a The Happy Puppers (Dog care, grooming, behavior and training)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

2021 resolutions for responsible dog guardians

December 31, 2020 0

 It is the time of the year to take some new resolutions to ensure a better 2021 for your dog.

2020 has been a one-of-a-kind year for all of us. From coronavirus to lock down to difficulty in finding veterinary services, times have been really tough. Now as 2020 comes to an end and 2021 begins, I see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. As responsible dog guardians, let’s make a few new resolutions for the new year so that we can provide our pups and dogs a better quality of life and a better year overall. While we do take resolutions for ourselves like, exercising more, going on a diet, staying more active, drinking more water, achieving a certain set of goals etc., we often land up ignoring the resolutions we owe our dogs. The joy and happiness that we receive every day from our dogs, they deserve a little bit from us in return as well. So here are a few resolutions you can include in your list of resolutions which can make your dog’s life so much better.

 

2021 resolutions for all dog guardians
2021 resolutions for all dog guardians

  1. Learn more about dog first aid

Dogs are restless animals. They love to play, bite, chew, claw etc. it’s impossible for a dog to not get hurt in the billing process. Most of us are not lucky to the limit to have a veterinarian stay with us 24/7. Thus, it is of utmost importance that as dog guardians, we educate ourselves about dog first aid also have a first aid kit ready in case a sudden need arises. The first part of understanding dog first aid is how to control bleeding whose details you will find in thehappypuppers blog.

 

  1. Measure the quantity before giving the food to your dog.

Just like humans, dogs can also become overweight due to excessive feeding or free feeding. A few breeds like Labradors have a tendency to gain weight very easily. Such breeds should never be free fed food. Thus, make a resolution to always keep a check on your dogs food quantity so that you can prevent him or her from becoming obese. As per a recent survey, 54% of the dogs in the United States have been classified as either being overweight or obese while in UK,  60% of the vets are concerned about obesity as the biggest dog health concern. Thus, the number one goal of your new year should be to prevent overfeeding. Read the instructions on your pet food package very carefully and measure the food accurately before feeding it to your dog.

 

  1. Take a resolution to give your dog regular exercise

This year we saw a lot of ups and downs, we could not take our dogs out for walks because of the  lock down. However it is time that you take a resolution to make sure that your dog gets the adequate amount of exercise daily in the year 2021. Whether you are stuck indoors, have office work or are under lock down by the mandates of your government, your dog’s  regular exercise  must not be put in the back burner at any cost. If you don’t know how to keep your dog engaged or busy when indoors or how to exercise your dog if you cannot go out, follow the hyperlinks to gain information about the same. You can also make a few homemade dog toys for your pooch.

 

  1. New training and tricks

So you have orderly torture pup the commands of sit, down, rolled over, stand, speak, come here etc.  Why not each your dog a few new tricks this year? Training your dog not only makes your dog more obedient and instills a sense of discipline in them, it also increases the bond you have with your pup. You can know more about you and your dog by clicking here.

 

  1. Try out a new activity

Are you a person who goes on hikes, bike riding, sledding, kayaking or fishing? If you do any of these, why not take your dog along with you? If you don’t do any of these why not start a new hobby with your dog? Doing activities together will not only strengthen your bond but it will also reinforce your dog’s brain with all the commands that he or she knows. This will act as a bonding experience as well as a good exercise time both for you as well as your dog.

 

  1. Promise yourself to have more playtime with your dog

With the lifting of the lockdown, a lot of dogs have  since suffered from elevated separation anxiety due the sudden absence of their parents. Playtime is a great way to reduce your dog’s anxiety. It also tires out your dog and make your dog more obedient the commands. Fix a time every day to play with your dog and try to not dedicate that time to any other work. Dogs are creatures of habit. If there is any change in their schedule it can cause an unrest in their minds. Thus, always make sure to stick to the schedule you have decided on.

 

  1. Annual veterinary checkup of your dog

Just like readable for regular health checkups, our dogs also deserve the same. Fix up an annual appointment with your vet and get your dog regularly checked. This will not only help your veterinarians detect any potentially life-threatening problems early, it will also keep your mind at ease.

 

  1. Update the ID information of your dog

Have you change houses, your phone number, or lost your dog’s ID tag? If there is any kind of information that needs to be updated on your dog’s ID, now is the time to do it. Get your dog’s ID tag and microchip information updated so that you are all ready and set for 2021.

 

16 new year resolution for dog guardians
16 new year resolution for dog guardians

  1. Remove the old and potentially harmful toys

There are times we need to clean our houses, and remove the clutter that has accumulated the. Similarly, in case of your dog, there may be old toys which may have become germ infected, are super dirty or just old and hanging by a thread. This is the time to clear others with toys and get some fresh new ones for your pup. If you want you can also make some homemade dog toys (you can find the details here) for your pup as a homemade new year gift.

 

  1. Grooming time

Grooming is not something which needs to be done when you see your dog to the groomers. You can do a little bit of your dog grooming right in the safety of your home. Grooming not only removes the excessive fur from the coat’s, it also allows the board your love your dog to get distributed from the first to the coat. This allows the court to be shiny and healthy. Furthermore, grooming your dog can act as a bonding time between you and your pup. Dogs are very sensitive creatures. Just like the understand someone is ignoring them, they can feel your love and care when you groom them regularly. So go ahead, add this to your New Year’s solution and fix a schedule.

 

  1. Take a resolution to create a happy safe and caring home for your dog.

We love our dogs and they would not want anything bad to happen to them. Since our dogs spent most the time in either the backyard, garden or home, it is our responsibility to make the space as safe for them as we can. You can do this by making sure that all the potentially harmful substances like medications or cleaning products are kept inside locked cabinets which your dog cannot easily open or reach. You can also introduce some dog friendly creations to help you keep your home tidy and clean.

 

  1. Do more research on the natural ways to keep your dog healthy

The last thing we want is for our dogs to fall sick. However, it is inevitable. That dreaded day always comes in every dog guardian’s life when their dog sick. However, having the prior knowledge of holistic medications and natural approaches for immediate treatment of your dog can be of immense help during emergency situations. I will add links of the articles which are focused on natural treatment options to keep your dog  healthy and happy.

  1. Learn more about dog psychology

As a dog guardian, there is nothing better than if you can understand what your dog is trying to communicate to you. Learning the body language of your dog and how dogs communicate in general can help you understand your dog psychology better and strengthen the bond between you and your pup.

 

  1. Take a resolution to capture all the little moments

It does not matter whether your dog is a puppy or a senior dog. Every moment you spend with your dog is special, not only do you but for your dog as well. Make sure to capture all these beautiful moments. When you reach the end of 2021, you can make a big collage out of it, make a calendar or put it in the slideshow for your family and friends to watch. Check out this post to know all the things you can do with your pup when stuck at home.

 

  1. Volunteer at an animal shelter

Not every dog is as lucky as your pup to have made it to a family which loves him or her. Thus, the exterior, make a resolution to spend some time every week at your local animal shelter. Ta few moments of love and attention from you can make a world of difference to them. You might make a new friend or get a new family member even..!

 

  1. Clean your dog’s items more often

This is one of the best ways to keep your house clean. Clean your dog’s bed, toys, blankets,  towels etc. on a specific day of the week. During the clearing. If you find anything which may be a potential hazard, throw it away.

 

Let me know in the comment section, which of the above resolutions you are planning to work on. If you have a suggestion which I have failed to include in the blog post, please mention it in the comment section below

These resolutions can help make 2021 be a healthier and happier year for your dog
These resolutions can help make 2021 be a healthier and happier year for your dog


 Check out these other home remedy options for dogs:

See you in my next blog post

Shruti

Friday, November 27, 2020

Counter conditioning and desensitization in dogs

November 27, 2020 1

 Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety? These counter conditioning and desensitization methods can be a big help to dog guardians

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety usually engage in unwanted behaviors like excessive vocalization, property destruction etc. when they are left alone. This causes distress to the dog as well as his or her guardian. Such behaviors usually end up with the dog back in the shelter. Although there is a limited amount of research in this field, it has been observed that dogs tend to develop such behavior if they are males, found or adopted from shelters, separated from their litter-mates before 60 days or lose a beloved family member to whom he or she was attached to. One of the prime ways to reduce separation anxiety in dogs is counter conditioning and desensitization.

The most successful treatment so far for dog anxiety issues has been behavioral modification which specifically focuses on the method of counter conditioning and desensitization. This behavioral reprogramming can be supplemented with anxiety medications in the initial stages.

In case individual and personalized therapy from an animal behaviorist is not possible, the advice to the dog guardians should be very clear and precise.

The bond between a dog and his or her guardian is very strong. The emotional attachment between the dog and the guardian has been observed to be similar to the bond shared by a human adult and his or her children. Most dogs are emotionally very attached to their guardians. However, anxious dogs exhibit a higher attachment level towards their guardians. Such dogs may display behavioral problems in the absence of their guardians like

  • Whining and barking
  • Destruction of furniture
  • Howling
  • Salivation
  • Escape
  • Depression etc.

Counter conditioning and desensitization in dogs
Counter conditioning and desensitization in dogs
 

If the intensity of the inappropriate behavior increases over the duration of separation., It might be hypothesized that the dog is bored. However, if the dog is suffering from separation anxiety, then the inappropriate behavior will reach its peak within a few minutes of the guardian’s absence. Such dogs will also show excessive excitement in presence of the guardians.

Separation related behavioral problems in dogs have been reported in about 20% of the total domesticated canine population The diagnosis of these behavioral problems has always been indirect, for example disruption of furniture or reports of excessive barking from the neighbors. Such dogs can not only destroy the house, they can injure themselves in the process. Reports have previously described a dog who tore his tongue, broke his teeth and suffered bruises and cuts from face to feet in an attempt to escape in the absence of his guardians.

Treatment options for dog anxiety

Some authors have recommended to confine dogs who suffer from anxiety to a crate in the absence of the guardians. As per the authors, dogs accustomed to the crate are less likely to engage in stress-related behavioral problems compared to dogs who have a free access to the entire house. However, confining a dog who suffers from separation anxiety, can lead to an increase in lip licking, a behavior which is consistent with stress. Such dogs may also injure themselves while trying to escape from the crate.

Behavioral reprogramming

Systematic desensitization is a behavioral reprogramming method which has been found to have success in reducing or completely eliminating the separation induced behavioral problems of dogs. This method is similar to the method used for treatment of phobias in case of humans.

During the initial stages of this method, the dog is exposed to different periods of the guardians absence. Since the unwanted behavior starts within 3 to 5 minutes of guardian’s departure, the initial separation time is kept very short [a few seconds]. The guardian is advised to stay away for a few seconds, come back, praise the dog for good behavior and offer treats. 

Once the dog gets acclimatized to the absence of his or her guardian for a few seconds, the duration of separation is increased. Presenting a short guardian absence time ensures that the dog will remain non-anxious even when the guardian has gone for longer periods of time. The length of separation is gradually increased from seconds to minutes to hours until the desired length of time is reached during which the guardian is going to be absent on a regular basis.

Systematic desensitization is often accompanied with counterconditioning. Counterconditioning focuses on changing the aggressive, fearful or anxious reaction of the dog towards a more relaxed and pleasant one. This is done by forming a positive association between the presence or sight of the feared person, place, animal, object or situation with something that the dog loves and prefers. Eventually the dog will learn to associate the feared object, person or place with something positive. In case of dogs suffering from separation anxiety, counterconditioning focuses on associating the dogs alone time with a reward.

To develop this positive association, the guardian must provide something that would keep the dog busy for at least 20 to 30 minutes when the guardian leaves the house. For example you can give your dog a Kong stuffed with delicious treats which would take him at least 30 minutes to finish. You can even freeze the Kong with the food inside so that it takes longer for your dog to get all of it out and eat.

Always remember to remove the special toy or treat once you come back home. This would teach the dog that he will get the special treat he loves so much when his guardians are not around. This would eliminate the fear of being alone and replace it with the excitement of enjoying his treats.

Keep in mind that this technique will work only for dogs who suffer from mild levels of separation anxiety. If your dog has high levels of separation anxiety, then he or she will not eat in the absence of his or her guardians.

 

How to counter condition your dog towards separation anxiety
How to counter condition your dog towards separation anxiety?

 

Treatment for moderate to severe separation anxiety in dogs

If your dog suffers from a moderate or severe case of separation anxiety, treatment would require a complex counterconditioning and desensitization program. For such dogs, the initial steps need to be very small, no sudden leaps in training should be done, lots of praise should be awarded for small achievements and finally a lot of patience is required from the guardian. The initial duration of separation should be very small so that the dog does not get anxious. The separation duration need to be increased at a very gradual pace spread out over a few months of daily sessions.

The following are the steps which are to be followed for desensitization and counterconditioning in case of a moderate to severely anxious dog. However, it is preferable to have the support of an animal behaviorist when attempting to ease the separation anxiety of a severely anxious dog.

Note: fear of any kind must be avoided during the training sessions as your dog can sense fear and might become even more frightened than before. This will lead to the entire procedure backfiring. The treatment progress must change as per your dog’s reaction. Since the interpretation of these reactions might be difficult for a dog guardian, the help of an animal behaviorist is highly encouraged.

Step one: predeparture

Dogs are highly sensitive creatures. If you have a routine, your dog is aware of your routine more than you are. Thus, when you get ready, your dog knows you will be leaving him or her. For example, your dog might start to pant, whine or pace when he notices you getting ready, wearing your shoes, picking up your bag, fetching your car keys etc. If the guardian becomes upset at this point, it triggers the dogs separation anxiety. If you do not notice these telltale signs of anxiety in your dog when you’re getting ready then you can skip this step and move on to step two.

Treatment approach

The aim of this treatment for your dog is that getting ready, picking up the car keys or taking your coat does not mean that you WILL go out. You can reprogram your dog's brain by following the rituals of getting ready but not actually leaving. You can get ready and then watch TV or you can get ready and sit and read a magazine etc. You need to do this multiple times a day for a few weeks at least. Eventually your dog will learn that getting ready does not necessarily mean that his or her guardian is going to leave him or her alone.

Remember that your dog is very smart. Thus, you will have to do these exercises multiple times a day for many weeks until your dog is completely desensitized to you getting ready and stop showing any kind of anxious reaction. Once you have achieved this, you can move on to the next step

Step two: graduated absence/departure

If your dog does not show an anxious behavior when you are getting ready, you can skip step one and start from this step. The aim of this step is to show your dog that there is nothing to be upset about in your absence. The primary focus of this step is to go out of sight but then come back to your dog before he or she gets anxious.

This exercise can be started right in your house. Ask your dog to sit and stay or lay down. Go into the next room and come back within a few seconds. The aim is to come back before your dog starts to feel anxious. Very gradually, increase the duration of the time you stay in the other room or on the other side of the door. Once your dog gets used to you being away for a little while, you can start to work on getting your dog used to your predeparture cues for example, ask your dog to stay, pick up your keys that your coat and go into the other room. Come back within a few minutes.

Proceed to doing this out of sight exercises at your bedroom door and eventually at your house main door. If you’re used to leaving from the front door, do this exercise at the back door of your house first. Eventually when you do this exercise using the front door of your house, your dog would have gotten used to the stay game.

Once you’ve trained your dog to stay without getting anxious for 5 to 10 seconds, bring in the counterconditioning. For counterconditioning, as I mentioned before, you can use a Kong toy stuffed with frozen treats. This frozen treat will also work as a cue for safety telling your dog that it is safe to be left alone.

During your practice sessions, it is very important that you keep an appropriate length of time between each training session so that your dog is completely calm before you leave again. If your dog is still excited from your return and you leave again, he will already be in an anxious state. This anxiousness may make him less tolerable when you leave the next time, which can make the anxiety issue worse instead of making it better.

Behave in a very quiet and calm manner when leaving and coming.

There is no standard timeline as to how much time it will take for your dog to get used to your absence. Do not go from one step to the next too quickly. Most dog guardians want the treatment to progress fast, thus they land of exposing their dogs to longer durations within a very short time which worsens the symptoms of anxiety in the dogs. To prevent such a mistake, watch for stress signs from your dog like pacing, trembling, yawning, panting, salivating etc.

In the initial stages of training, your separation should be increased by only a few seconds after every few sessions. Once you hit the 40 minute mark, i.e. once your dog can tolerate 40 minutes of your absence, you can increase the departure duration by five minutes every few sessions. Since the anxiety of dogs is observed to reach its peak within the first 40 minutes, once you have reached this threshold, and eventually 90 minutes time, your dog is probably ready to handle 4 to 5 hours of your absence.

If you conduct several daily sessions during weekends and two sessions during the week, you can accomplish the complete training within a few weeks.

During the separation anxiety treatment, if possible, try to have an alternate arrangement so that your dog never really feels alone

  • You can arrange for a friend family member or a dog sitter distillate your dog in your absence.
  • Take your dog to the doggy daycare

Along with all the above-mentioned training, there are a few things which need to be followed when greeting your dog. When you’re leaving just pat your dog on the head, say goodbye and leave. When you come back, say hello to your dog and do not pay him or her any more attention unless you notice that your dog is completely calm and relaxed. To help your dog relax you can also revise some of the training with him, like stay, roll over etc.

How to counter condition your dog towards separation anxiety?
How to counter condition your dog towards separation anxiety?

 

Should you crate your dog?

If your dog knows that the crate is a safe place to go, then creating your dog is the way to go. However, some anxious dogs may see the crate as an confined space from where they need to escape. Such dogs might even self injure while trying to escape from the crate. You need to understand your dog’s behavior and make the decision of whether to create or not. If using a crate is not an option for you, you can try confining your dog behind a baby gate in one room.

Always remember, a physically and mentally tired dog does not have much energy to spend in being anxious in the absence of his or her guardian. Thus, always give your dog plenty of exercise on a daily basis and specially before you leave. Give your dog puzzle toys to play with when he or she is alone.

Make your dog hunt for his or her meals. You can even give treats to your dog in the form of a treasure hunt. To know more about homemade treasure hunt toys, click here.

Conclusion

Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety? After staying with your dog 24/7 during the lock down, how did your dog behave when you went back to work? Have you tried to use counter conditioning and desensitization to help your pup? Do you have some any other suggestion which can be used to desensitize dogs suffering from separation anxiety? If yes, then please share them with all of us.

Thank you for reading.

See you in my next blog post

Shruti

 

 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

9 treatment strategies for dogs suffering from separation anxiety

September 17, 2020 4

Causes and treatment of separation anxiety in dogs

For a long time, in almost every dog groups on Facebook or other social media, dog parents have been asking how to get rid of the separation anxiety in dogs. With lock down coming to an end and people getting back to work, this problem of dogs suffering from separation anxiety is on the rise.

Just like any other unhealthy behaviors of dogs like chewing, biting, barking etc. anxiety is treatable. Depending on the circumstance, anxiety can either be totally cured or it can be brought down to manageable levels. If you have a dog who suffers from anxiety, this is a must-read blog post for you. 

Furthermore, if you were with your pup during this lock down and have to go back to work now, some of the tips mentioned here might help make the transition easier for your dog.

9 amazing strategies to treat separation anxiety in dogs
9 amazing strategies to treat separation anxiety in dogs

 

First let’s understand what causes anxiety dogs

Anxiety can show itself in many ways from barking and whining to whimpering and shivering. You may notice that your dog suddenly becomes destructive when you are not at home. They may also  sure hostile behavior when anxious. If the separation anxiety is not addressed, they may start to lose their appetite and move to a completely withdrawn state.

The most common reasons behind separation anxiety in dogs are:

  • Fear of being home alone
  • Traveling
  • Loud noises
  • Being around strange people, pets or children
  • Being abused or rejected in the past

The best way to treat your dog’s anxiety is to first understand the cause behind the anxiety. Once you have identified the reason, you can start the treatment.

Ways to calm an anxious dog

Exercise

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, the most obvious  manner to put their minds at ease is to never leave them alone. However this is not a feasible option for most dog guardians. Thus, exercising your dog can not only be a great bonding time, it can also release the pent up energy of your dog.

To reduce your dog's anxiety by exercise, take your dog for a long walk or run just before you leave the house. Exercise reduces their pent up energy levels, releases endorphins which reduces their stress levels and also tires their brain. If you leave your dog alone after you exercise him or her, your dog will display less aggression and will be more calm and content to being alone.

Physical contact

Physical contact is probably the best and quickest way to reduce anxiety of your dog. If you notice signs of anxiety in your dog, it’s best to nip it as soon as possible. Give your dog plenty of hugs, kisses, cuddles or just long petting sessions. When you’re at home, stay close your dog. Make him or her feel like he or she belongs.

Massage

Massage works wonders for most of us. It is the same for dogs as well. Anxiety often results in tension in the muscles and massage therapy is one of the best ways to alleviate this tension. Giving your dog a good massage session before you leave. It can relieve your dog off the excess energy, make him or her calm and relaxed. A good massage session will most likely make him or her sleep after you leave. Start the massage from the neck and work down with long soothing strokes. Try to keep one hand on your dog and use the other to massage him or her. Over time. you will be able to identify which region of your dog becomes tense due to anxiety and work more on that particular region.

Music therapy

Music therapy has proven to be beneficial for both humans as well as dogs. Music can be relaxing and calming when you’re at home or outside. Music can also reduce the noise sensitivity by masking the scary noises or the street sounds which bother some dogs and cause anxiety. Recent studies  have also shown that most dogs prefer classical music. The music notes has been observed to act as a natural sedative for dogs. If you have a dog suffering from anxiety, the following music might help:

Through a dog’s ear by psychoacoustics researcher Joshua Leeds and pianist Lisa Spector.

 Surrender by Susan Raimond.

Time out

Timeout isn’t always  in response to a bad behavior. If you dog is suffering from anxiety, it might help to give your dog a crucial timeout when he or she is acting out. This timeout needs to be in a safe and quiet environment. Isolating your dog in such an environment can help calm their anxious nerves. It can be an added bonus if a quiet soothing music is playing in the background, the lights are dim and some aromatherapy is available [preferably a fragrance which is liked by your dog].

Calming t-shirts/coats

Calming T-shirts apply a constant and mild pressure to your dog’s torso. It is equivalent to swaddling an infant. Just like swaddling provides a feeling of comfort and security to the baby, the calming t shirts or coats provide a sense of security to dogs who suffer from any kind of anxiety induced by separation, noise, travel or even separate stranger anxiety. Depending on your dog’s size, there are many brands as well as models available from which you can choose.

Remove the triggers which cause anxiety

If you notice your dogs anxiety stems  in response to specific things like strangers or other dogs, try to eliminate the stressors for a while. For example if your dog is afraid of other dogs or other people, you can stop going to the dog park. You can take your dog for walks to places where there are less people or less dogs around.

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Know and understand the causes and treatment of separation anxiety in dogs
Know and understand the causes and treatment of separation anxiety in dogs


Behavioral modifications

Behavioral modifications towards strangers

You can also reset your dog’s mind to associate new people with positive reinforcements. Ask your friend to come into your house and give your dog a treat every time he or she comes. Repeat this exercise on a regular basis. Eventually your dog will learn to associate new people with good treats.

Behavioral modifications towards being left alone

The standard for behavioral modification usually involves desensitization as well as counter conditioning. Such methods can be tricky to carry out . These methods require the help of a trained and experienced professional. To know more about the behavioral modifications to with being left alone watch out for my next blog post.

Dog appeasing pheromones

These are synthetic pheromones. These are similar to pheromones which are produced by female dogs when they are nursing puppies. These can work amazingly well reducing the anxiety of your dog. These are available in different forms like callers, diffusers and sprays.

Alternative therapies

Alternate therapies are ones which have not being proven scientifically to have a positive effect on your dog’s anxiety. As a part of this therapy, you can either try combining music with calming T-shirts or you can go for homeopathic remedies available which can calm your dog. You can also use CBD oil (know about the full benefits of CBD oil) or try a mix and match of a few of the above-mentioned remedies.

Medications

Two drugs, clomipramine and fluoxetine are approved in the US for treatment of separation anxiety dogs. These two are antidepressant drugs which are also administered to humans for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Clomipramine is administered at a dose of 1 mg/kg every 12 hours. Clomipramine has been observed to increase passive behavior and reduce whining, scratching and pacing of dogs suffering from separation anxiety.

Fluoxetine, when administered as soluble tablets, in the absence of any kind of behavioral therapy, was found to improve the separation related anxiety of dogs compared to those who were treated with a placebo.

Always consult your vet before starting your dog on any kind of alternative therapy.

Seek professional help

If you tried all the above therapies and none seem to work on your dog. It is time to seek out professional help. If your dog's anxiety problem is not addressed at an early age, it will only continue to grow and  get worse over time.

Sometimes a sudden behavior change can be a result of a physical problem. Your veterinarian can perform diagnostic tests depending on your dog’s behavior to find out the root cause of your dog’s problem. However, if your dog is healthy physically and still displays a high level of anxiety, you should set up a meeting with either a certified animal behaviorist or with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. Work together and find out the root cause of your dog’s anxiety. Treat the problem from the root so that your dog can go back to his happy self.

Conclusion

Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s anxiety, ruling out any kind of underlying illness, behavior modification training and getting professional help will help improve the quality of your dog’s life and reduce his or her anxiety.

Research is shown that anxiety can have negative effects of both humans as well as dogs. A study conducted in 2010 on 721 domestic dogs concluded that anxiety disorder or the stress of living in fear can have detrimental effects on your dog’s health and can even reduce their lifespan. Thus, you must be proactive if you have a dog who suffers from anxiety.

As a dog guardian, you know that giving up is never an option. The solution may not be easy, but your dog will get there with your support and be his or her happy, healthy, jumping and tail wagging self again.

See you in my next blog post

Shruti

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Separation anxiety is a treatable condition in dogs. It just needs some patience on your part
Separation anxiety is a treatable condition in dogs. It just needs some patience on your part


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Separation anxiety in dogs: 11 identification criterias

September 12, 2020 0

 Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

One of the most widely heard complaints of dog caretakers is that their dog is an angel in the presence of his or her guardians but turns into the devil when left alone. Their dogs might howl, defecate, urinate, chew, barf, dig or finally try to escape. These behavioral issues indicate that the dog not only needs better house training but might also be suffering from separation anxiety. If your dog’s problems are accompanied by other behaviors like showing anxiety or  clinginess when you prepare to go out, these are indicative towards your dog suffering from separation anxiety and not that your dog is not properly house trained. Simulation anxiety gets resort in dogs when they become upset due to being away from their guardians. If a dog suffering from separation anxiety tries to escape, it is extreme and might result in house destruction and self injury.

How to identify if your dog has separation anxiety
How to identify if your dog has separation anxiety?

 Anxious dogs might display different kinds of behavior when their parents are getting ready to leave. Some might become agitated while others might become depressed or anxious before their guardians depart. Some would even try to prevent their parents from leaving the house at all.

The moment their guardians leave, such dogs would begin howling, barking and displaying other stress related behaviors within a very short time, usually minutes. When the guardian comes back, the dog will greet him or her like he hasn’t seen his parent in ages.

The purpose of treating a dog who is suffering from separation anxiety is to resolve the underlying anxiety by reprogramming the dogs brain to enjoy, or at least be tolerant with being left alone. This kind of behavior modification can be achieved by setting up an environment which provokes the distress without experiencing any kind of anxiety or fear.

 Before you start reprogramming your dogs behavior, you need to know the reasons behind separation anxiety dogs

Causes of separation anxiety

So far there has been no concrete evidence to indicate why exactly do dogs develop separation anxiety. However, observation of dogs coming from different environments have indicated that this kind of a behavior problem is more often observed in dogs who were adopted from shelters than the ones who were living with a single family from the time of puppyhood. The following situations are most likely to trigger separation anxiety in dogs:

Change of family or guardian

Being surrendered to a shelter or abandoned or suddenly been given to a new family or guardian can trigger separation anxiety. Since such dogs don’t understand why they are being sent away it causes a lot of stress on them.

Change in schedule

Dogs are used to a specific schedule. If there is a sudden change in the schedule specifically in terms of when they are left alone, it can lead to the development of separation anxiety. For example, you were with your dog for the past four months due to the lock down. Your dog saw you 24/7. Now suddenly you have to go back to your job and your dog is left alone for 6 to 7 hours. Such a change might lead to development of separation anxiety in your dog.

Residence change

Dogs don’t like change of environment suddenly. A change in residence can trigger separation anxiety.

Change in the household members

The sudden absence of a family member or you moving away can trigger separation anxiety.

Now that you know the reasons behind separation anxiety in dogs, the next thing to know are the symptoms your dogs is likely to display if he/she is suffering from separation anxiety. 

Identify whether your dog has separation anxiety
Identify whether your dog has separation anxiety.

 

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

Barking and howling

A dog who suffers from separation anxiety might immediately start barking or howling when left alone or is separated from his or her guardian. Howling or barking which stems from separation anxiety is persistent and does not seem to be triggered by anything else except the fear of being alone.

Urinating and defecating

If your dog  urinates or defecates in your presence, he or she most likely needs better house training. However if this behavior always gets manifested in your absence, then your dog is most likely suffering from separation anxiety.

Chewing digging and destruction

Some dogs suffering from separation anxiety tend to chew on objects like windowsills or door frames. They will try to dig at the doorways and the doors and destroy the house furniture. Such behaviors can cause harm to your dog. Your dog may land up with script paws, damaged nails or broken teeth. In a few severe cases dogs have tried to escape through the window and got impaled by the broken glass of the windows. If this behavior is not caused by separation anxiety, this may be exhibited even when the guardians are around.

Pacing

Some dogs will trot on a fixed spot in a fixed pattern when they’re alone or separated from their guardians. The spacing behavior can either be in circular pattern or it can be back and forth in a straight line. Similar to the chewing and digging behavior, if this behavior is triggered from separation anxiety, it will not be observed when the dog guardians are present.

Coprophagia

Coprophagia is the behavioral disorder when the dogs defecate and consume some or all of the excrement. If this behavior is performed in the absence of the guardians, then it most likely is stemming from separation anxiety.

Behavioral problems to rule out

Sometimes it is hard to understand whether the inappropriate behavior displayed by the dog is due to separation anxiety or not. A few of the behavioral problems can lead to similar symptoms. Before reaching to the conclusion that your dog is suffering from  separation anxiety, it is important that you rule out the following behavioral problems:

Incomplete house training

If your dog is constantly urinating in the house, even in your presence, he or she is most likely incompletely house trained. Your dog's house training was either incomplete or it involves punishment.

Urine marking

Some dogs will urinate in the house as a part of marking the house with her scent. Dogs are territorial creatures. They use scent to market their territory. If your dog is lifting a leg to urinate, he or she is most likely marking his or her territory.

Boredom

Dogs get bored very easily and need constant mental stimulation. Some dogs can become disruptive when left alone. These dogs don’t appear to be anxious otherwise

Juvenile destruction

Dogs are known to chew everything in their sight during their puppynhood stages. This behavior will be displayed in front of the guardians as well as when they are away.

Excessive howling or barking

There are certain breeds of dogs who are known to bark more than others. Some dogs also however bark in response to various stimulants present in the environment like unfamiliar sounds, sights, sirens etc. They would vocalize their happiness when their guardians come home and their distress when their guardians are away.

Conclusion

Now that you know the common symptoms of dog anxiety, have you noticed your dog display any of the above-mentioned symptoms? If yes, what did you to about it? There are many ways to treat separation anxiety in dogs. The best way is behavioral reprogramming so that your dog understands that it’s all right to be left alone. To know about dog anxiety treatments, watch out for my next blog post.

Thank you for reading.

See you in my next post.

Shruti

 

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Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety?


Friday, September 4, 2020