Dogs are creatures of habit, even the slightest change in their daily routine can upset them.
How do you know if your dog is suffering from anxiety? Do dogs even suffer from anxiety? Unfortunately, some dogs are more prone than others; from cute chihuahuas to gorgeous german shepherds, whatever the size – your dog could suffer from anxiety at some point.
Source: Destructive Dogs
You may think the whining, barking, complete destruction of your house or urinating in those shoes you treated yourself to on payday *ahem* is down to “typical dog behaviour”. However, it may actually be a sign that your prized pooch is distressed and suffering from frustration.
If you’ve not spotted it, you’re not alone: veterinarians in the United States estimate that 60% of Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) cases in dogs go undiagnosed by owners.
Furthermore, a study by Southampton University found that over one million dogs in the UK react poorly to being left alone by their owners, with over 50% over Labrador Retrievers and Border Collies showing this behaviour by 18 months of age.
Crate training can help ease separation anxiety for your doggy without having to spend a fortune on dog training classes or medication (yes, seriously).
Obedience training and discipline from crate training can help your dog understand what behaviour is expected; allowing the good behaviour to become a habit. Your leadership and consistency in providing this training is pivotal in building your dog’s confidence in you as the Pack Leader, and also in himself.
Here’s a helpful how-to guide.
Crate training is a very effective tool for training both puppies and adult dogs. The crate is used to teach the dog about boundaries in the home and keeping safe. It can take some time and effort to train your dog how to use a crate, but the results are worthwhile. If you are ever in a situation where your dog will need to be confined for any length of time (visit to the vets, traveling in the car etc.), it is less stressful for your pooch if he has been trained to feel calm in a crate.
For dog crate success, follow these super-simple steps:
- If your dog was in a crate while you were away, enter the room quietly on your own without any other pets or people, shutting the door behind you. Remember – you must not talk to your pooch.
- Busy yourself with other things in the room for a few minutes – all without talking to your dog. This may seem a little mean, but the idea is to make your pooch get used to waiting.
- Then walk over to the crate with a collar and lead, unlatch the crate door, but do not open it.
- In quick succession open and close the crate door an inch, quickly repeating 10 to 20 times
- Once you’re happy your dog is watching calmly (if a little confused), gradually open and close the crate door wider and at a slower pace.
- If your little fella tries to come out, gently (but quickly) close the door and start again from the beginning. Patience is a virtue here, but believe us – the results will be worth it.
- Your dog will start to understand that the door needs to be fully open first! When you get to this stage, *well done you’re almost there!* put the collar and lead on as you call your doggy out.
- Have your dog stop and sit (stand if a show dog); controlling with stops every few steps (both inside the room and out) until under control.
- Speak to your pooch in a low tone
- Always speak in calm voice
- Don’t allow any contact throughout the whole process
- If your doggy touches you, this will generate feelings of excitement as if you’re playing a game (otherwise you’re back to square one *gulp*).
- Don’t allow any contact with other pets or people or affection / play from you for 15 to 20 minutes until calm.
Dogs Rehomed by Rescue Organisations
A large proportion of dogs are handed in to rescue organisations such as Battersea Dogs Home, Blue Cross and the RSPCA because they have shown behaviours seen to be problematic to the owner. Of these behaviours, it is estimated 33% is related to separation. By making owners aware of this, we can help to minimise the number of dogs given away to rescue organisations by noticing anxiety warning signs early enough to provide intervention.
Dog crate training will be time consuming at first, but it will take less time in a few days and will save you a lot of time in the long run. And your dog will thank you, of course!
Do you have any other separation anxiety tips you’d like to share, or are you worried about your dog’s behaviour while you’re out? Share your experiences in the comments section below.