Many dog parents have experienced some kind of traumatic separation anxiety events with their dogs. Unfortunately, some folks do not handle those episodes very well. This post will give you useful information so you can help your dog with anxiety. Hopefully, you’ll take away a greater understanding of the things that can stress your dog and what you can do to prevent it.
Two keys to helping your dog through an anxiety event are recognizing what has triggered it and controlling your temper. Don’t raise your voice in anger and don’t punish the dog―even if your favorite shoes, car seats, or whatever else are chewed to bits. Sure, you might feel better by screaming obscenities and carrying on badly, but that’ll just be a temporary fix for you. The dog won’t understand your anger and by acting out you’ll only make a bad situation worse. In the end, you will have broken the dog’s spirit and you won’t feel very good about yourself. Read on to learn more about how to help your dog with anxiety.
Just like some people, some dogs will suffer from anxiety attacks. In fact, lots of dogs lose control when they are left alone. Understanding the triggers that can make your dog anxious is crucial.
Here are a few common triggers that may ignite your dog’s anxiety:
- Suddenly being left alone for the first time
- Being left alone anytime, especially when unused to your absence
- Loud noises like fireworks, sirens, gunshots, or noisy vehicles
- Strangers at their home’s door
- Fear of being abandoned or lost―happens often to puppies and rescue dogs
- The sudden loss of a family human or another family pet
- Alone and a fear of being left behind or trapped in a small place
What You Can Do
- If possible, don’t leave your dog alone for long periods. If you must for any reason, then consider hiring a dog sitter or leaving the dog with a trusted and willing friend or relative.
- Dogs have amazing noses so be sure to leave your familiar scent behind. Recently used towels or clothing are great for this.
- Dogs also love toys. They like to “own” things and will develop favorites. Be sure to always leave the dog’s favorite toys with him or her.
- Teach the dog a special word or action that affirms you’ll be back and use it every time you leave. Make it unique and use it only for this purpose.
- What dog lover doesn’t get a kick out of a big welcome home by slobbery kisses and excited tails? But, this indicates the dog was sure you were gone forever. Keep your comings and goings simple, you’ll minimize the fear your best friend feels when you’re out.
- While obedience training will not prevent anxiety in dogs, it is important that your dog has, at least, basic command and social training. This will go a long way to instilling good behavior at all times.
What You Should Never Do
- Don’t confine your dog to a crate. Like most animals, dogs hate confinement. Don’t lock your dog in a small space like a crate or windowless room. Doing so will only increase the dog’s anxiety and it will lead to destructive behavior.
- Don’t punish the dog. It simply does not work. Anxiety is a “cause and effect” disorder and punishment of any kind will only make it worse.
- Don’t get another pet hoping it will fix the problem. Dogs usually develop anxiety problems because of separation from their humans. Getting another “companion” pet usually won’t help. The dog isn’t lonely, it is afraid of being separated from you.
Dogs can become anxious about many things but one of the most common stressors is separation. This can happen when a puppy wanders from the warm comfort of his or her mother and littermates. Anxiety might afflict a teenage pup that is frightened when left alone in the house. Or, it may happen to an adult dog that has been scared by strange sights, sounds, or smells when left home alone.
If your dog suffers from anxiety, then this brief article should help you help your best friend. At Love and Kisses Pet Sitting we always want the best for you and your pet. We welcome your questions and comments at any time. Also, please contact us if any of our listed services can help you.