How to Deal With Separation Anxiety in German Shepherds
If you have ever been separated from your family for a long time at a young age, then you’ll have a clue of what separation anxiety feels like. In some instances, you don’t have to be young to feel it. Once you’ve developed a strong bond with a person or a group of people, you’ll struggle when you’re separated from them. This struggle can be easy to beat depending on several factors, but it can also be tough to deal with. In the canine world, things aren’t so different. Just like humans, dogs experience separation anxiety as well. If your dog is separated from its parents or siblings after they’ve bounded for a while, it will show signs of separation anxiety.
While all known breeds of domesticated dogs will exhibit some degree of separation anxiety, it could be very prominent in German Shepherd owing to their instinctively affectionate nature. Your German Shepherd could be terrified if it is separated from its parents or siblings. However, the intensity and likelihood of your German Shepherd to fall into separation anxiety depend on several factors. Some of them include genetics, training, health, temperament, parent’s temperament, and several other physical and mental health factors.
Dog owners initially dismiss signs of separation anxiety as something that will eventually wear off. However, if not dealt with at its early stage, severe separation anxiety can be very crippling to your dog. Some common signs of separation anxiety in German Shepherds include:
- Excessive barking or whining
- Biting of paws
- frequent change of positions
- trying to run away from home
- excessive drooling.
If you own a German Shepherd and you suspect that it’s battling with separation anxiety, this article will give you some useful ideas on how to help your dog.
Handling Separation Anxiety In German Shepherds
Put Them Through Lots of Exercises
German Shepherds are intelligent and playful. However, they get bored easily. When they are separated from their family or owners, that boredom could get very crippling. An easy way to fix this is by getting them to exercise more often. If they are separated from their playmates, frequent exercises will keep them active and fend against boredom. If you’re wondering about the amount of exercise they’ll need; the more, the merrier, but don’t overdo it. Apart from being separated from their canine family, German Shepherds might also get emotional every time they are separated from their owners. If your German Shepherd gets unusually anxious or angry when you want to leave home, giving it some exercise routines before leaving could work magic.
First, the exercise will keep your dog too busy to feel the impact of the separation. After it’s done with the exercise, it will also be too busy being tired to feel bored. If you intend to leave for a long time, you should instruct whoever is left with it at home to put the dog through various exercises. This could be an opportunity to start training it on a new trick like dancing, jumping obstacles, or playing bomb detector. Keeping your dog active doesn’t only help it shrug of separation anxiety, but it also helps it maintain a clean bill of health.
Disrupt Your Daily Routine A Bit
All dogs, irrespective of breed, are big on following patterns and routine. That is precisely why they’re easy to train. On the other hand, their ability to follow patterns means they’ll also be able to predict yours. If you leave for work in the morning, your dog will eventually get to know this. It would also associate mornings as the period it gets separated from you. Consequently, your dog may start getting anxious every time you’re about to leave for work every morning. You need to try disrupting your daily routine to break its anxiety pattern.
Try leaving home at times your dog isn’t used to seeing you leave. Come back at times it doesn’t expect you home. If necessary, sneak in and out to make sure it doesn’t get a hold of your movement pattern. Show up and play with it at timed it isn’t used. Make it hard for it to predict your actions and availability, and you’ll break its habit of associating certain times with separation anxiety.
Go Easy on The Affection
If you are a big dog lover, then you’ll likely be showering your dog with so much love and attention. This naturally means you’ll be spending a lot of time with your dog. While this isn’t entirely a bad thing, your dog will feel the impact of your absence more severely if you’ve been spending quite a lot of time with it. If you’re planning on travelling or doing something that will keep you away from your German Shepherd for a long time, then you need to ease it into getting comfortable with your absence. Of course, that won’t happen in the blink of an eye, but you can make it happen by going easy on the amount of time and affection you shower on it. Gradually reducing the time you spend with it will help it adjust quickly to your absence whenever you are not available for a while. However, this does not in any way mean we are spreading the gospel of “spending less time with your dog.” No, far from it. Your dog should get as much care and attention as you can possibly give it. Helping it adjust to your absence is also a form of care.
Practice Positive Reinforcements
Positive reinforcements work with dogs too. If your German Shepherd starts exhibiting loneliness or any naughty behavior while you want to leave home, you can nip it at the bud using positive reinforcements. However, positive reinforcements work only for mild cases of separation anxiety; more severe cases might require several solutions. The goal here is to reward the dog’s positive behavior. If it starts barking and getting restless when you want to leave, you can express your displeasure in a way that it notices. Similarly, when it keeps calm and at peace when you want to leave, you can reward it with its favorite treat or food.
While medication may not be entirely necessary, it may also be of immense help in helping your German Shepherd manage severe cases of separation anxiety. However, you must consult a qualified vet before administering any medication to your German Shepherd.