Separation anxiety affects a huge percent of the dog population, maybe as high as 14%. But this majorly stressful behavioral issue also happens to be one of the most misunderstood parts of dog training.
Why? Because naturally we as humans try to approach it from a human’s point of view rather than seeing the true cause. The answer to how to stop separation anxiety is clear and simple: you must show your dog that you are the pack leader.
Soon, I’ll get to some of the most common things dogs do to act out when they are experiencing separation anxiety. They must be recognized, but simply treating the symptom rather than the cause will get you nowhere.
Here’s one thing I want you to think of before we get into your anxious dog’s behavior: does the behavior stop when you return? If so, then obviously your being away is connected to the cause. Now, let’s look at the symptoms:
- Chewing – this helps calm them by releasing endorphins similar to what you experience when chewing gum
- Barking or Whining – this is your dog calling for you to return to the pack, like you would call for a lost child
- Escaping While You’re Gone – this is often destructive and sometimes dangerous. What’s happening is that your dog is searching desperately for you. It’s NOT because they need more exercise!
- Digging or Destroying Things – this is another way for your dog to display that they are extremely stressed and anxious
- Self-mutilation – your dog will display this through things like excessive licking or chewing of itself; it is a sign of stress
- Excessive Drooling – this is commonly and often incorrectly seen as a medical condition when in fact it is due to stress
- Toilet Accidents – if your dog is house trained but begins having accidents in your home, and it’s only occurring while you are away it is very likely to be caused by separation anxiety
There are 1000s and 1000s of articles online that will teach you how to deal with these symptoms (but I’d recommend watching video instead).
I’m not here to do that because that will fix nothing. To once and for all put an end your dog’s separation anxiety, you must attack the cause. You must become your dog’s pack leader.
Separation anxiety is really very simple. It occurs because your dog has come to see themselves as the leader of your pack. To them, you are no better than a puppy or other member of the pack.
In the wild, dogs will not wander away from the den on their own. But here in the real world, your dog’s separation anxiety will continue until you show them that you are the pack leader.
Then, and only then, will you be able to come and go from your home as you please without worrying about what kind of havoc is taking place back at the “den.” Need help? Start by checking out this video series on just that very subject!
P.S. You would make my day if you pin or share this article! ;))