Do you know a dog who suffers from separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety can develope very quickly in our dogs if we’re not careful. What most owners don’t realize is that they are often contributing to their dog’s struggle. Unknowingly humans try to comfort their dogs when they show any signs of being uncomfortable. When we do this we are in essence reinforcing the behavior we are trying to prevent or stop. If your dog is howling in the crate and you feel sorry for him and open the door, the act of opening the door is giving him a reward, just like if you gave him a treat. Soon he would get the message that when he’s crated the only thing he needs to do in order to get the door open is make a bunch of noise. Most of the time, like clockwork the people will open the door just to stop the howling. Your dog now has you trained! This can progress to the point where you have to always have someone at the house with the dog. They can never be left alone even for a few minutes because all hell will break loose.
I like to say that separation anxiety happens because of too intense of a bond with certain dogs. The reason I say this is because not all dogs get so easily attached even if we spend a ton of time with them and shower them with affection. Having healthy boundries is one way to prevent separation anxiety from happening.
I like to think of farm dogs, they spend day in and day out right with the farmer. They have a very close bond but at the end of the day the majority of them do not struggle when the farmer has to go to the supermarket or the doctor’s office. Why? Maybe it’s because they spend the day together, but the farmer doesn’t allow his best friend in the bed. Maybe it’s because the dog has a healthy outlet for his energy, working around the farm. Maybe it’s just because some dogs are capable of intense bonding but also accept distance and being left behind more easily.
What exactly is separation anxiety? Many times separation anxiety looks like a lot of whining, barking, drooling, and panting, whenever the owner leaves the room or the house. In extreme cases dogs will destroy property or break out of even the most heavy crates in an effort to get to their person. Some dogs will even chew through doors or break windows to find their owners.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic you can watch a recent facebook live that I did. Denise of https://www.familyk9training.com/ and I discussed the topic in detail.
If you are in need of hands on help with your dog please check out our extended board and train packages