As a dog owner, you likely know these special animals are highly social. Dogs are descendants of wolves, which travel in packs. Pack ideology is what makes a dog want to be around other dogs and people. Dogs never like to be left alone, and some dogs develop separation anxiety as a result.
Older dogs can be particularly prone to the development of separation anxiety. It is important to note that this condition is a real problem and is not just something your dog does to get attention. While you may think your dog is simply acting out and throwing a fit, he is truly suffering from a high level of anxiety and needs your help to overcome his fears.
What Is Canine Separation Anxiety?
One of the most abusive things you can do as a dog owner, aside from hurting your dog, is to neglect him. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to pay attention to your dog and spend time with him daily. He needs your love and attention.
Dogs are living creatures that are highly intelligent. Once you claim them as your own, they will love you for life. A dog will even love an abusive owner, that is how special these animals are.
When you establish a strong bond with your dog, you create trust. A dog who is loved and showered with attention is more likely to be obedient to its owner because he wants to please him. When a dog is left alone frequently, he may make messes, tear up items in the home, or even use the bathroom on the carpet.
Many owners think their dogs are doing these things on purpose. The truth is, your dog is going through severe anxiety and does not know how to control himself. Your dog is attempting to get your attention and show you he is in pain. He has no other way to express his sadness, fear, and loneliness. I want you to be aware of the signs of separation anxiety so you will be aware of your dog’s suffering and take action.
Common Signs of Dog Separation Anxiety
Your dog will exhibit certain signs when he has separation anxiety. Paying attention to your dog’s behavior is highly important for ensuring you know how to help him overcome his anxiety and fears. The following are some of the top signs you will notice.
1. Bathroom Accidents
One of the first separation anxiety symptoms dog owners notice is dogs urinating or defecating when left alone. Shockingly, dogs will also sometimes eat their poop because of their high level of anxiety. If your dog has bathroom accidents in your presence, this is not separation anxiety.
When a dog exhibits extreme stress due to separation anxiety, they will often tear up things to deal with their fears. Destructive behavior is a common sign of separation anxiety and should not be ignored. Your dog may chew holes in furniture, chew up cords, or tear the filling out of couch cushions. In some cases, your dog could even injure himself from these destructive behaviors.
3. Excessive Noise
When dogs have left home alone for long periods, they will often howl, bark, or cry very loudly. If your dog does not normally exhibit this behavior, it is likely a direct cause of his anxiety levels.
4. Escape Attempts
Running away is also a common symptom of separation anxiety. This is a defensive mechanism dog will exhibit when they are afraid. Your dog may attempt to claw his way through walls, doors, or even windows. This defensive action has the potential to cause great injuries to your dog.
What Triggers Separation Anxiety?
Knowing what can trigger your dog’s feelings of anxiety is important for helping him stay calm. Sometimes, it is quite difficult for owners to pinpoint the exact causes of their dog’s high anxiety levels. The following are some of the possible triggers you should consider.
Dogs are creatures of habit. They like routine and want things to stay the same. For instance, if you were to get a new job that keeps you away from home longer, your dog may begin to experience increased anxiety. Separation anxiety will also sometimes get triggered by a change in your dog’s feeding or walking schedule.
Moving to a New Location
As humans, we have a difficult time acclimating to a new place. Why should you expect anything different from your dog? Dogs do not usually like a change of scenery. It brings on their anxiety. Moving into a new home can lead to a trigger of separation anxiety.
Whenever possible, a dog should never be rehomed or abandoned. When a dog’s owner dies or they are abandoned, they go through terrible levels of anxiety. A dog will take a long time to grow accustomed to being with a new owner.
Dogs will also suffer from separation anxiety when a new pet or baby is brought into the home. Anything that takes their owner’s attention may bring on anxiety.
How to Crate Train an Older Dog With Separation Anxiety
Now that you better understand the reasons for your dog’s anxiety and the symptoms he is exhibiting, it is time to consider the options for making him feel more comfortable, at ease, and protected.
Your dog needs security and routine. It is highly beneficial to crate train older dogs that have separation anxiety. By crate training your dog, he learns his crate is a safe and secure place for him to rest.
When you are gone, your dog will find the best dog crate you can provide to be a safe place of retreat while he waits for your return. Believe me, when I say this, your dog is constantly waiting for you to come back to him!
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you must take crate training slowly . To get started, it would be wise to put him in a room alone with a baby gate. Make sure he has some bedding to lie on, along with a water source. Monitor his reactions while you are out of the room. This should be a test to see if your dog begins to suffer from anxiety symptoms .
Before you get started on crate training your older dog with anxiety, please remember you are going to need a lot of patience. This process takes time and cannot be rushed.
The key to successfully crate training your dog is to take things slowly. Your furry friend needs time to adapt to his crate at his own pace. If you try to rush him, anxiety symptoms will continue to occur.
It is wise to start crate training when you have a few days to commit to your dog. You will also need to make sure you have comfortable bedding, toys, and the treats your dog loves.
You will need to make sure you choose the right dog crate. There are many styles available. You must ensure the crate is large and comfortable enough for your dog’s body size—there are large dog crates, small dog crates, and more. If the crate is too small, your dog will not be able to move around freely. Dog crates with dividers are your best bet if you want kennels that are adjustable as your puppy grows.
The process of crate training a dog may seem difficult but the main thing to keep in mind is your dog needs to like his new crate. If he likes the crate, he is more likely to acclimate to your training efforts. Take the following steps to help your dog get used to staying in his new crate while you are away.
1. Help Your Dog Get Used to the Crate
Do not put your dog in a new crate and lock him away right at first. He needs time to go in on his own free will and check out the surroundings. Let him sniff the new crate. Put treats inside to encourage him to go in.
It also helps to go ahead and name the crate. Naming the crate now will help your dog grow accustomed to training. You can say go in “the name of the crate” and he will go.
2. How to Get Your Dog to Go Inside the Crate
One of the most difficult aspects of crate training is getting your dog to go inside. The most important thing to remember is to never force your dog into the crate. Forcing him inside the crate could cause him to react negatively and become afraid.
Try putting treats or your dog’s favorite toy inside and then walk away. Allow him to sniff out the treat or attempt to go get his toy. Try doing this a few times a day so he will start feeling comfortable going into and out of the crate. Make sure to praise your dog when he is obedient and goes into the crate without issue.
3. Locking the Door
Once your dog becomes comfortable with its crate, you can begin by shutting the door and walking away. Eventually, you will need to start attempting to lock the door. Only lock it for a few seconds at first. Gradually increase the time until your dog remains without stress.
4. Remain, Patient
Please try your best to remain patient at all times. Your dog is going to need your patience to understand his new crate is a safe place. Give your dog plenty of time to grow accustomed to his new surroundings. You will find he will eventually be able to overcome his separation anxiety with your help.
FAQ Questions About Crate Training Anxious Dogs
If your older dog suffers from separation anxiety, you are likely looking for solutions that will help you bring him comfort. I have provided you with a lot of information to get you started but you may still have questions. If you none of the above informations helps your pup, it might be time to seek the help of certified applied animal behaviorist. The following are some of the top questions about crate training an older dog with separation anxiety.
1. Should you crate a dog with separation anxiety?
While crate training is highly beneficial for many dogs, all dogs are different. What works for one might make another dog more anxious. This training process is going to take time. Gauge your dog’s reaction. Does he improve over time, or does he remain anxious? If steady improvements are not occurring or he seems worse, crate training may not be right for your dog.
2. How do you treat separation anxiety in older dogs?
To treat separation anxiety in an older dog, check with your vet first. Make sure there are no underlying medical conditions that could be causing the anxiety symptoms. If your adult dog takes any medications, ask about side effects. If the problem is mild, crate training is helpful. For severe anxiety, medications may be prescribed by your vet.
3. How long does it take to crate train a dog with separation anxiety?
The time it will take for your dog to grow accustomed to his crate will depend. Some dogs are trained within a week while others may take months. Patience is key when crate training, especially if your older dog has separation anxiety. Do not rush him, and you will find he responds much better.
4. Can you crate train an older dog?
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but this is not correct. Your older dog can learn to go into his crate and stay happy but it is going to take time and patience. Remember to give your dog time to feel comfortable. Reward and praise him consistently.
Get Started Right Away
If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, now is the time to see how he does with crate training. To see success, make sure your dog remains as calm as possible. Take time to work with him and ensure he understands a crate is a safe place for him. It may take time, but crate training can help your older dog with separation anxiety.