Separation anxiety 101

Usually, separation anxiety is diagnosed by 3 criteria:

1️⃣ A dog is howling, whining and/or barking when left home alone.
2️⃣ Destructive behavior (destroying things).
3️⃣ Untidiness (leaving pee spots and poop piles while the human is away).
To diagnose separation anxiety, there must be at least 2 criteria present.

What every dog parent should remember is that separation anxiety is not “mischievousness”. It is a disorder that needs treatment.

Some humans are so annoyed with their dog’s behavior that they take their anger out on them, but this only makes the problem worse. A dog cannot battle and control separation anxiety alone.

Don’t mistake separation anxiety for other problems: unintended learning when owners unconsciously reinforce the howling, or boredom.

You can set up a camera to understand why your dog is whining or howling when you are not home.

Other symptoms that might mean your pet has separation anxiety include unease, excessive salivation, vomiting, sometimes diarrhea or self-harm (for example, self-biting).

There are ways to teach your pet to stay at home alone and battle separation anxiety:

1️⃣ Create good life conditions for your dog. No one can behave well in bad conditions.

Unless you make sure your dog has the 5 freedoms of a dog (check our post on 14 things to know before you start training), any behavior correction is doomed.

2️⃣ Use relaxation protocols to teach your dog to relax first in a calm environment, and then – in the presence of stimuli.

3️⃣ Slowly teach your dog to stay alone – first, in a separate room with the door open, then – the door closed, then – in the apartment. There are exercises that are aimed at training dogs to calmly stay alone. You can also contact a behavior correction specialist.

4️⃣ Your dog can get a prescription for medicines that will help overcome the problem from a vet. But never do self-medicating!

Never punish your dog! Punishment will only deepen the anxiety and the overall problem.

If your four-legged friend truly suffers from separation anxiety and can’t stay at home alone because of that, you’ll have to be patient: this problem takes quite a long time to get better.

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