Dealing With Separation Anxiety
Does your dog bark like crazy when you leave the apartment? Do you come home to shredded couches, land mines in the middle of the living room floor, and death threats from neighbors posted on your door?
Separation Anxiety is a common problem. It’s also one of the biggest reasons why dogs are relinquished to shelters. It’s the most common, yet one of the easiest to address. He flips out when you’re gone because you are their world–they never learned to be alone.
The cure for separation anxiety is confidence. And we need your help to build it.
Here are some tips:
1. Daily, provide strict leash walks to establish the bond with you. The dog should not forge ahead. Walking is the ultimate opportunity to show your dog that you are the alpha, his leader. The leash is a tool to develop the trust and bond with your dog–show him how to walk correctly, and by doing so, he will also develop the bond. Dogs develop a sense of security with his leader through the leash.
2. Crate the dog. Your dog should not have free reign of your home. If not crated, give him space that he can call his own by creating a penned area with his bed. Den-like environments, where they are taught that such a space is their comfort zone, make them feel secure. Not only does this make them feel safe and secure, it also prevents them from destructive behavior such as chewing on your furniture. It makes them feel safe, and makes them safe, for they are not given the opportunity to rummage through the trash to pluck out that roast chicken carcass. He does not understand that chicken bones are going to cause delayed problems.
3. Tire them out. A tired dog is a good dog. The best cure for separation anxiety is fatigue. Let them be a dog. Let them run. Let them socialize. Don’t carry them, they want to walk, they want to sniff, they want to roll in the grass and wrestle with other dogs. Don’t put them in a purse. Give them a job–keep them busy.
4. Provide strict and reliable daily routines for them to follow. Walk them at the same time, and feed them at the same time every day. They thrive on consistency–knowing what’s next makes them feel secure.
5. When they follow you around the house profusely, tell them to go away–point at their bed, and tell them to go to bed. Teach them to be less needy and dependent on you.
6. If they are nervous and protest separation, don’t console them. Ignore them when they are whining. By speaking to them softly, picking them up, or hugging them when they are sad, you’re inadvertently reinforcing their anxiety. You’re rewarding them when they are anxious. Praise them only when they are behaving the way you want them to behave.
To them, speaking, hugging, touching–any kind of attention from you is a reward.
Do not reward them for their anxious behavior.
With these tips in mind, I’m sure that your dog will be as calm and confident in no time!