Separation Anxiety - overcoming and prevention

Pati Robins

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I hope you dont mind me posting here - i wrote this few weeks ago and tonight i managed to finish it ;) hope it will help someone

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Separation Anxiety - what do you need to know

1) What is separation anxiety?
It is a psychological term describes a "disorder" in which an animal experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation
from home or from people whom the animal has a strong emotional attachment (for an example the animals owner or the house animal lives in ).
Im writing here as a dog owner -but this could apply to any animal .Stress levels in a dog that suffres from separation anxiety can vary greatly in each and individual dog -just like with us humans.Some animals need to be right by their owners or at least be able to see them , some are more comfortable with only hearing their "parents" in the house up untill the point their beloved owner leaves , there are also those who could be fine left on their own for a while before experiencing sings of anxiety and distress .Having had a pleasure to live with several different breeds,ages and backgrounds dogs - i noticed that most of my companions (i will repeat here that im only writing this form my own experience ) that came from shelters , or abusive homes experienced different degrees of separation anxiety , as well as pups -but with pups i think it is easier and faster turn this negative experience into more "positive one"

2) Prevention
As well as with puppies and older dogs we need to teach and show them that us as our animals main caretakers leaving the house is one of the natural and reoccurring situations -and practicing leaving and returning home in a calm manner is the key
What i mean by this is - when you return home rather than greeting your baby first (and this is coming from the person that does it for most the time ) you walk in ,you unpack your belongings let your dog goo potty and when your dog is calm enough both of you can have some playtime and a nice treat
I always said that when you are leaving the house and make too much fuss - it might create more problems in the future -i got 2 kongs 1 each for my girls and i used to fill them up when they were younger before i was due to leave the house - they soon associated kong as a cue that i will be soon leaving and that when i return there will be some treats and playtime - this worked for me on quite a few dogs with young pups i also try and teach them to relax - if you crate training you probably at some stage experienced crying
and barking pup that simply will not settle - i would keep a crate in one quiet area where pup can smell "familiar smells"have few chews and toys ready along with treats when your pup seem to be comfortble and relaxed close the gate and take a few steps back and try not to speak to the puppy . give it few minutes and open the door reapaeat ths while slowly increasing time and distance - it will help pup in the future to associate his or her crate as a safe area where it can relax and adapt to being left alone - calmly praise your pup and don't forget a well deserved treat


3) what not to do when dog is crying and barking
Some people seem to think that best training tool for a crying and barking dog or a puppy is eater screaming at them to "shut up" or spraying them with water or worse shocking them with shock collars. if you put yourself in a stressful
situation - imagine something you are scared off and every time you cry for help someone spray water in your face or shock you with a collar - will this make you not scared of a certain thing or a situation? - no it will make matters worse
if you apply those techniques to a dog or a pup as a method to help him or her to "relax" in the crate or a confined area
- the dog will associate those area with bad things - he or she might not bark - but it will dread every time he will have to be confined - therfore increasing his anxiety levels

4) a story of a Velcro dog,The destroyer & barker

My deaf girl shy was called a Velcro dog as she would not relax when we weren't around -she used to lie down on our feet so she could feel when we are standing up and then followed us whenever we go - it was quite difficult for us to "teach her" that it is ok to relax and stay where she was while it was time for us to leave
She is the best example that you dont need to let your dog know that you are just about to leave the house - she is deaf! - dogs are smart ! smarter than we sometimes think they are -saying that im looking at my clueless bulldog face right now and trying to rethink if this statement applies to Lilly , anyway back to my point - dogs know you are about to leave the house- just like veterans with ptsd - ceratin things will trigger their anxiety - be it taking your shues out of cabinet or taking your house keys -with my Velcro dog - as soon as she saw me taking my keys out of the key holder she was right by the doors jumping to go out with me.- it was particuary hard for me to explain to a deaf dog that mummy is only taking rubbish out and be right back ;)

-Destroyer I also had a pleasure -and a very cost full pleasure of fostering what i could call jaws of steel - suffering from separation anxiety -with big almond shaped eyes . With her as with my Velcro dog it was a similar story , she was comfortable as long as one of us was in her line of view or hearing - but as soon as we left she would be staring through the window -and when we came back- our house was pretty much chewed here and there - so my plan of action here was to take her out for a very long walk and tire her out a bit , left her in a safe confined area - kitchen - as she chew on few of my thing there might as well she stay there while im gone with appropriate and long lasting chewing toys and filed kongs and rather than saying long goodbyes - i said "be good" and left praying that i will still have cupboards left when i come back - i admit having a crate here would be handy - but this not so little lady destroyed metal crate in 10 days- i never knew this was possible until having her x -i used the same technique as i wrote in point no 1 when coming back - it took us few good weeks to make her comfortable with being left alone

Story of a barking and anxious dog is the closest to me as most of my pups were like this when we were leaving the house some of them were poopers too (even after they went poty) - this is most common sign for separation anxiety - if you wait a while longer after you closed your door you can hear that those barks are different from any other barks

5) Plan of action
If you have a puppy - this can apply to an adult dog but it will take time please look at point 2
relaxing techniques :
"with young pups i also try and teach them to relax - if you crate training you probably at some stage experienced crying and barking pup that simply will not settle - i would keep a crate in one quiet area where pup can smell "familiar smells" have few chews and toys ready along with treats when your pup seem to be comfortable and relaxed close the gate and take a few steps back and try not to speak to the puppy . give it few minutes and open the door reapaeat ths while slowly increasing time and distance - it will help pup in the future to associate his or her crate as a safe area where it can relax and adapt to being left alone - calmly praise your pup and dont forget a well deserved terat"

" desensitization" (also applies to puppies)
This is basically - training your dog to not "care" if you come and go -at this point you will probably think im mad -this
will be hard! - but with a bit of daily practice and given time this will work
allocate few "i ignore you " short sessions during the day - by "few" i mean 10 times a day -this will get your dog used to not getting attention it wants -therfore learning how to cope when you are gone .Im not saying that not paying attention to your fur baby is a good thing - but your aim here is to teach your dog to cope when you are not there to give him or her attention he needs
start with walking out of the room your dog is closing the door behind you -and walk back in after 10 seconds not paying attention to your dog (dont look at him or her - you will melt and give in !) continue to do something in the room that your dog is - have a look at the book change tv channel -anything - reapeat this few times and every week slowly increase the time (you will know when its long enough not to stress your dog )
after your dog is comfortable with you leaving the room - its time to go outside -start from you backyard - walk out and close your door wait 10 seconds walk back in , grab your coffee and go back outside eventually try and "disapear" put of your dog view only to reaper few moments later - basically you are doing same "exercise" as you were doing "inside" the house
The key to it is little and often and then increasing the time you are unavailable for your fur babies so you can be gone
for half an hour twice a day without the dog kicking off
"chew happy"
This is my favorite thing - a love a good trade and a reward-who doesn't ?
take your dog for a walk - a tired dog is a happy and less destructive dog ,
we start the same routine mentioned in a desensitization method but with a bonus ;) - we will associate you leaving with a good thing - in my dogs cases "filled kong"
place the dog in his area-bed, sofa, crate then give him/her a stuffed Kong 10 minutes before you get ready. (something to keep him occupied) keep calm and ignore go out the door, close it-lock it sometimes the trigger is a sound of the key being turned , count to 10 then come straight back in.repeat this (in short sessions) untill your dog simply dont care or think you are going mad , sometimes the trigger can be a sound of the car - so you woul need to open and close the door , and eventually increase it to turning engine on and off.Very slowly begin to increase the time, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes and so on....Once you can leave for 30 minutes, you can then build this into hours, again 1 hour, 1 hour 30 mins, 2 hours etc.
I know this sound like a hard work - but you are helping your dog to relax and reach both of your goals (dog-to tackle
separation anxiety, you - to have a house that isnt chewed up and a happy neighbors)
Very slowly begin to increase the time, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes and so on. REMEMBER you are setting the dog up to succeed.

I hope this will be any use for anyone ,and at least your home will not be eaten by the stressed dog again :D
 

Davidh

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Re: separation anxiety -overcomming and prevention

Great info Pati [MENTION=9105]Pati Robins[/MENTION]
 

bullmama

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Re: separation anxiety -overcomming and prevention

Excellent information Pati! This is such great information I am going to stick it.
 
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Pati Robins

Pati Robins

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Thank you both xxxx
 

ddnene

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Pati, this article is fantastic!!! I have not dealt w/this yet w/any of my dogs… but I will be ready if the time comes… Lol
 
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Pati Robins

Pati Robins

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Thank you Tracey - i wasnt very lucky as most of my rescues and fosters had displayed different levels of anxiety -but it helped me with training pups to be cool with the fact that they have to stay while im going -so far with lilly and shy as pups i haven't had anything destroyed while they roamed the house 😃
 

Fleviuss

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Thanks for the informations. Ivan sometimes shows his anxiety when we're going out. I'll try with your suggestions!!
 
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Pati Robins

Pati Robins

I'm Polish what did you expect! A lady like person
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Jun 12, 2013
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Lily (British Bulldog) & Shy (American Bulldog X)
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Let me know how you get on xxx
 

RJ Abella

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Thank you for the article! I am fostering a rescue 3 year old man and trying to help take away some of his separation anxiety. He barks like crazy when I leave for work. I've seen people give treats and reward the dog after the enter and ignore the dog for a little and if the dog is calm. Would you recommend that?


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Parismommy143

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Ok but what about when she too clingy like everywhere I move she moves when I wake up she will wake up out here deep sleep and follow me around when I got use the restroom she's either next to me or by the door it's starting to get a lil annoying idk what wrong with her she just started being this way however I do travel for work for a moth or two at a time Paris is then home with her daddy 247 but when I'm home she with mommy somebody help lol she 8 months by the way
 

2BullyMama

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Ok but what about when she too clingy like everywhere I move she moves when I wake up she will wake up out here deep sleep and follow me around when I got use the restroom she's either next to me or by the door it's starting to get a lil annoying idk what wrong with her she just started being this way however I do travel for work for a moth or two at a time Paris is then home with her daddy 247 but when I'm home she with mommy somebody help lol she 8 months by the way


This is typical Bulldog behavior.... the are all about being with their human. Some call them 'shadows' or 'Velcro dogs'
 

Evilo

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Well written and very helpful. Thankfully we don't have that problem I think he likes it best when we leave but once he knows work is over and I'm home he is stuck like glue to me. I wear a uniform to work and I think he associates it with being his alone rest time ( I'm not sure just guessing). We never made a fuss leaving or coming back and that has worked well.
 

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