5 Ways To Prevent Sepa­ra­tion Anx­i­ety

Are you guilty of ac­ci­den­tally nur­tur­ing your dog’s sepa­ra­tion anx­i­ety?


Are you guilty of ac­ci­den­tally nur­tur­ing your dog’s sepa­ra­tion anx­i­ety?

Many of us un­wit­tingly foster sepa­ra­tion anx­i­ety in our dogs. Here’s how you can mod­ify your own be­hav­iour to cul­ti­vate a healthy sense of se­cu­rity in your dog.

1 Are You and Your Dog Joined at the Hip?

Let­ting your dog get used to 24/7 com­pan­ion­ship is a disaster in the mak­ing. You may be avail­able round the clock to­day, but cir­cum­stances can change un­ex­pect­edly. Help your dog be­come com­fort­able spend­ing time alone be­fore it is ever a ne­ces­sity. My favourite first step for alone train­ing is to cul­ti­vate a jaws-er­cise ad­dic­tion. When your dog sali­vates at the prospect of a long lus­cious date with a favourite food-stuffed chew toy as you pre­pare to leave the house, you’ll know you won’t be too des­per­ately missed!

2 Don't Smother Your Dog with At­ten­tion to Al­le­vi­ate "Sepa­ra­tion Guilt"

Lav­ish­ing your dog with con­tin­u­ous at­ten­tion when to­gether cre­ates an un­nec­es­sar­ily BIG con­trast ef­fect when you are apart. The very be­hav­iour that soothes your guilty con­science can hin­der your dog’s healthy in­de­pen­dence. Blur the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing home and away by mak­ing sure you aren’t al­ways fawn­ing over her, or al­ways at her beck and call. A baby gate across the hall­way while pre­par­ing a meal, or some time be­hind a closed door while on­line or buried in a good novel, will help re­duce the con­trast be­tween your pres­ence and your ab­sence.

3 Make Sure Your Dog Can Sleep Solo

While there is ab­so­lutely NOTH­ING wrong with shar­ing the sofa and bed with your fur-friend, mak­ing sure she can get some shut eye in a por­ta­ble dog­gie den is not cruel—it is sim­ply good plan­ning. You never know when she will need to spend the night with­out you at another home, the vet­eri­nary clinic, or a board­ing fa­cil­ity. Be­ing ac­cus­tomed to sleep­ing alone in a crate or ex-pen can prevent a night apart from be­ing trau­matic and trig­ger­ing sepa­ra­tion anx­i­ety.

4 Cul­ti­vate A Healthy Sense of Se­cu­rity and Sta­bil­ity in Your Dog

Dogs suf­fer­ing from sepa­ra­tion anx­i­ety make bet­ter progress in their train­ing pro­grams when a “noth­ing in life is free” rule is in­voked: the dog has to com­ply with a re­quest be­fore be­ing granted some­thing he wants. Learn­ing that there are pre­dictable ways of ma­nip­u­lat­ing their en­vi­ron­ment, such as be­ing picked up by sit­ting on com­mand, or get­ting to eat sup­per by stay­ing “off” the dish un­til in­vited to “take it” prob­a­bly de­creases anx­i­ety by build­ing con­fi­dence and re­duc­ing feel­ings of help­less­ness. Struc­ture such as this breeds a sense of se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity. Give your dog the psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits of struc­ture be­fore an anx­i­ety prob­lem de­vel­ops: ask her to do more than just lap up your af­fec­tion—teach her con­struc­tive ways of ma­nip­u­lat­ing the world around her.

5 Pro­vide Your Dog with Op­por­tu­ni­ties to Pur­sue In­ter­ests Other Than You

Healthy af­fec­tion is but one of the in­gre­di­ents to keep­ing your dog off Prozac. Like us, dogs need much more than love for emo­tional well­ness. En­abling your dog to pur­sue in­ter­ests other than you—in­ter­ests that pro­vide phys­i­cal, so­cial, and in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­la­tion—will en­sure that be­ing needed, a nat­u­rally grat­i­fy­ing part of guardian­ship, isn’t what de­fines the re­la­tion­ship. Re­mem­ber, cul­ti­vat­ing con­fi­dence and in­de­pen­dence in your dog so that she can en­joy time apart from you is a sure sign of healthy love.

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