Separation Anxiety in Dogs There has been loads of people asking for advice about this recently, so I thought I would try and put some information all in one place. Please feel free to add any further advice Separation Anxiety Definition :- The term separation anxiety is not exclusive to dogs or even to veterinary medicine. It is a psychological term to describe the stress and anxiousness in an individual brought on by the leaving (perceived or imagined) of another individual. In the case of a pet, it is usually an anxiety brought on by separation from the primary pet caretaker. In the case of humans, anxiety in a child from being separated from a parent. What classifies as a "separation"? This varies greatly between animals: some must have "their person" within their line of sight, other pets are fine as long as the owner is within a comfortable distance (i.e. somewhere else in the house), and still others are fine until the owner leaves. Even finer distinctions would be animals that are fine for a certain period of time after their owner leaves, but then start to show signs of anxiousness some time later. Just like the variance in what stresses out each individual, the signs of separation anxiety vary greatly as well. Which Dogs can be effected by Separation Anxiety:- The answer to this is ANY! There are some breeds believed to be prone to SA. Some of these are German Shepherds, Airedales, Springer Spaniels, Australian Shepherds and Weimaraners, to name a few. This is not to say all of these dogs will not cope being left alone, as with all dogs it will vary greatly depending on the individual. Plus a higher number of dogs that come from a shelter or rescue home, seem to develop dog separation anxiety easily. These dogs might have gone through some severe trauma, or abandonment before ending up in the shelter and once they are placed in a home with an owner they can trust, they will start relying on that owner a lot faster than dogs that haven't experienced any trauma in their life already. Pups that leave their litter too early are also predisposed to SA. How to prevent your new puppy, or dog from being affected by Separation Anxiety :- Owners need to help their dog, or puppy to find a happy medium between companionship and becoming sufficiently independent to tolerate being alone for periods of time. Dogs do not electively engage in anxious behaviours. They develop over a period of time, and becomes a panic response. People must condition their dogs to stay calm when left alone. To condition means to get the dog used to specific things, situations and events. That's why it's important to practice leaving and returning to the dog frequently, starting when you first bring the dog into your home and family. Teach your dog from the start that your leaving the house is an ordinary, regular event. Help your dog build tolerance for your departures and absences. Calm departures and homecomings will help the dog to relax. When leaving do not have emotional goodbyes, this will not help the dog . Mummy “ ahh poor baby, will you miss mummy?” Kiss Kiss Kiss “Don’t worry mummy be back soon” Puppy Where’s she going, why all this fuss, that thing they call a coat, she only puts that on when she goes outside… I wanna go! Don’t want to stay on my own!!! Panic Response Alert !!! The same applies for your return. Take your coat off unpack the shopping, open your mail, then when the dog is calm let them outside to toilet. (Still not spoken to him) When he had been to the loo, then you can give him praise and a little play session. When you first bring home your bundle of fluff and needle sharp teeth, let them explore the outside area first ( get them used to going outside, it will help when toilet training, and big fuss for toileting outside.) Then take them inside letting them explore their new kingdom in stages. Have the dog's bed and bowl of water ready in a safe, well-lighted, comfortable confined area with "family smells", such as a gated-off kitchen, family room or crate placed in a family area. (Do not confine in basements, garages, storage rooms, or other non-family areas). This nice "den" will be the place in which she will stay when you are not home to supervise. Take her to that place, tell her lie down (guide her if she has not yet learned that command). Then give her one or two safe chew toys and praise her. Couple a food treat with the verbal praise. In fact, it's helpful to keep a small bag of tiny tipbit treats on you at all times during the acclimation and training phases. Next, close the door or gate to the room or crate, and step back. See if she is staying calm. Resist the urge to talk to the dog, since that will distract her from this desired, calm, relaxed behaviour. ( He should be shattered from his trip to his new home, and all that exploring) If she stays reasonably calm when separated from you for a minute or two, let her stay there as long as she seems comfortable. (See thread “Cages” in Dog Chat) If the dog is good in her confined area, this is a very good sign. You can begin to add calm, quiet verbal praise and an occasional food treat to this acclimation routine as a reward for being good and calm in her confined area. Over the next few days and weeks encourage your new pup or dog to sleep in his safe area. Slowly increase the amount of time they are left. A dog that is left regularly will become well adapted and sufficiently independent to cope with being alone. Also install baby gates so you dog learns to accept he cannot access you when ever he wants. He can see you, but cannot always get to you. Spend time training your dog to happily accept alone time will save you, your dog and you neighbours a lot of stress in the long run!