If you are a dog owner, you've probably heard about separation anxiety. Separation anxiety means that your dog is having trouble dealing with being separated from you while you're gone. It is uncomfortable being alone at home.
Dogs are social beings. This means that it is not natural for them to be in isolation for long periods of time. Some breeds can handle being alone for a few hours. French bulldogs are one of them. But some breeds won't be able to handle it at all.
Even though french bulldogs are calm and can handle a few hours of isolation, they are still capable of experiencing separation anxiety.
If your french bulldog is acting out as a result of you being away, you have to understand that this behavior is a result of it being anxious. It is not misbehaving to get revenge.
You should not be so quick to punish or discipline your french bulldog if that happens. This will make it more anxious and stressed out. See it as an opportunity to help the dog get better instead of looking at it as bad behavior.
According to Science Direct, owners that physically punish their dogs more cause their dogs to be less playful and jovial in life. It also causes the dog to trust you less.
There are many ways that you can fix this and help you french bulldog know that you being away is both normal and ok.
Keep in mind that any method will take time and require consistency and patience. On average, it takes anywhere from several weeks to a couple of months for the teaching to kick in.
Here are some things you can do to help eliminate separation anxiety:
Build Confidence in Your French Bulldog
Once you start to have a daily practice session with your french bulldog, you will begin to help it become more confident in being alone. Try going through two sessions a day that are five minutes in length.
In these sessions, you should practice basic commands for your dog. Teach it to come towards you, sit down, stay put, roll over, speak, and many more.
Remember that any training you do should always be positive and uplifting. Keep in mind that your dog is sort of like your child. If you make commands that are demanding and aggressive, the dog will become afraid and reluctant to continue.
Make the Environment Comfortable
It would be best if your dog had somewhere to go in the house that is calming and soothing. This area should be a place
where the dog can feel safe and relaxed. You can teach the dog a command that tells it to go to that place when it is time. Then you can give it a treat when it does so.
When the dog is in that place, shower it with affection. You should even aim to make this the place where you give it the most affection and attention while you're going through this training. This will trigger a positive memory in its mind whenever it goes to this place.
Give you french bulldog affection but resist doing so when the dog is trying to command the affection. When it comes to you to get petted, ignore this behavior. Teach the dog that you are in control of when it gets this type of treatment, not the other way around.
This study suggests that you purchase a toy or device that makes a sound so that the dog stays distracted or calm while you leave the room.
Teach the Dog to Be Independent
Most dogs that have separation anxiety will follow their owners everywhere they go. This is the first habit you need to help your dog break.
This is an innocent thing and that is what makes it so hard for owners to do. But you must remember that this is the key to helping the dog become less anxious when you're gone.
Try to get the dog to stay down and give it a treat every time it stays down a minute longer than it did before. Try adding seconds before you add minutes to the amount of time it should stay down.
Once the dog stays down, increase the amount of distance between you two and come back before the dog gets anxious.
Once you do this and increase the time and distance with each practice, you will eventually be able to leave the room.
Give the Dog Some Alone Time
Put your french bulldog in a room or crate that you know it enjoys being in. Close the door and go to another place in the house for only seconds at a time. After that, try building it up to minutes.
To distract the dog, give it something like a toy or a treat that takes a bit of time to eat so you have enough time to go back and forth. Once you get to thirty minutes, that should be enough time to get the dog used to be in the room alone.
For now, you're only giving the dog the treat during the sessions. Eating is a relaxing activity that helps dogs to relieve stress.
If you can get the dog to enjoy whatever it is that you gave it when you leave, it will become easier for it to distract itself from your absence after a while.
Arrive Quietly and Leave Quietly
It can be tempting to comfort your dog when you see that it is freaking out when you're getting ready to leave.
Don't greet the dog or say goodbye. This will help it stay calm and controlled whenever it comes in contact with you. Try to ignore your dog for 15 minutes before you leave and when you return home.
Some people can't recognize the exact behaviors that mean your dog is getting anxious when you leave or return.
If you see that your french bulldog is whimpering and panting or running around, this is a dead giveaway. It will be difficult to give in at first, but try your hardest to resist comforting the dog while this is happening.
Make a Habit of Departure Signals
Make a list of all the things that you do before you leave that makes the dog become alarmed. Most people pick up their keys, put their coat on, or walk towards the door. These actions trigger anxiety in your french bulldog.
Continue to do perform these actions every day and wait for the dog to respond. Do it more every day until you see that it no longer reacts. Once you get to the point where it is not reacting, move on to another action.
When you perform these actions you do not have to actually leave the house to go anywhere. Try doing it just to step outside and come back in.
The biggest thing to remember is that while you're doing this training, you should never leave the dog for too long. Work from seconds to minutes.
Never leave the dog alone for hours at a time while you are doing this training. This will reverse all of your hard work and you will be back at square one.
AVMA suggests that you can also use a pheromone and release it into the air to help the dog remain calm.
Check out this YouTube video for more information about different things you can do to help get rid of separation anxiety.
Try to get the dog into some type of daycare or hire a babysitter until you are able to finish the training. If that isn't possible for you, try to keep the dog in an area where it can do minimal damage.
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.