’t want your doggo chewing on your things. These toys are tough and crinkly, with a unique texture and squeakers inside. Toys are a great way to keep your dog happy and calm while you’re gone, but you should still always let your dog know that you’ll be back. The biggest part of separation anxiety in dogs is the fear that you won’t come home for them, so using a specific word or action to let them know that everything is okay can be beneficial. Safety cues like this directly tell your doggo that they are safe, and you can even use things like the tv or the radio as a safety cue. Be careful about using these devices, though, because they could confuse your doggo even more if they don’t understand what’s going on. 😱 For more severe separation anxiety, desensitization training can be used along with the tips I mentioned before. This will work better than obedience training, which will likely do nothing for your doggo. Since separation anxiety isn’t caused by lack of training or behavioral problems, training for obedience probably won’t help your dog’s nervousness like desensitization training will. Using positive reinforcement (especially with commands like: sit, lay down, and most importantly, stay) is recommended for your doggo, so they know they have the ability to stay happy and calm while you’re gone. 😁 Crate training is how some people try to solve separation anxiety, but this can actually make it worse for you and your doggo. Crating can cause your dog to react in an even worse way than before, since their responses to being confined in the small space may include going to the bathroom inside their crate, howling, barking, and even injuring themselves in attempts to escape. Instead, you can create a safe space for them in looser confinement that includes toys and clothes or other belongings that smell like you, in order to create a more comfortable and safe feeling. 😊 While punishing your dog for what may appear to be misbehaving can seem like a logical response, this is another thing that can make the situation worse. 👎👎 Again, separation anxiety isn’t caused by disobedience, so punishing your dog for being nervous isn’t going to get them to stop, and instead will likely make them even more nervous. 

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