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How to help your dog

with separation anxiety

8 out of 10 dogs suffer from some form of separation anxiety today.

Here is our guide to understanding what it is, signs, and how to help your dog.

What is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety occurs when our dogs or pups are separated from us, and they become distressed, anxious or destructive.

Dog are sociable animals and if they are not taught that a little time on their own is ok, it can cause them great upset and anxiety.

RSPCA says that it is estimated that 8 out of 10 dogs suffer from some sort of separation anxiety.

Signs your dog or puppy is suffering from separation anxiety

Does your dog do any of these when you are about to leave them or return from leaving them alone?

  • start to howl or bark
  • begin to whine
  • start showing destructive behavior
  • pacing
  • panting
  • start to drool
  • have toilet accidents

How to help your dog or puppy with separation anxiety

1. The first thing you need to do is help your dog feel safe and comfortable being on their own

This takes time and patience, but it is so important that you commit to this stage, so that they grow to understand being alone is ok.

Get some tasty treats - chicken or chopped sausage and chose the place you would like your dog to stay when you go out.

Head to the place and put your dog's bed down.

2.  Now you are going to teach your pup/dog to stay in their bed. 

     Take every stage slowly and go at their pace. 

     Stay calm and remember this is all new to them and we want them to enjoy this and feel relaxed too!

  • Begin by encouraging them into the bed and giving them rewards of tasty chicken when they go in.
  • Once they have mastered that, you want to practice moving away from the bed, but them staying in it!
  • Start by taking 1 step back from them in the bed, then step back into them and reward them for staying sat.
  • Slowly and over time build up moving further away from your pup/ dog sitting in their bed. 
  • You return to them and reward them for staying in the bed. 

Remember to only reward them when they are in their bed and NEV ER punish them. 

 They are learning something new and they all learn at different paces.

 If your dog is struggling, go back a stage.

3. Now you want to start to move slowly and gradually out of the room and rewarding your dog on your return.

  • Next, build on the length of time you leave the room for. 
  • Build this up slowly, and reward your dog, in their bed every time you return.
  • Then you can start building up to going out of the house for 1 minute, then 5, then 10, then 20, 30, 40, to 1 hour.
  • Again, do this all gradually and at your dogs pace. 

If at any of these stages you see your dog beginning to become distressed, go back a stage and practice and repeat until they are relaxed again.

Other ways to help your dog cope when you leave them

  • Take them for a walk before you are planning to leave them. This lets them go to the toilet and get rid of some physical and mental energy.
  • Leave them with a safe toy. Filled KONGS are ideal for this, they keep dogs busy and mentally tire them out! Make sure you have the correct size of Kong for your dog and fill them with things that are dog safe and won't cause them to choke. (See our Kong filling recipes here)
  • Close the curtains and pop the radio or TV on for background noise. This way your dog won't be disturbed by noises or things going on outside.
  • If your dog is still showing signs of distress maybe think about getting a dog sitter in, who can be with your dog while you are out. They come to your home and stay with the dog.

  • Get professional help from a qualified dog behaviorist. They are trained to help you,  help your dog, with gentle, positive, training techniques.

  • Alternatively you could try doggy day care. Your dog gets to spend the day with other humans and dogs while you are out. This environment isn't for every dog, so do your research.

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