What dog owners can do about separation anxiety

Pandemic-related shutdowns in 2020 have led many to believe they don’t have time for pets to motivate them to adopt.

But with many offices pausing to bring back employees and continuing vacations, pet owners and dog workers are beginning to grapple with animal separation anxiety and other issues. .

Nihcole Adams, a dog sitter and walker in Castaic, has had a growing number of new clients who are new to dog owners. She is making requests for walking, feeding, and boarding. But some of the pets she adopted are struggling with being alone or socializing with other dogs.

Adams recently hired a 5-month-old Lhasa Apso, Brody, for a week. Owners worry Adams will call them to pick up their dog because it won’t do well with other pets. But when they picked up the puppy over the weekend, they were amazed at how much better it was – Brody just needed to practice socializing.

“Dogs that are isolated or not socialized before 16 weeks of age are more likely to develop behavioral problems,” said Rachel Malamed, a veterinary behaviorist.

Stocks are serious. Malamed says behavioral problems are the leading cause of anorexia and lethargy.

However, the new pet owners Adams works with are passionate about seeking help for their dogs. It’s just that many people don’t know where to start or what resources are available.

Seeking help from a qualified professional early on can help keep pets indoors, improve pet welfare, and repair human-animal relationships, says Malamed.

Depending on your dog’s condition, you may be able to seek help from a certified dog trainer, veterinarian, or pet sitter. The Times spoke to all three about how to tell if a dog is experiencing separation anxiety, tips on what owners can do at home, and more. and resources.

Understand your pet

Malamed said she is seeing a lot of pets with separation anxiety as well as other fears and phobias – including fear of people, noise, travel and other animals .

These concerns, she said, may be due to the lack of early socialization caused by the pandemic.

Ingrid Komisar says they can also be the result of a lack of training as well as a genetic predisposition. Komisar — ​​a certified trainer for Calm Canine Academy, a virtual dog training service — said the coronavirus lockdown has halted in-person training for many dogs and their owners. It also makes it impossible for many pets to see and interact with other people and dogs.

Anxiety in pets can manifest itself in a number of ways. Physical changes may include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea. Behavioral changes to watch out for may include hiding and avoiding, shaking, tail wagging, ear picking, lip licking and yawning, unwillingness to eat and disobeying commands. In some cases, pets will become aggressive towards family members, unfamiliar people or other animals.

Don’t wait to see if the problem goes away. Most behavior problems will get worse if left unaddressed.

“The first thing people should do when they notice any behavioral or physical signs or changes, especially those that are sudden or non-specific to their pet, is to seek medical advice. Consult their veterinarian to make sure there is no underlying medical reason for these behaviors,” says Malamed.

How can a veterinarian help?

Karen Sueda, a veterinary specialist in the behavioral department at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, says illness can affect a pet’s behavior, so it’s important to rule out a physical cause. first.

“For example, many illnesses can cause filth in the home, and a dog in pain may pant, squeal, and appear anxious,” says Sueda.

The vet visit allows the doctor to ask specific questions to make an accurate diagnosis of the behavior and plan treatment if a physical cause has been ruled out, she said.

If the behavior problem is mild, your veterinarian may refer you to a trainer that uses positive reinforcement training techniques. Sueda says that if the issue is more of a concern, your doctor may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist — a specialist who treats behavioral problems in pets.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe anxiety-reducing medications. Reducing anxiety allows pets to learn new behaviors and coping strategies through positive reinforcement, says Sueda.

Training techniques

If your vet recommends a trainer for your dog’s separation anxiety, Komisar recommends finding a certified professional. The American Veterinary Animal Behavior Association has tips on choosing a trainer based on expertise.

Komisar admits that a dog dealing with separation anxiety can also be extremely distressing for an owner.

But separation anxiety is treatable.

“If we take the time, if we put in the effort, success can be seen and visible [your pet] started to feel comfortable with alone time,” she said.

How much time and effort does it take? Komisar says she often tells clients that the process can take months.

Through Calm Canine Academy, she starts with taking a break from school – so if you have to go to work or school and don’t have someone to stay with your dog, hire a pet sitter.

Next, Komisar works with the owner to understand at what point the dog begins to panic. If it’s within 10 minutes of the owner leaving the house, they’ll start by training the dog to be comfortable being alone in less than 10 minutes and work their way up.

What can you do at home now

If your dog shows mild signs of separation anxiety or if you’re waiting for your scheduled vet appointment, says Ralf Weber, a certified dog trainer based in Corona , shared tips on what you can do at home.

  • For five minutes a day, everyone in the house ignored the dog. The animal may whine or bark but will eventually entertain itself or lie down. Once your dog is comfortable at five minutes, gradually increase the time.
  • It is very valuable to train your dog in a kennel. The kennel is the dog’s own comfortable space, away from the owner. It’s also essential when transporting your pet, leaving them in a kennel, or if they have to be at the vet’s office.
  • Similar to Komisar’s technique of leaving your pet alone for as long as the pet is comfortable, Weber recommends gradually increasing your dog’s alone time. But don’t rush the process; Go at your dog’s pace.

More resources

  • The Board of Certified Professional Dog Trainers helps you find a certified dog trainer near you.
  • Wag! helps you locate nearby dog ​​walkers, lodgers and trainers.
  • Rover has listings for boarding, sit-in, dog walking, dog day care, and transportation (for feeding, playing or toileting).

https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-07-22/what-dog-owners-can-do-about-separation-anxiety What dog owners can do about separation anxiety

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing russellfalcon@ustimespost.com.

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