03 Feb Dachshund Separation Anxiety – 5 tips to ease the symptoms
Separation anxiety is a serious problem which is very common in dachshunds due to their ‘needy’ personalities and loyalty to their pack. If it’s not dealt with in a timely manner, separation anxiety can lead to all sorts of problematic issues such as excessive barking, whining, destructive behaviour and even depression.
It’s just as hard for your four legged friend as it is for you when you have to leave them at home alone (we totally get it). Life would be so much better if we could just take them everywhere with us, but of course that’s not the case. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix solution or miracle cure for separation anxiety. But whether you are dealing with a new puppy or an older rescue dachshund, the 5 tips outlined below can help ease the symptoms so you can live a happier, stress-free life together.
1. Start with exercise
We cannot stress how important it is to exercise your dachshund as well as provide adequate mental stimulation activities on a regular basis – especially on those days when you know you have to leave. Getting up early and going for a walk around the block might not sound fun to those who love a sleep in, but just think about how it will benefit you both!
It’s no secret that exercise and mental stimulation reduce stress and anxiety. Get your walking gear ready the night before, set your alarm a bit earlier and get up and go! You got this.
2. Obedience and discipline
Does your dachshund pull on the lead or think they are calling the shots around the house? If so, you need to step up as pack leader and set some rules and boundaries because it’s these behaviours that lead to greater problems. Seek help from a professional dog obedience trainer and learn how to rectify lead pulling and erratic behaviour ASAP. Your dachshund needs to know what’s expected of them on a day to day basis which comes with practice and consistency.
We have seen massive changes in our boys behaviour after getting help from a professional and we encourage you to do the same.
3. Limit your affection
As a strong pack leader you need to learn when to give affection and when not to – some might call this “tough love” but trust us, it works. While you are home, get your Dachshund used to being in their bed or crate while you go about your morning routine. Don’t allow them to follow you around the house, it will only make matters worse as they will think there’s a chance they might be coming with you.
Make time after your morning walk to play and be affectionate but after that, “tough love” kicks in. Set yourself up for success and start practicing the stay command whenever you have to leave a room to go grab something – these small increments of training will lead to greater results.
4. Desensitise sounds and actions
Sometimes just picking up your car keys can trigger anxious behaviour. Our boys used to go burko at the sound thinking that meant we are all going in the car together, now they don’t even flinch.
On days when you are home, pick up your keys as you walk around the house, move your handbag from one place to another, and open and shut the front door a few times over without actually leaving. Gradually build on this by grabbing your things and stepping out for a few minutes at a time, then coming right back without making a fuss. Practice this on a regular basis and your Dachshund will become desensitised to the sounds and actions of you leaving that once made them excited or anxious.
5. Don’t make a fuss
Do you return home to an over excited Dachshund that’s just dying for your attention? All you want to do is drop everything, smother them in kisses and apologise for ever having to leave in the first place – but you must resist! Coming home is just as important as leaving and you don’t want to undo all your hard work in one moment.
The best thing to do is enter your home calmly, put your things down and go about your business without providing any attention (no touch, no talk, no eye contact – thanks Cesar Milan) until your Dachshund is settled. The odds are they will catch on and settle down faster each time because at the end of the day, all they want to do is please you.
We understand how hard it is to resist those adorable puppy dog eyes, but if you’re dachshund is struggling with separation anxiety issues, it’s time to step up and set some rules and boundaries. Don’t let it get a point where your neighbours are sending you hate mail because your dachshund is being a public nuisance while you’re out (trust us when we say that’s not a fun letter to receive!). As we said, there’s no miracle cure, but if you put these 5 tips into practice and stay consistent, you can help ease the symptoms.
Please note: We are not professional dog trainers and these steps are purely from our own opinions and past experiences. If you are unsure if your Dachshund has separation anxiety or if you think there might be other underlying issues, please seek help from your Vet or a professional dog trainer.