Separation anxiety and dogs: 9 tips that sound good but are terrible ideas

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Written by Laure-Anne Visele, 16 May 2020. Based on Doggo article by the same author. Photo credits at the bottom of the post

Our clients often try tips from the internet or from the neighbour-who’s-had-dogs-all-his life before they call us, with often disastrous consequences for the poor dog.  

These are the top 9 don’ts that we’ve heard over the years: 

  1. Let the dog cry it out until he’s ‘used to it’: This often makes the dog’s aversion for being home alone a million times worse. 
  2. Anti-bark collar (yes, also the one with citronella): This is at best only focusing on the symptoms without addressing the cause and at worst animal abuse. Just don’t go there. That’s like slapping a kid in the face for crying. 
  3. Quickly alternating leaving and returning: This only makes the dog more alert to the tiniest signs of your impending departure.
  4. Totally ignoring the dog when you come home: This can be really tough on your dog, which would only make him more fragile next time he has to be home alone.
  5. Ignoring your dog when you are home together: You have a dog as a companion animal, he. If he is also socially isolated when you’re home, then he basically has no more social contact. 
  6. The crate as a magic solution: The crate can help reduce damage from destructiveness, that’s it. It doesn’t help the dog feel better about being home alone – regardless of how many wolf fanatics will tell you that “It feels safe. It’s like a den”. What’s more, some dogs are fine home alone as long as they are NOT in the crate.  
  7. The Kong as magic solution: A brain game can take the edge off at the start, but the dog can get just as upset as soon as he’s done with it. 
  8. Getting angry at the dog: A dog with separation anxiety is not being naughty. He is suffering. By getting mad at him, you’re only piling on the misery.  
  9. Taking a second dog: You can definitely try it, but prepare yourself for not one, but two dogs with separation anxiety.  

Do yourself a favour and do not try these ‘tips’ on your dog. If you suspect that your dog suffers from separation anxiety, get your dog screened by a dog behaviourist (we can do this for you free-of-charge). If the diagnosis is confirmed, the behaviourist will then help you with personalised advice for you and your dog.

Read more about our dog behaviourist services here (we serve clients from all over the world via live on-line consultations).

Photo credits: Dog in the shade, looking out the window. Found here, on PxFuel. No modifications made. Terms of use.

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