A question we often hear at Petfoods4u is, how do I deal with my dogs anxiety?
Whether this be separation anxiety, stranger anxiety or general anxiety it would seem that many of our customers are looking for an answer to this question.
The answer we often Provide to many of those seeking some answers from our centuries of experience caring for dogs is simply, there is no one solution.
What works for one dog, may not work for another, some dogs whine and bark from distress, others from habit and others to show assertion in the house.
One thing we use in our kennels here at the farm is Pet Remedy, this is a natural valerian spray, we also recommend Adaptil which is stronger however less natural as it is lab created to replicate the pheromones of the dogs mother and therefore bring comfort.
Another way to help with separation anxiety is to leave the TV on, or at least a radio on classic fm, remember you want gentle soothing voices and relaxing music not drum and base to stress them out even more.
Ensure a dog has access to an area they consider their safe space, we have always used cage crates as we are quite regimented with our dogs as we have many of them and need to be systematic to ensure we meet their physical and mental needs.
Bones are a great idea to leave down if you are to be gone for a few hours, but remember it is recommended a dog is supervised with a bone and therefore you need to be incredibly careful what you leave them with, Chicken or lamb bones would generally be a bad idea, marrow bones and fish products along with mainly cartilage joints like the poultry necks would be a safer option.
If you can leave the back door open and you feel safe enough with your dog as a look out then that is always going to help their stress levels.
My dog barks at strangers, or more out of habit
Ultimately if this is the case you are dealing with, you have a training requirement on your hands, you need to identify this and spend time dealing with it. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to retrain the out of bad habits, but even a long term barker will soon learn.
We would recommend:
1) Dog training with a skilled practitioner or behaviourist.
Training will allow you to develop methods for rewarding positive behaviour and ignoring or sometimes punishing the bad.
2) Dog socialisation, these are often run at vets, or in a less formal setting busy walk trails, don't pull your dog away from other dogs and their owners, if they are with a dog themselves then they clearly like dogs and wouldn't take offence to your dog sniffing them or their dog.
3) Dog collars - We don't recommend shock collars as a general rule, these will most likely stress your dog out even further, but check out the collars available, as there are many humane ones now being sold including ones which vibrate and ones that release a citronella odour, beep or shine a light to distract them.
4) Some dogs, especially little dogs develop this most unhealthy relationship where they start to rule the house, this is ultimately a training requirement and specialist help and guidance should be sought, however you can help this situation by showing very clear boundaries with the dog.
If they sit on the sofa and you don't desire this, tell them "NO" firmly, repeat this a couple of times and if you ignored then show then to their cage crate for the night.
Remember, to be consistent and before you know it you will reap the rewards.