Up to 20% of dogs suffer separation anxiety. This disorder manifests itself when the dog is left alone or that his family members are absent, even if another person stays with him. Separation anxiety can be translated in different ways: barking, destruction at home, escape attempts, self-mutilation.
Many people try to find a solution to relieve separation anxiety, thinking about avoiding material damage caused by a dog or the barking that could bother the neighbors. But beyond this, we have to believe that the primary beneficiary will be the dog itself. Separation anxiety is a source of suffering for dogs, and it is our duty, as a human being who watches over their well-being, to do everything in our power to help them get better.
Use these five tips for crating dogs with separation anxiety.
Tire the dog out
As we recommended in this other article, before trying any different technique, the first step will be to make sure you “tire” the dog before leaving him alone. And to tire, a dog does not only consist of running it or throwing the ball for hours. To be in optimal condition, a dog needs both physical and mental fatigue. You need to spend energy running, walking and playing, but you also need to sniff, investigate your surroundings, and develop social relationships.
Give the dog a special toy when you leave
Kong no longer needs a cover letter. In the beginning, it is a toy brand, but they became famous for a specific product: the toy refillable with goodies. Beyond the toy itself, which allows the dog to be entertained for a long time, disconnecting his brain from the primary source of anxiety (thinking “I have been left alone”), the trick is to give it only at the time of leaving. In this way, you will end up associating this with positive reinforcement.
Use olfactory rugs
Olfactory rugs are carpets composed of several pieces of fabric, among which we can hide sweets and other prizes. The dog has to use his nose to find them. Also, his snout and legs to reach them and finally eat them. The rugs provide a simple way to provide entertainment and a reward.
Leave a family member’s garment
We know that the smell of dogs is much more potent than that of human beings. For a dog suffering from separation anxiety, the smell of the members of its human family is an excellent source of tranquility. You can try to leave some garment of yours (we recommend that it be old) that you have previously worn. Yes, this tip may sound somehow to you, but it must work. Your dog doesn’t care much that your shirt still smells like a “wildflower” fabric softener. He prefers to smell you.
Pheromones relieve separation anxiety
Pheromones are chemical substances that all living beings give off. Dogs are particularly sensitive to them and perceive them through smell. There are different types of pheromones to transmit various types of messages. For example, when their pups suck, the dogs secrete pheromones that soothe them. It is these pheromones that have been synthetically recreated in the laboratory for use in products sold commercially. There is a wide range, from collars to electric diffusers, through pills or sprays.
Use ambient noise at home
Another trick is to leave on ambient noise in another room (television, radio with chat.) to make it appear that someone is home. Not to mention the podcasts and programs that have been developed, especially for dogs in recent years. Far from “cheating the dog,” making him think that he is not alone at home, these channels have developed a complete program that is supposed to be interesting for dogs. On the antenna, images are alternated to reassure, entertain, or recreate your day to day dog. We have not been able to prove it, but we fear that the day will come when the dog will participate in the family debate of “what do we see tonight?”
Find the solution that works for your dog
No one solution works for all dogs. Sometimes a combination of methods works best.
So be patient and find the methods that work best to help your dog.
Mike Steve is a pet lover, passionate blogger, and writer from the U.S. He’s worked at the Alpha Dog Training Center. He started petshaunt.com to provide information about choosing the right products for your dog.