Labrador separation anxiety can turn into a serious behavioral issue if not dealt with properly. A popular pet breed, Labrador Retrievers are known for their friendly disposition and social interactions. This makes these dogs prone to separation anxiety. Failure to recognize and deal with this problem can lead to serious trouble, including destructive behavior and self-harm, in your dog.
Why are Labradors prone to separation anxiety?
It is common to see Labrador separation anxiety, as the breed was purposefully created to be with the people all day while hunting. An intelligent breed, these dogs tend to get bored easily unless they have adequate mental stimulation. They are also very loyal and love the company of their owners and families.
Loyalty and intelligence are two admirable traits of these dogs. However, the combination of these traits contributes to the prevalence of separation anxiety in Labradors. The dog feels the absence of his master more and feels abandoned when neglected for long.
What are the signs of Labrador separation anxiety?
Your Labrador may start to behave unusually when he perceives signals that you are leaving. Some signs of Labrador separation anxiety are:
- excessive barking or howling
- destructive behavior
- frequent urination
- escape attempts
- biting off his own paws or legs
What should I do to prevent Labrador separation anxiety?
Attend to your Labrador’s basic needs
Attend to your Labrador’s needs before leaving the house. Feed him, walk him, and make sure he has had his potty break. Doing these things prior leaving may keep your Labrador contented and reduce his tendency to be apprehensive. With his usual routine followed, he is less likely to become anxious.
Keep him entertained
Another dog or puppy may help keep your Labrador entertained and engaged. He won’t feel alone. If you are not ready for any additional family members yet, toys should help keep your Labrador busy.
Be wary of your actions
Being intelligent, your Labrador can easily identify your actions prior to leaving him alone and turn disquiet. He can even link signs to conclude that you are leaving – be it by wearing your shoes, putting on lipstick, or any other thing you do before you leave. Change your “pre-departure” routine every now and then to prevent your Labrador from picking up signs that you are about to go out.
As loving owners, we tend to say our goodbyes to our dogs dramatically. Simply leave the house and do not give your Lab any sign he can associate with you leaving.
Train your Labrador to be alone
This is the best solution to stop Labrador separation anxiety. Start with short absences and gradually increase the time you spend outside. Observe your Labrador’s reaction each time you leave. Listen to your Labrador from outside your house and check his demeanor after coming back.
Crate train your Labrador
Some owners do not like the idea of putting dogs in crates. This is not a bad thing if you are only doing this for short periods of time. Crate training has a lot of benefits for the owner as well as for the dog. It teaches a dog that the crate is his safe haven and they can keep calm inside it. This may help lessen your Labrador’s fear of being alone.
Are punishments a good idea to deal with separation anxiety in Labradors?
Punishments are never a good idea when training or dealing with dogs. Never punish your Labrador if he displays destructive behaviors due to separation anxiety. Dogs do not understand the concept of punishment. Some dogs even think the punishment is better than being left alone and this could lead to more behavioral problems.
Are there medications available to treat Labrador separation anxiety?
Veterinarians can prescribe medications to ease separation anxiety in Labradors in severe cases wherein the dog resorts to self-harm. If your pet shows extreme behaviors due to separation anxiety, medication is an alternative to deal with the issue.
Diphenhydramine is one of the most common medications given to dogs with anxiety. It is an over-the-counter antihistamine that has sedative properties. It is best to consult your veterinarian before giving your Labrador any drug.
Many dog owners also use homeopathic solutions, including pulsatilla nigicans and passiflora, to quell to separation anxiety.