Table of contents:
- It so happens that the dog does not remain calmly at home alone. She can howl, bark, gnaw and destroy furniture, go to the toilet. And she does it not necessarily out of boredom. It is about separation anxiety in dogs, or separation anxiety. No, the dog does not harm, does not do it out of spite, does not take offense because it was left. It's just that she is experiencing extreme stress from the fact that she was left alone. Sometimes there are times when a dog gives out a similar reaction only to the departure of one family member, while the absence of others does not bother her at all
- The most common behavioral signs of separation anxiety in dogs are:
- How to reduce anxiety?
- Six steps to a calm life
Video: About Separation Anxiety In A Dog - Society
It so happens that the dog does not remain calmly at home alone. She can howl, bark, gnaw and destroy furniture, go to the toilet. And she does it not necessarily out of boredom. It is about separation anxiety in dogs, or separation anxiety. No, the dog does not harm, does not do it out of spite, does not take offense because it was left. It's just that she is experiencing extreme stress from the fact that she was left alone. Sometimes there are times when a dog gives out a similar reaction only to the departure of one family member, while the absence of others does not bother her at all
Parting anxiety is also characterized by damage to the home environment in the area of windows or front doors. The dog tries to get out after the owners, believing that it was left at home alone by mistake.
The dog can get nervous when he sees the owner's fees and realizes that he is about to leave. She can not let a person out of the house, in every possible way preventing leaving. In some of my clients, the dog regularly jumped up the stairs and ran down, thus trying to be with the owner. Your dog may become nervous only after you leave. If the dog barks, the barking usually begins in the first minutes after the owner leaves and can continue during the entire absence, interrupting for some periods of time. The dog can also begin to destroy the situation almost immediately.
The picture of separation anxiety is multifaceted and varied. If you have seen photographs of the destroyed furnishings of the apartment, you will never forget them. Needless to say, the owners of anxious dogs live in serious stress? They don't know what they will see at home. In one of the client cases, the dog tried to get to the gas pipeline hose and only miraculously did not reach it. Water supply hoses are not uncommon (for example, in the kitchen under the sink).
The main thing to know is not a “breed characteristic”. This is a sign that your pet is severely stressed and can and should be dealt with. I imagine the owners of, say, a beagle, who, having read the breed groups, conclude that the problem is insoluble and that the only option is to put the pet in a cage (although this is completely wrong).
The most common behavioral signs of separation anxiety in dogs are:
- barking, howling;
- destruction of furnishings;
- attempts to get out, damage near windows and doors;
- defecation and urination, eating excrement;
- obsessive, stereotyped movements (running around the apartment, jumping, inability to stop).
In some cases, the dogs are quietly at home alone at their usual time, for example, from Monday to Friday. But if you leave unplanned in the evening or on the weekend, the anxiety of separation manifests itself.
Usually, the owners, discovering the house of destruction or puddles-heaps, punish the dog. This is meaningless: the dog does not see a causal relationship between the fact that she, nervous, gnawed two hours ago and the fact that the owner came and shouted at her. And her “guilty” look will only say that she is asking a person to calm down. This is how the dogs try to calm us down. The dog can associate the ripped pillow event and the owner's reaction to it. And then she will show reconciling signals for any ripped pillow. But this does not mean that she has an understanding that the pillow cannot be torn.
Any punishment drives the dog into even more stress. A well-to-do pet will not destroy an apartment in the absence of the owners. And her actions, which the owners do not like so much, are from despair. The dog is bad, it is experiencing real suffering. And to calm down, you have to gnaw. This is a natural biological mechanism. Or the dog is so nervous that he can't control his bladder or bowels. This is the action of stress hormones (remember the "bear" disease before exams). The dog can't stand it. And then the owner comes home and scolds the dog for nothing. It turns out to be a vicious circle.
Locking in a cage does not solve the problem, it only makes it worse. Increasing the load will not help either: instead of a dog with behavior problems, you will get an emaciated, exhausted dog with behavior problems.
How to reduce anxiety?
Check your pet's health. This is especially true for cases of uncleanliness or for older dogs who have problems with howling or destruction of the environment with age.
Teach the dog to stay at home alone at least in another room. You can close the dog, immediately open the door and praise and reward with delicious, attractive food. Do not use food for this, because the dog already gets it in the bowl - this is not a reward. And so several times so that the dog understands that the owners like it when she sits quietly alone. Do not try to do it immediately for two or five minutes - most likely, it is doomed to failure if the dog cannot endure even a minute. If the dog sits quietly outside the door for five minutes, and starts to scratch at the sixth minute, it is necessary to encourage it before the expiration of five minutes and release it. And so gradually increase the time.
Once this step has been mastered, you can leave the dog with something to eat or eat and open the door before he is done with it. And again, praise / encourage.
Start building contact with your dog. Praise and reward (be sure to reward, not just verbalize) whatever you like about her behavior throughout the day. This will give the dog confidence in himself and in the owner.
Trying to assess the stressors of a dog, although this is very difficult for a layman.
It can be:
- too busy walks;
- boring monotonous walks;
- lack of one's place or place in the corridor / on the aisle;
- the dog is not allowed into the living quarters;
- the dog is locked in a cage;
- the dog has always been at home with someone, and suddenly the family's lifestyle has changed;
- no or insufficient intellectual load;
- the dog is overexcited all the time (owners often mistakenly consider this a cheerful disposition);
- the use of inhuman ammunition (strangleholds, jerk chains, strict or electroshock collars);
- the use of inhumane teaching methods (jerking a leash for a collar, physical punishment, moral suppression);
- lack of individual attention and walks when there are other animals at home;
- obsessive attention of children;
- constant touching with or without;
- nervous situation in the family;
- isolating the dog from family members at night;
- excessive training;
- total control.
This is just a short list of what can lead to stress in your dog and, as a result, to separation anxiety. Each dog has different triggers for the onset of anxious behavior. For one, this is turning the key in the lock, for the other, putting on certain clothes by the owner. It is important to gradually decrease the significance of this trigger. How can this be done? If the dog is worried about turning the key in the door, you should periodically go out, close and immediately open the door. And reward the dog for being calm. If this is a jacket, then you can just put it on and read a book in it or sit at the computer. Thus, the connection between a certain action and your actual departure begins to break.
In case of separation anxiety, the dog may not be interested in toys or food. And this will be completely natural given the level of stress that she is experiencing.
The psychological state of the owner in such situations is very important. Many people, which is understandable, begin to anxiously prepare themselves for separation from the dog. They can kiss goodbye, get nervous during training camps. The emotional state of a person is always transmitted to the pet. And then he thinks: "Oh, my master is nervous, it means that something incomprehensible is happening, I'll start worrying too!" And this greatly "warms up" the stress in the dog.
Calm confident goodbye, predictable words, for example, "I'll be in the evening", "You are in charge", help the dog to understand that the situation is ordinary.
What happens when you return? The dog is ready for joy to knock a man down. The owner starts hugging her, stroking her, happily talking. This provokes excessive arousal of the dog, which is not very beneficial for its nervous system and gives too much reinforcement for such behavior. What is the best way to proceed? At the entrance, it is best to say to the dog: "Hello" - and calmly, not paying attention to it, undress. And only when the dog has calmed down can it be greeted again, thereby showing that we are ready to communicate with it only when it is calm.
Six steps to a calm life
- Check the dog's health, especially if the dog is over seven years old or if the problem started suddenly;
- to teach to stay at home alone, including in another room when people are at home;
- try to identify stress factors;
- define triggers and get started with them;
- introduce calm rituals of leaving and returning home;
- in no case should the dog be punished for what it has done at home alone.
Ideally, these behavioral problems should be addressed with a professional. And the earlier the problem started, the faster it will be addressed.
It is not a question of dog training and conventional training methods will not help. These are precisely the problems associated with the peculiarities of behavior, therefore it is necessary to contact a behavioral specialist (zoopsychologist) who inspires your confidence. Many specialists work remotely, via video communication, and this is also a good option.
Making a dog's life prosperous is not only a desire, but also a duty of the owner
And then everyone will have a calm, happy life - both people and animals!