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Preventing Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Tips and Exercises for a Happy Pet

The dog’s inability to remain alone and the resulting actions, such as barking, destructiveness, peeing in the house, etc., can be attributed to separation anxiety, which can be a real behavioural problem.

Separation anxiety is a common problem in dogs, but there are steps you can take to prevent it. This article will discuss the best ways to prevent separation anxiety in dogs.

Preventing Separation Anxiety in Dogs. Separation anxiety and how to prevent it in dogs is a relatively recent issue, as our relationship with dogs has changed considerably in recent years. Our four-legged friend has become a full family member and shares every moment with us. This has improved the condition of the dogs, who are happy to spend more time with their human companions!

Sometimes, however, this strong involvement in family life touches some emotional elements our ‘friend‘ cannot handle, causing him some minor problems. The dog’s inability to be alone and the resulting actions, such as barking, destroying objects in the house, doing his business everywhere, etc., can be attributed to separation anxiety, which sometimes is a simple whim of our dog, but in other cases is a fundamental behavioural problem.

What are the triggers for a dog’s separation anxiety?

There can be several causes. As usual, there may be a genetic predisposition or some deficiency in maternal upbringing (e.g. puppies detached too early from their mother), but, in most cases, the dog develops this propensity because our relationship with him has become too morbid, and we do not devote enough time to developing his attitudes and abilities.

Broadly speaking, and greatly simplifying, the dog’s needs can be placed in three main areas:

  1. Care and protection: food, affection, a comfortable place, etc.
  2. Rules: an exact map of what the dog can do and what is not allowed
  3. Activities: walks, exploration, play, learning, toys against boredom, research and other olfactory activities.

In the first point (care and love for the dog), we have become very good at it, and it is rare that a modern dog lacks the affection and attention of its owner, let alone a comfortable, safe place and good quality food. Also, look at Pet Design, a combination of comfort and décor.

The lack of rules is one of the main reasons for separation anxiety in dogs.

The lack of rules is one of the main reasons for separation anxiety in dogs.
Start training early. Puppies are more easily trained than adult dogs, so it’s best to start training your dog to be alone at a young age.

On the part of rules, each of us has our idea derived from our way of being, and so, depending on the case, we may have the right balance or perhaps some shortcomings. Remember that, for the dog, rule and consistency determine safety, that everything is under your control and that nothing dangerous can happen.

Regarding activities, it is a very different matter; we are always very deficient. Humans have developed laziness and are often tired because they work too much and, therefore, no longer have a spirit of adventure.

On the contrary, the dog has remained fundamentally an animal with a rustic and wild soul, and its outstanding physical and mental abilities (think of its super-developed sense of smell) are rarely utilised and lie in a ‘corner’, causing the dog no little frustration.

On an emotional level, the element that can trigger this need to be constantly and only with you is the excess of attention that I would define as “dirty” (i.e. given at the wrong time). Give your dog something to do. Provide your dog with a safe and stimulating environment when you leave. This could include a puzzle toy, a chew toy, or a frozen Kong filled with food.

One of the dog’s main objectives is attracting the owner’s attention; he feels gratified and often realises he can achieve a goal or obtain something. There is nothing wrong with that, but as far as you are concerned, you probably love to lavish attention on your dog. The problem arises when this attention is given at the wrong time and triggers a mechanism of repetition or emphasis on the action the dog has just performed.

Positive reinforcement… wrong moment

The dog is agitated, jumping or barking: if at that moment you talk to him or, to calm him down, pick up a game, give him a bone or other similar action, your dog will, in a short time, become a hyperactive dog because, in this way, he gets positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement is not only when you reward your dog during your exercises, but it is every action you do other than remaining indifferent. For example, if the dog is agitated, anxious or afraid of something, you must wait to give him any attention until he has calmed down.

How to prevent separation anxiety with two simple exercises

exercise 1

Let’s look together at an activity to start setting the right concepts:

  1. With your dog on a lead, stand still near a tree, a post, a bench, or, if you want to work indoors, near something, you can tie up the information.
  2. Secure the lead and give the dog a command it knows, such as “wait, stay, stop etc.”, then move in front of it about 2 metres.
  3. If the dog:
  • They become agitated, and you remain impassive.
  • If they bark or cry, turn your back.
  • You return to the dog if they are quiet or sitting.
  • If they lie down, run to the dog.

4. Repeat the same scene but with a distance of 5 metres. If you are working from home, try going out the front door.

5. Try again at a distance of 10 to 15 metres. If you are at home and going out the door, make sure you disappear from his sight.

Regardless of the distance, the important thing is that you always maintain an indifferent attitude if he is agitated. That you turn your back if he cries or barks and, on the contrary, walk back towards him when he calms down.

This kind of exercise can help you make your dog understand that the best way to get attention is to remain calm and that, on the contrary, any exasperated attitude will always cause you to turn away.

Here are some tips on how to help your dog cope with being alone at home.
Make leaving and coming home a non-event. When you leave, don’t make a big fuss over your dog. Calmly say goodbye and leave. When you come home, don’t immediately greet your dog. Instead, settle in and calmly greet your dog for a few minutes.

exercise 2

The second exercise, which is the basis of prevention for separation anxiety, can be very helpful in training you to have the right attitude.

It is simple (but you will see that it is not easy) to follow a routine when the dog is left alone at home and greets you festively when you return.

When you enter the front door, instead of looking at or stroking him to return his festivities, remain quiet for a few seconds, preferably for a few minutes if he is particularly agitated.

Looking ahead, go and put down your phone and watch or change your shoes, etc., but always do everything without interacting with the dog. As soon as his euphoria subsides, maybe he independently sits down or goes to the kennel, then at that moment, unleash inordinate festivities on him.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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