One of the most common problems a canine behaviorist handles is separation anxiety. It is easy to become frustrated when your dog has separation anxiety, and that frustration can be sensed by your dog making the situation that much more difficult.
What is separation anxiety, exactly? Separation anxiety is often thought to be simply as a dog who becomes upset when their guardian leaves the house. This is not always the case, though. A dog can experience separation anxiety, in severe cases, by their guardian just leaving the room.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety has a variety of symptoms but most commonly involves:
- Excessive salivation
- Excessive vocalization (whining, barking, howling)
- Chewing items in the house
- Urinating/defecating in the house
- Scratching the walls and floor in an attempt to escape
- Depression-like behavior
How Crate Training Can Help
Crate training can help significantly in reducing feelings of separation anxiety. If your dog is not familiar with their crate, they should not be placed in the crate for an extended period of time immediately. Instead, they should be placed in the crate for short periods of time to become comfortable. Be sure to place their favorite blanket and bone with them during their time in the crate.
Many times, dogs soon learn this is their ‘safe’ place. Be sure to leave the door open in case your dog wants to escape to his crate if there’s company, or even if he’s just tired.
The crate should be large enough so he is able to stand all the way up, and he should be able to turn around and get comfortable easily.
The Zen Crate
Recently, there has been a new development in the field of separation anxiety known as the Zen Crate. The Zen Crate is extremely impressive and has been shown to reduce separation anxiety, and anxiety in general, significantly. Read about the Zen Crate in the ‘Recommended Products’ page or search for Zen Crate in this blog.
Another option involves leaving your dog alone for short periods of time. This is a time-consuming option so be sure to set some time aside for the next couple of weeks if possible. If your dog has severe separation anxiety, start by just leaving the room for short periods of time, then go back to the room where your dog is.
Once he is comfortable with this, you can then move to leaving to another side of the house completely or even step outside for a moment, then come back in. You can then increase the amount of time you spend away from the home little by little. This will allow your dog to understand you will always come back and instill a sense of trust with you.