Separation Anxiety

For The Love of Animals is an independently owned and family operated business.

For The Love of Animals

A dogs way of communicating is by barking. Unwanted loud or excessive barking can annoy us, as well as neighbours. We don't want to completely stop a dogs barking since there are times when barking is needed to warn us of someone on our property or of some other danger they sense.

There are several reasons why dogs bark. It could be anything from someone or something on your property, boredom or a desire for attention. Making sure your dog gets enough daily exercise is one way to start getting the barking under control. They need to have brisk exercise daily to mentally stimulate them. The more bored your dog is, the more they will bark.

Sometimes your dog will bark uncontrollably while you are away. To help your dog get over their separation anxiety, there are several things you can do.

  • Start out by leaving or acting like you are leaving for a short time. Before the dog starts getting nervous and barking (this may be one second at first), come back. This way, you aren't rewarding barking, but rewarding relaxation and silence. Gradually extend the time you're gone, making sure you return before the dog gets anxious. If your dog is anxious even if you leave the room, then you will need to start by just taking several steps away from her while she remains relaxed. While going through this behaviour modification, go at your dogs pace, don't rush it.
  • Changes in our routine can help too. If the last thing you do before running out the door is put your shoes on, try putting your shoes on and doing something else first such as watch a bit of TV, something relaxing. Leaving the radio on may help as well. If you only set your alarm clock on weekdays, try setting it on weekends too, but stay home. This way your dog doesn't always associate certain routines with you always leaving.
  • Make sure to give your dog a lot of exercise at least 30 minutes before you leave, tired dogs are less likely to become anxious. Leave them their food and water, a chew toy and a cuddle buddy.
  • Don't punish your dog when you get home, nor give them a lot of attention. When you return, enter the door and say "Hello" then go about doing something else until your dog settles down and is quiet. Once settled, you can spend some time with your dog.
  • If needed, you can get someone to come in once or twice a day to help break up the long hours the dog is alone.

For older dogs, knowing the reason for the barking is a big part of finding the solution. Toys, games, training, and interaction all go a long way to help a bored or lonely dog. A tired dog is generally a better behaved dog. They are usually in a better state of mind when they are active. Boredom and loneliness can lead to other undesired behaviours as well. Get a variety of toys like Kongs, safe chew toys, Nylabones, etc., that will stimulate your dog's mind and give it something to do. Obedience lessons, a walk or playing fetch will help.

Courtesy of Marilyn Murray ~ For The Love of Animals