Separation anxiety is one of the more common problems that Havanese dog owners face. After all your dog is extremely loyal and wants to go wherever the owner goes. We would love to have our Havanese accompany us wherever we go but that is just not feasible especially when we have to go to work or to areas where dogs are not allowed.
Leaving them at home can cause anywhere from slight levels of anxiety to severe behavioral problems that result in barking and destruction of your things at home. When you come home you may find that your dog has chewed through your favourite pair of shoes or has peed on the carpet because they were anxious when you were not around. It is sometimes hard to imagine that your cute Havanese turns into a little monster at home, all because they get worried that you left them and won’t return.
The Sources of Dog Separation Anxiety
The main driving force behind the anxiety is their inherent nature of being pack animals and separating them from the pack causes them uncertainty and agitation. They feel a sense of detachment when their master leaves and that gets them disturbed. In fact, there are certain actions that the owner takes that builds on this anxiety and gets them even more agitated.
For example, if you give them attention before you leave or right after you return and this is done on a consistent basis every day, the pattern you set gets engrained in their routine and their agitation builds day after day.
Reducing Dog Separation Anxiety
What you don’t realize is that you actually have more control on their agitation than you may think. Certain changes in your actions could go a long way in reducing their agitation and thus curbing their anxiety.
Here are some simple ways you can reduce the anxiety:
Mix it up every day: If you have a set number of tasks you do each day before you leave, you may want to change it around a bit. If you know that your Havanese dog starts to act up when you pick up the car keys, for instance, try using another approach to get your keys the next time. Put your keys in your pocket well ahead of time before leaving. Another common trigger is their morning walk just before being left. If they know you leave them at home right after you walk them, try taking them for a walk well before you plan to leave.
Remain neutral: It is difficult not to give them affection just before you leave. After all you will be miss them all day too. However, doing this only escalates their anxiety when you leave them. The same applies when you return home. Try not to give them excessive attention before you leave or right after you return. The most effective way to lower their anxiety is to disassociate your leaving and returning with the amount of attention they receive. It is recommended that you pretend nothing has changed before you leave or when you return and you do that by ignoring your dog for 10 minutes before and after. Don’t pet them or hug them during those moments even if they make sad noises or have a sad expression. Remember, you are doing this only to help them reduce their anxiety when you are not at home.
Start with shorter periods: If you see your dog is getting anxious as soon as you leave, go out for a few minutes and then come back in. That will change their expectation of how long you will be gone and when you return. You can slowly increase the time you leave them so it would appear natural to them that you do come back even if you leave.
You Are Not Being Mean
You may think that some of these methods are cruel and it certainly feels that way when dealing with Havanese dogs who get extremely attached to their owner. What you need to realize is that when you do this you reduce their anxiety which in turn allows them to be calmer and healthier in the long run.
If your dog’s anxiety problems carry on for a long time, you should do everything you can to reduce it early and not let it get worse. The last thing you want to do is come home to find your Havanese dog has done something they shouldn’t have and you immediately respond by shouting at them (and that happens because you created that situation in the first place).
You can learn about these and other training secrets at the Havanese Training site.