How to Identify and Manage Separation Anxiety in Newly Adopted Adult Dogs?

April 15, 2024

Adopting an adult dog can come with its own set of challenges, one of them being separation anxiety. It can be heartbreaking for both you and your new pet if they’re struggling with this condition. But, do not fret. With time and patience, separation anxiety is a behavior that can be managed, and your dog will learn to trust that you’re not leaving them forever.

It’s essential to understand the signs of separation anxiety in dogs, as it’s often mistaken for bad behavior. Separation anxiety manifests in a variety of behaviors, and recognizing these is the first step to helping your pet.

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Common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include excessive barking or howling, destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture or scratching at doors, and accidents in the house, despite being house trained. Other signs may include pacing, attempting to escape from the crate or house, and an overly exuberant greeting when you return home.

It’s important to note that these behaviors often occur within the first 30 minutes of you leaving the house. However, in more severe cases, these symptoms can continue for the entire time you’re away.

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If you’ve identified that your dog displays signs of separation anxiety, it’s time to consider why. Separation anxiety in dogs often stems from a previous traumatic experience, such as being abandoned or left alone for extended periods. In adult dogs that have been rehomed or adopted from a shelter, these experiences can trigger fear and anxiety when left alone in their new environment.

Your dog’s breed or personality may also play a factor in their anxiety. Certain breeds are more prone to separation anxiety than others, and more anxious dogs are more likely to develop separation anxiety.

Finally, changes in your dog’s environment, such as a new home, new family members, or a change in schedule, can also trigger separation anxiety. It’s important to consider all these factors when trying to understand why your dog is exhibiting these behaviors.

Once you’ve identified the signs and causes of your dog’s separation anxiety, it’s time to implement a treatment plan. This will involve training, changes to your departure routine, and possibly even medication in severe cases.

Training your dog to be alone will involve gradually increasing the time they spend alone. Start by leaving them alone for short periods, slowly increasing the time as they get comfortable. You can also use a crate for this training, providing a safe, enclosed space for your dog while you’re away.

Changing your departure routine may also help. Dogs are creatures of habit and may become anxious when they notice the signs of your impending departure. Try to vary your routine and avoid making a fuss when you leave or return home to help reduce their anxiety.

In severe cases, medication may be necessary. Always consult with a veterinarian before starting any treatment involving medication. They will be able to guide you on the best treatment options for your dog.

Managing separation anxiety in your dog is an ongoing process. It requires consistency, patience, and understanding from you, the owner. Remember that progress will be gradual, and there may be setbacks.

Consistency in your training and departure routines will help your dog understand that you leaving is not a cause for panic. Patience is also key. Changing behaviors, especially anxiety-related ones, takes time. Be patient with your pet, and celebrate small victories, like a decrease in the intensity of their symptoms.

Understanding is perhaps the most important aspect of managing your dog’s separation anxiety. Try to see the world from their perspective and understand that their behavior is not a sign of disobedience, but a reaction to their fear and anxiety.

While it may be challenging at times, remember that with time and the right approach, you can help your dog overcome their separation anxiety. It’s a journey you’ll take together, and with each small step, your dog will learn to trust that, when you leave, you will always come back.

When managing separation anxiety in your adopted adult dog, you might find it helpful to seek the assistance of professionals. They can provide invaluable guidance and support, particularly if the anxiety is severe or if you are struggling to make progress with your training efforts.

Two types of professionals that could be beneficial are dog trainers and animal behaviorists. Dog trainers are experts in dog behavior and have a deep understanding of how dogs learn. They can guide you in implementing effective training techniques for managing separation anxiety, such as systematic desensitization and counterconditioning. The trainer can assist you in creating a safe environment for your dog, building a positive association with your departure, and gradually increasing the time you leave the dog alone.

On the other hand, an animal behaviorist specializes in the behavior of animals and can provide more in-depth insight into your dog’s separation problems. They can make an accurate diagnosis of separation anxiety or any other potential behavior issue and design an individualized treatment plan.

Sometimes, it’s also necessary to involve a veterinarian. If your dog’s anxiety is so severe that it’s affecting their health or impeding training, your vet can prescribe medication to help manage the symptoms. Always remember that any medication should be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques, not as a standalone treatment.

Adopting an adult dog can be a rewarding journey, but with it can come challenges like dealing with separation anxiety. As a dog owner, it’s crucial to recognize and understand the signs of separation anxiety in your pet. This understanding will lead to a better diagnosis of the problem and help you create an effective treatment plan.

Implementing this plan might involve behavior modification techniques, changing your routines, and possibly medication. It’s an ongoing process and requires a lot of patience, consistency, and understanding on your part. It’s also important not to forget that professional assistance is available, from dog trainers to behaviorists, and they can provide invaluable help in this journey.

While facing these challenges might be tough initially, overcoming them will result in a stronger bond between you and your rescue dog. Indeed, dealing with separation anxiety is a journey that you and your dog will travel together. With each small step forward, your dog will gradually learn to trust that you’ll always return when you leave the house.

By being patient, consistent, and compassionate, you can help your dog overcome their separation anxiety. It’s a testament to the unmeasurable love and commitment that we have as dog owners. With time and the right approach, you can champion a calmer, more confident canine, ready to take on the world, knowing that they’re not alone.