6 Ways to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dogs
There is no greater feeling than coming home to a wagging tail and a happy dog after a long and stressful day. However, some dogs have difficulty coping when being left alone. The result is extreme distress and anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a panic disorder in which overly attached dogs get highly anxious when separated from their guardians, which is commonly caused by a change in the dog's environment. Although every pet reacts differently and not all dogs experience separation anxiety to the same extent, many dogs act out destructively when their owners are away.
This article will look at the cause and symptoms, breeds that are most likely to suffer from it, what you can do, and how e-collars help dogs with separation anxiety.
What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Separation anxiety can be triggered by several factors, such as new experiences, moving to a new house, or having someone visit home during an absence. The owner may have gone on vacation and left the dog behind with a friend or relatives.
A dog with separation anxiety may exhibit signs such as vocalization, destructiveness, urination or defecation, panting, and pacing.
Top 5 Most Separation-Anxious Dog Breeds
Certain breeds are more prone to developing separation anxiety than others due to genetic predisposition.
1. German Shepherd
Known for their loyalty, the German Shepherd is an excellent guard dog. They can be very independent and intelligent. Sometimes, these traits contribute to separation anxiety.
2. Border Collie
Collies are some of the most clever dog breeds. However, they sometimes struggle with getting rid of loneliness, which can cause separation anxiety.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This cuddly and sensitive breed tends to get attached to their owners, making it quite a challenge to leave them alone.
4. Jack Russell Terriers
Terriers are primarily high-energy breeds. They need a lot of exercises. Otherwise, they quickly get bored. They don’t do well without enough activities to occupy their time. So, it is no wonder that they can suffer from separation anxiety.
5. Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds are great with kids and families. This highly intelligent and naturally active dog quickly makes strong bonds with their humans, making them more prone to suffer from separation anxiety.
What to do if Your Dog Suffers from Separation Anxiety
Most pet parents will do anything to avoid their dogs having unnecessary stress. Separation anxiety can be avoided, or at least minimized, with responsible ownership and good training.
6 Ways to Prevent or Overcome Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- Exercise your dog regularly.
Simple activities and exercises help stimulate a dog’s mind and are quite beneficial for dogs who feel isolated. Bear in mind, though, that the exercise needs to be structured. Simply letting your dog run and jump about may burn energy but is also likely to make them more anxious.
So, find an activity that you can do, make sure it is adequate, and then commit. A 15-minute walk, for example, may wear out a small breed like a French Bulldog, but it won’t nearly be enough for a highly active Beagle. Remember, you want to wear your dog out just enough so they can relax and hopefully sleep while you are gone.
Regular exercise will help re-shape your dog’s behavior, eventually getting them more comfortable with being left alone.
Some exercises you can do with your dog are:
- Physical Exercise
- Interactive games / Play sessions
- Physical Exercise
- Mental Exercise
- Fetch with a Ball or Stick
- Training Your Dog to Do Tricks
- Mental Exercise
- Teach your dog to be alone.
Avoid leaving your dog for an extended period until they get accustomed to being separated from you.
Helpful ways to teach your dog to be alone:
- Put them in a room by themselves for a short time.
- Train your dogs to be comfortable in their crate.
- Gradually increase the time that you spend away from them.
- Don't make a big deal out of arrivals or departures.
Not making a big deal when leaving or arriving prevents your dog from attaching negative emotions.
Things to avoid when leaving:
- Prolonged hellos and goodbyes
- Talking in an anxious tone when arriving and leaving
- Leave quietly to avoid making your dog self-conscious about being left alone.
- Maintain your routine when going on a trip.
- Don't make any significant changes to your home or lifestyle when returning.
- Slowly introduce a new pet or people in a household.
When the time comes that you have a new member joining the household, whether they be human or canine, do not force your dog to interact right away. Any addition to a dog’s current environment is a change they need to prepare for not to trigger anxiety. Let them adjust until they get comfortable.
- Keep your dog occupied.
Keep your dog entertained while you're away by giving them appropriate toys and treats, which might help take away some of the stress.
- An e-collar can be an effective tool.
E-collars are also known as shock collars, remote training collars, remote trainers, or electronic collars. The e collar is a way of helping train your dog by using electrical stimulation, vibration, or tone.
Can You Use an E-Collar for a Dog with Separation Anxiety?
In many cases, anxiety in dogs is a learned behavior. This means that it can be unlearned with proper training and enough patience. So, the answer to the question is yes. A shock collar can help dogs with separation anxiety.
Here is one way to do just that.
- Leave your dog inside your fenced-in yard with the e-collar on.
- Go inside your house.
- When your dog barks or paws at the door, issue a quick stimulation.
The stimulation stops the unwanted behavior and helps the dog become calmer. Using an e-collar lets you correct your dog quickly and calmly compared to having to raise your voice to issue a command. Because the e-collar can be used at a distance, you don’t even have to approach your pet to issue the correction. This is very important as seeing your approach may signal that their whining or barking worked and they are now getting rewarded by having their human back. This is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.
Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious concern, whether it is due to genetics or life experience. But you are not without resources that can help. However, if you are not sure what to do, it is best to consult with a professional trainer or a veterinarian first.
PetsTEK’s Picks for the Best Shock Collars for Dogs with Separation Anxiety
The Micro Educator ME-300 remote training collar makes small dog training easy. This Educator collar may look similar to its big brother, the ET-300, but it is 20% lighter and, more importantly, has 20% less power than other Educator shock collars. This makes it an excellent tool for highly anxious dogs.
The ME-300 Educator has a ⅓-mile range, Pavlovian Tone, and Non-Stimulating Vibration. It is a fully waterproof system that’s expandable to 2 dogs and can fit dogs 5 pounds and up.
Learn more about the Micro Educator ME-300 here.
The ET-300 Mini Educator remote dog training collar has all the features you need to help you and your pet achieve your training goals. The stopwatch-style remote is small and can be handled with one hand. It comes with static stimulation, vibration, and tone options, so choosing what works best for your dog is easy.
The ET-300 Mini Educator has a ½-mile range, comes with a fully waterproof biothane collar, is expandable for up to 2 dogs, and can be worn by dogs 8 pounds and larger. It is also available in a black skin variant and the Educator Zen 300 variant.
Learn more about the Mini Educator ET-300 here.
The Dogtra 1900S remote training collar is perfect for medium to large dogs and recommended for amateurs and professional trainers alike. It has a range of ¾-mile so you can easily take your dog training from your backyard to parks and fields without missing a beat.
The Dogtra 1900S is equipped with a high-performance vibration pager and static stimulation. The power stimulation level goes from low to high to work for dogs with mild to stubborn temperaments. The 1900S is a single-dog system and comes in a 2-dog variant, the 1902S.
Learn more about the Dogtra 1900S here.
The Dogtra 200C remote training collar is an excellent tool for basic obedience training and entry-level fieldwork. It is best for small to medium dogs.
The 200C has a range of ½-mile, is fully waterproof, and comes with a receiver collar that has a comfortable fit. The Dogtra 200C e-collar has 100 levels of static stimulation and is best for dogs 10 pounds or larger.
Learn more about the Dogtra 200C here.
The Dogtra 280C remote training collar works best for small and sensitive dogs.
The 280C has a ½-mile range, features a vibration alert, and is fully waterproof. The ultra-compact receiver is made to fit around a smaller dog's neck and has a non-slip grip, perfect for all-weather use.
Learn more about the Dogtra 280C here.