We have seen a big influx of dogs coming to training with separation anxiety issues since the beginning of COVID. Some of the causes can be easily identified and simple changes can make a big impact. However, there are often deeper issues such as genetics that play a huge role in determining the dog’s behavior and natural temperament.
While there are certain contributing factors that cause separation anxiety that we are going to outline below, there is an important distinguish to make. In most cases, dogs struggle with anxiety caused by separation, not separation anxiety. While they sound the same, anxiety caused by separation is a result of the relationship that has been built between the owner and the dog. Separation anxiety is often a more deeply rooted psychological disorder that is not as commonly seen in dogs. Let’s explore some of the biggest contributing factors to anxiety caused by separation and how to fix it.
Sleeping In Bed With Owner
One of the leading contributing factors that we see regarding anxiety caused by separation with dogs is sleeping in bed with the owner. While this not the case with ALL dogs, we can almost always tell when dogs sleep in bed with their owner due to one telltale sign: the dogs will never leave their owners side.
Dogs will quickly build an over dependency on their owner after prolonged periods of time sleeping in bed with the owner. The reason for this is the fact that the dog is always on top of the owner. While many dog owners find it to be a sign of love and affection, sleeping with your dog can be very dangerous if the dog is not naturally independent and confident. When your dog spends too much time on top of you, they fail to learn how to be confidently comfortable while being independent. They require close contact in order to feel safe, drastically hindering their ability to be alone.
While this is not the case with every dog, it is extremely common and we see this problem often. One of the best ways to start building separation and building up your dog’s confidence is kicking them out of the bed and having them sleep on the ground – alone.
Use A Crate!
Many owners struggling with anxiety caused by separation with their dog are not utilizing a crate. They give their dog too much freedom around the house, which will almost always lead to the dog choosing to be on top of the owner at all times. Since the beginning of COVID, more and more people have been working from home. These COVID dogs have gotten used to always having their owner around and never have alone/down time.
When crate training your dog, you will give them a safe, comfortable place to go relax and recharge the batteries. Dogs who are able to get some alone time will learn how to be independent with time. While it’s unlikely that your dog will learn to be comfortable while being alone overnight, with repeated practice, your dog will get better and better with time.
Practice Basic Obedience
If you recall back in time when you were a little kid learning to play baseball, you likely started off with tee-ball. Setting up the ball on the tee made things easier for you to be successful. Over time, you likely became more confident in your abilities to hit the ball with accuracy and power. The more repetitions and hits you made, the better you became. The same thing goes with dogs and basic obedience.
The more you can practice the basic obedience commands like come, sit, place, and down, the more proficient at obedience your dog will become. As you continue to practice and work with your dog, you will build up a strong relationship based on trust and respect while your dog becomes stronger and stronger with obedience. Practicing these repetitions daily can dramatically boost your dog’s confidence levels.
If you believe your dog has anxiety caused by separation, there are several steps you can take to begin boosting your dog’s confidence. If you need help with building your dog up, just reach out! We’d love to help your dog live a happier, healthier life. Make sure to remind yourself that this process is not a race. It takes a lot of consistent effort and work to build your dog up and teach them how to be a happier, calmer, more confident and neutral dog.