He is an incredibly sweet and adorable seven year old Beagle/Basset Hound mix. Chance’s owner’s contacted Zen Dog for help with Chance’s separation anxiety. Their other dog had recently passed away and Chance was now having a hard time being left alone for longer periods of time. It had gotten to the point where the neighbors with young children who trying to nap were complaining something had to be done.
Luckily, Chance’s owners decided to contact Zen Dog Training. We know that separation anxiety is preventable and responds well to treatment. An important first step is recognizing that dogs with separation anxiety are not misbehaving out of spite or boredom. Just like humans, dogs have feelings and strong emotional responses. We sometimes compare severe separation anxiety to how a person feels during a panic attack: scared, confused and overwhelmed!
Separation anxiety can be triggered by a life change such as moving, a sudden change in routine, long stay at the kennel or in this case the death of a companion. Along with the death of his dog companion, Chance was also being left for long periods of time, up to 10 hours, which was also contributing to his anxiety.
What Do I Do?
At Zen Dog Training we have several recommendations for helping dogs with separation anxiety. The most basic is to not allow your dog to shadow you around the house. We recommend using a baby gate or a tether while you’re home and ignoring him if he’s whining or barking. Doing this for short periods of time several times a day will teach him to get comfortable being “alone” when you’re home.
We always recommend an increasing cardio exercise as well as obedience training. Essentially, give him new challenges to mentally stimulate and tire him out. You can also start feeding him using toys like the Premier Busy Buddy Toys, so that he has to work for his food. Providing him feeding toys or some delicious teats when you leave will help soften the blow of being left alone.
Lastly we recommended practicing many, many short absences during the day. Start by leaving the house for just 2-3 seconds and then coming back in. Repeat this over and over until the dog becomes used to you leaving. Now extend the time you are gone to 10 seconds, 30, 5 minutes etc. Mix up how long you’re gone and help your dog learn that leaving doesn’t always mean a long period of time alone.
With all of this coming and going try to not make a big fuss about leaving the house or coming home. Acting cool and relaxed when you come and go will help him understand that you leaving or coming home is no big deal.
It’s important to remember that dogs are social animals and not well suited to be left alone all day. In situations where your dong will be left for 8-10 hours we recommend hiring a dog walker or doggie day care.
These tips will help with most dogs however, if you have a more serious case, please call Zen Dog Training or a professional dog trainer in your area.
For more information on separation anxiety visit Zen Dog Training Online.