It’s perfectly normal for dogs to miss their humans when they’re gone. They may express some mild signs of stress immediately after an owner walks out the door, such as howling or whining. Most healthy dogs can get over this initial moment of stress and wait for their owners to return without too much mishap. When the stress is prolonged or the behaviors are more extreme and destructive, however, it could be an indication of a deeper problem. Separation anxiety is the condition identified in dogs that exhibit behaviors like continuous barking or howling, salivating, panting, destroying furniture, having accidents in the house, or making escape attempts, usually around the time their owner gets ready to leave their home. Left untreated, a dog with separation anxiety will live a stressful, unhappy life at best, so it’s important to address these behaviors before they become a fixed aspect of your dog’s personality.
If you have a dog with separation anxiety, here are a few ways to help them grow more confident in your absence.
Downplay Leaving And Coming Home
It might be tempting to shower your dog with love and affection before and after you leave the house, but you may be reinforcing your dog’s stressed mindset if he has separation anxiety. The extra attention can signal to your dog you’re about to leave, and acting happy and excited upon your return can be interpreted as your dog’s 'reward' for being anxious during your absence. Instead of making departures and arrivals a big deal, try to downplay leaving and coming home. Keeping calm and emotionless shows your dog occasional separation is just part of the normal routine. If your dog acts extra excited when you come home, refrain from touching or looking at them until they calm down.
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