About 40% of dogs suffer separation anxiety for different reasons, and destroy everything they find at hand. Some of them suffer from this disorder as a result of premature weaning, moving home or abandonment, while others have developed it after experiencing a traumatic situation alone.
Separation anxiety is defined as the state of stress reached by the dog when it does not have access to its caregiver. This state does not occur because the animal feels dependent on its human, but because it is not capable of managing the situation of loneliness and separation. But it is not an obsession, but an attachment bond and an inability to build a balance being alone.
Some stay home doing nothing, but the ones with separation anxiety tear it apart. What you have to be clear about is that they are not doing it to annoy you, it is just the way they have to release their anxiety.
How do I prevent my dog from destroying my house? Are there tricks to keep them calm while alone?
almudena escobar, an assistance and therapy dog trainer, is convinced that with time and dedication the dog can adapt perfectly to everything you ask of it. To begin with, you have to be clear about her needs and then you have to teach her that there is something positive in enjoying those moments of solitude.
1. Enriched rides
It is clear that they must go out every so often. But apart from their physiological needs being met, it is important that the person does not release the dog in a park and start playing with his mobile. The dog loves to learn things and the walk is ideal for that.
“You can go with some food and teach him tricks, hide things for him to find, run, find you. Not only do you have to tire his body, but also his mind. Then, when they get home, what they want is sleep and rest. But they need to feel active”, explains the trainer.
2. If you don’t have time, have a support walker
There are times that the rhythm of daily life prevents us from dedicating the time we should to walking our pet. It’s not that we don’t want to, we just can’t stretch out the hours of the day any longer.
In that case, more and more people are engaged in dog walking. In this way, you prevent him from being alone at home for too many hours without going outside, at the same time that he will play with others of his kind. An extra walk often solves their need to go out to relieve themselves and feel active.
3. The famous Kong: game and food
The kong is that toy of different sizes (and colors) that is used to put food inside and entertain them by taking it out when you are not there.
“It is important that it is not just another toy, they should associate it with when they are left alone. And it is also important to fill it with something that they do not usually eat often, that is, it has to be something that they love and that is special to them”, Almudena explains.
“When you leave the house, even for five minutes, you give it to them. When you come back you take it off and put it back in the freezer. And so, regardless of how long you’re away. In the end, for them, you leave home It will be associated with that moment in which they have something that they love, that is, it will be something positive”.
4. Hide some prizes around the house
They can be toys for them or those bones that they sell with which they spend hours and hours. If you hide it, for them it is a game, they activate their mind and instead of sleeping or getting bored the dog entertains itself by exercising its sense of smell and its ingenuity. When they find it, instead of raging on the sofa, they dedicate themselves body and soul to their prey.
5. The Vick Vaporub
Most dogs hate with all their might this substance that humans use when we have colds. “For them it is not toxic, so if it is spread a little in those areas most punished by them, it can be a perfect solution. On the sofa, on the furniture, on the wall or wherever they usually look,” explains the specialist.
“As soon as they get close to the Vick Vaporub they are terrified. Chinese tiger balm is also good, since it has the same effect. And if they eat it, because it is also true that some crazy person likes it, all that can happen to them is to start breathing better”.
6. Some pieces of lemon
If you have a dog that grabs things from the kitchen or everything it finds on the table, the best thing you can do is set traps for it. They can’t stand citrus and if you leave some lemon wedges within their reach, you’ll make them lose their desire to continue stealing food that isn’t allowed.
7. Intelligence games
One key thing is to keep your mind busy. There is nothing better than cognitive games to activate your mind. They basically consist of encouraging their ingenuity to get prizes using their sense of smell, their paws or their snout. They have different levels and, as is logical, the ideal is to start with the lowest, no matter how smart we think our dog is, so that he does not get frustrated.
At first you should play with them, to make sure that they have understood what they have to do. They usually have small prizes hidden inside the game and you will have to slide some pieces to get to them. They are quite resistant and non-toxic. And, in addition to keeping them entertained for a long time, they manage to reduce the level of separation anxiety.
While you shouldn’t confuse separation anxiety with high-energy dogs, these tricks can still be applied to both situations to keep your dog from destroying your house when he’s left alone, while helping him get better.