The Effects of Daytime Isolation on Your Dog
Who doesn’t want to come home to a dog eager to see them? It’s a big, warm welcome after a long day at work.
But how often do we consider things from our dog’s perspective? For them, it’s a long day of daytime isolation.
Dogs are extremely social creatures – that means they thrive in our company.
Here at Doggie Playmates, we know many dog owners feel uncomfortable leaving their dogs at home all day. Yet, it’s often a necessity with no alternative. The demands of work and life mean it’s not always appropriate to have our dog by our side or left with others.
But what effect does daytime isolation have on your dog? And what are the signs and symptoms for which you need to watch out?
What is dog separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is pretty straightforward. When your dog is left alone, they feel distressed at the absence of their primary caregiver. But there are also two similar disorders:
– Isolation distress. Your dog cannot tolerate being left alone.
– Containment phobia. Your dog feels trapped in confined spaces.
All of these anxieties are perfectly understandable. Indeed, many children and adults display similar disorders. But they often present differently in dogs.
Symptoms of daytime isolation
Initially, in the moments after you leave, your dog may be extremely upset. That means a fast heart and breathing rate, increased salivation, and panting. Then, after 15 minutes or so, your dog may settle down. Often, they’ll find objects with your scent for security.
If the anxiety worsens, your dog may follow you incessantly when you return.
Isolation distress, in contrast, can cause symptoms of destructiveness, loss of bowel or bladder control, and excessive distress vocalisations ( incessant barking , whining or howling)
Finally, containment phobia is characterised by frantic attempts to escape. Doors, walls, crates, kennels, and fences can all be mauled or destroyed as the dog attempts to break free.
How to handle daytime isolation in dogs
We, at Doggie Playmates Daycare, are experienced in handling dogs who have developed daytime isolation issues.
The problem isn’t insurmountable. There are techniques dog owners can use to help reduce their dog’s anxiety when alone.
1. Decompression periods
Start training your dog with decompression periods. Here a barrier separates your dog and you, but you remain within sight. The point here is to emphasise the separation. Put toys nearby and even tether your dog or puppy to a piece of heavy furniture. Just remain close by.
2. Alone training
Once your dog is comfortable with separation, you need to acclimatise them to no one being there. There are three key stages:
Step 1: induce a dog to calm down in response to leaving triggers, e.g., putting on shoes or getting keys.
Step 2: Induce a dog to calm down after unlocking, stepping through, and shutting the door. Disappear only for a second before returning.
Step 3: Finally, lengthen the absences in increments of seconds and then minutes, as your dog begins to tolerate it.
Compensating alone time
Try to allocate regular times to spend with your dog to relieve the stress of alone time. Activities like a run in the park or along the beach, ball and tug activities; meetups with other dog owners and their dogs, (play-dates).
Active together time is more beneficial than cuddles and treats for the dog that spends a lot of alone time. Regular play visits with other dogs at a doggie daycare service would give your dog valuable companion play experiences