Separation Anxiety is Distressing For Dog and Owner
One of the most common complaints among Chihuahua parents is that their dog has separation anxiety and they don’t know what to do. Chihuahuas are definitely people dogs. They are loyal and protective and would rather be with their people than anywhere else. Mine follow me into every room as I go about my day. If they can’t be on my lap, they will curl up in a bed in the same room. Yes, mine has a bed in every room of the house, except the bathroom. They even follow me in there (Chi parents have no privacy), but they will curl up on the rug at my feet even there.
So, it’s no wonder that they suffer from separation anxiety more often than another breed. Not only is it distressing for the dog, but for the owner too. If you have a dog that suffers, you worry about him all day long at work, or school, or wherever it is that you go even if you’re only going to be gone a few hours.
How do you know if your dog has separation anxiety? After all, unless you have a camera at home, you have no idea what they are doing all day. Well unless you notice these common symptoms.
- Trying to escape
If your dog is housebroken, but you find urine or poop when you get home. That’s a pretty good sign. When you come home and find claw marks on your leather sofa or your sofa pillows completely destroyed or claw marks up and down the front or back door. These are all signs. They could also be signs of boredom, so, first of all, make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercises and mental stimulation.
What you can do:
Eliminate their anxiety before you leave
Does your dog start to get anxious as soon as he sees that you are about to leave? Then start there. Show him that those cues don’t always mean that you are leaving.
Pick up your keys and then just go about your usual daily routine sometimes. Put on your coat and boots and then just sit and watch TV for awhile. You get the picture. After several times of this your “leaving cues” don’t mean anything anymore, so there’s nothing to be anxious about.
Exits and Entrances:
I know it’s hard not to but, don’t speak to your dog before you leave. Don’t pay them any attention at all. Keep it very low key and just routine for 10 minutes or so before you leave.
When you come home, do the same. Don’t acknowledge him or speak to him, just ignore him for several minutes when you come home. This communicates to your dog that it’s normal and no big deal if you leave. They are pretty good readers of emotion. If you show them a lot of attention and sympathy before you leave they read in your emotions that you are anxious. So they become anxious.
Give him plenty to do:
- Exercising your dog’s mind and body will greatly decrease stress and provides an appropriate outlet for normal dog behaviors. Besides that, a physically and mentally tired dog doesn’t have the energy to be anxious when he’s alone.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise every day. A good walk every day will do it for a Chihuahua. Take different routes so he can see and sniff different things each time.
- Play fun, interactive games with him. Does he like fetch? Tug-of-war? Chico used to LOVE to play fetch. He’s 14 now so he’s no longer interested. But, if I would he’d play fetch all day long. They all three like to play tug-of-war.
- If your Chi likes other dogs, take him to play off leash with his favorite pals.
- Provide them with food puzzle toys, like KONG, and chew toys while you are gone. These provide the chewing and licking that are normal dog behaviors in an appropriate way. It also has a very calming effect.
- Make him “hunt” for his food. My dogs love this. Before you leave, hide his kibble or favorite treats around the house or yard for him to “sniff out” while you are gone. Don’t leave chew sticks or bones that they could choke on, leave those for when you are there to supervise.
- Have you thought about enrolling him in a training class? This is fun for you and your dog and you both will learn new skills. Then practice some before you leave the house.
There are drug therapy’s that work for some dogs, but try all of the above first and of course don’t try and drug therapies without your veterinarian’s approval.