Heading Off Separation Anxiety in My Dog

As you may know from previous posts, I have a new dog. Pierson is a Border Collie and/or Australian Shepherd mix who was rescued from a park where he had been living as a stray. He has fit very well into our home, but as the days go by we are seeing some problems develop. One of those issues in my dog is separation anxiety.

From what I understand about the Border Collie or Australian Shepherd is that because these dog breeds have such a close affinity with their owner, they tend to get distressed when they are away from them for any length of time. Since I work at home, I am around my dog all the time. So obviously my dog has drawn close to me. And now, whenever I leave, I hear him whine desperately after I shut the door.

Now that I have observed this separation anxiety issue, I need to address it. But how? Separation anxiety is not always easy to fix. Right now, all he does is whine. But it could get worse. His anxiety could lead to destructive behavior. It could even lead to health problems. The best thing I can do is try to head it off before it gets any worse. And by doing that, I can help my dog eventually overcome his separation anxiety issues.

Leave Home for Short Intervals
Now that I know Pierson has separation anxiety, I need to practice leaving him at home alone more often. Since I am home most of the time, this is actually rather easy. All I have to do is go outside for a few moments, then come back in. Sometimes I go to run errands which means I am gone longer than a few minutes. By varying the time that I am gone, I am hoping to help him understand two things:  1) Although I am leaving, I am coming back, and 2) I could only be gone a short time so no need to worry.

Leave Quietly
With Sephi and Maya, I would pet them for a few moments before I left. Since they didn’t have any separation anxiety issues, this was not a big deal for them. But it seems that it could be a big deal for Pierson. So now whenever I leave, I do it quietly. No hugs, no kisses, and no petting. I just leave my dogs and ignore them if they follow me to the door. By leaving quietly, I am showing my dog Pierson that me leaving is not a big deal.

Ignore
Whenever I come home, I completely ignore my dogs for the first few minutes. Although I used to enjoy coming home and having my dogs jump all over me excitedly, I know that by reacting to it I am encouraging the separation anxiety. By ignoring my dogs for a short time, I am showing them that there is no major difference between me being home and me not being home.

This is my first experience with having a dog with separation anxiety issues. As of this date, I have only had my dog Pierson one month and one day. Only time, patience, and consistency will tell if I am able to head off my dog’s separation anxiety. If you have any additional tips, please share them with me. I’d really like to prevent my dog from developing severe separation anxiety.

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5 Responses to “Heading Off Separation Anxiety in My Dog”

  1. Betty Hale Says:

    Hi there,

    The tactics you have tried so far should, in my experience, be of great help. Making it appear normal when you go and not making a big fuss should help your dog to understand that when you go it’s OK because you will be back.

    Other things to consider are mixing up the departure routine, leaving some of Pierson’s favourite toys with him perhaps with a treat hidden in on of them so he has to occupy himself and take his mind off being home alone and leaving the radio on tuned in to a talk show for company. These helped me with my dog along with a bunch of other helpful information I found at http://www.canineseparationanxiety.co.uk

    Patience and perseverance are needed though once you find what works best for Pierson I hope you see a big improvement and that he can get over his separation anxiety with your help.

    Good luck,

    Betty.

    • ILoveDogs Says:

      Betty,

      Thanks for the information! He does have lots of toys, but I didn’t think of putting a treat in them to occupy him. I read the website too. We already have boundaries as my husband doesn’t want the dogs in certain rooms. So with the added toy, perhaps I will beat this thing before it gets to be too much. Thanks!!! :0)

  2. Juliette and Dougie my Westie Says:

    You seem to be doing all the right things and Betty’s advice too seems sound. Many people swear by the Thundershirt, see link but at $39 I’d be inclined to persevere with your plan.

    http://www.thundershirt.com (heaps of info on this site about separation anxiety)

    Nice pic of Pierson

    • ILoveDogs Says:

      I’ve heard of the Thundershirt. It might not only help with his separation anxiety but also his nervousness when we go out in public. I am also working on socialization with Pierson as he is scared of almost everything and everybody.

  3. mrsashleyjane Says:

    Reblogged this on mrsashleyjane and commented:
    I’m having this similar issue with my poor puppy. Koda is the sweetest baby girl Aussie-Border mix. She has recently developed skin mites because of her anxiety. I’m hoping I can start implementing some of these tips to make it better for her.

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