What Is Pit Bull Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a very common problem that most dogs experience and pit bulls are no exception. Pit bull separation anxiety manifests itself at levels ranging from mild to severe. It can show itself as a brief round of barking when you leave to a much worse scenario of ripping up the house and incessantly barking while you’re gone. This can be very disconcerting until you realize that the problem is separation anxiety, and can be controlled.
Where Pit Bull Separation Anxiety Comes From
The role you play as Alpha Leader, or lead dog, in the household gives your pit bull a sense of security. Your dog’s attachment to, and dependence on you, his master, is strong. When you leave the house, he will grow agitated. Most of the anxiety felt, however, is not so much due to an attachment to you as it is an attachment to specific actions represented by your absence. Even though your pet does not like it when you leave, that is not justification for growing so agitated.
Pit bull separation anxiety happens because of behaviors embedded by routines. For instance, you lavish praise and attention on your pittie just before leaving , and as soon as you get home from work, or some other routine activity. After a while your dog develops expectations that are reinforced daily, and this can lead to a dog that cannot control his anxious anticipatory feelings in your absence.
How To Reduce Pit Bull Separation Anxiety
Reducing pit bull anxiety doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Here are a few methods to use to do the job.
Vary the routine – Your pit bull may respond anxiously to triggers related to your leaving the house.
These triggers can include:
The sound of the alarm clock ringing.
The buzzing of an electric razor.
The opening of a dresser drawer.
Change your morning routine – Try getting up at different times. Lay your clothes out the night before. Shave with a blade instead of an electric razor. Of course, your routine may not be like this one, but the point is that subtle changes in routine can go a long way in reducing pit bull separation anxiety.
Avoid behavior reinforcement – If your pit bull has come to expect your attention before you leave the house and when you get back home, it is partly because you have reinforced the behavior by giving lots of attention before you leave the house and when you get back home. Simple enough, right?
To reduce pit bull separation anxiety, simply remove the association between your exits and returns and the giving of affection. As hard as this may be, try ignoring your dog for 10-15 minutes when you get home. Do not lavish him with attention when you leave. Be firm and consistent; don’t give in to whimpering or barking.
Interval training – This is pretty self explanatory. Simply leave the house, then come back at longer and longer intervals. As your time away increases, so does your dog’s tolerance of that time length. And, of course, you do not want to pour attention on your pit bull every time you walk in or out of the doorway as this would defeat the purpose of the training.
A Win-Win Situation
The solutions to pit bull separation anxiety reduction are far from cruel. The opposite is quite true in fact. By showing your dog that he can’t have everything he wants when he wants it, you are asserting your alpha dog position in the pack. This helps your dog to feel safe and relaxed in the knowledge that you have things under control and that there is no reason for them to feel that anxiety. This is good for you and it is good for the dog–a win-win.
Pit Bull Separation Anxiety Training
When your Pitbull becomes too reliant on you he may become very upset or distressed when you leave him alone. This could be a sign of separation anxiety and may result in your dog displaying inappropriate behaviour. This doesn’t mean your Pit Bull is being bad, he may just be trying to communicate his fear and anxiety. With a little dog separation anxiety training you will be able to calm his worries and prevent him from getting worked up and misbehaving when he’s left alone.
Desensitize Him to Leaving Signals
Your Pit Bull is smart and can understand what certain signals mean. When you grab his food bowl, he may get excited knowing that it’s meal time. He probably runs to the door with his tail wagging when you pick up his leash. He also knows that when you grab your keys, shoes, or coat, you plan on leaving him alone. If he starts getting worked up and whines or jumps up on you when you try to leave, some dog separation anxiety training may be needed.
You can get him used to the clues of leaving your house by picking up your keys and walking around with them, but not going anywhere. Put your shoes or coat on at random times in the day and just walk around in them for awhile. Disassociating these actions from the act of leaving will eventually make him much calmer for the times that you actually do leave your house.
Practice Leaving the House
A very effective dog separation anxiety training technique involves leaving your house for short periods of time to show your dog that you really will be coming back. When you leave, your dog may not understand that you’ll return to him, so walk out of your house and close the door for a few minutes then come back in to him.
Keep doing this for short periods until he responds calmly. Reward him for his good behavior and increase the length of time you leave. Eventually add in the sound of your car starting, then the sound of your driving away. When he sees that you always return, he should start to become much less anxious when he sees you go.
Distance Yourself from Him
You may love to spend as much time as possible with your Pitbull, but this could be what’s causing his anxiety. Another dog separation anxiety training method is to not allow him to sit beside you at all times or sleep with you in your bed. Do drills with him to make him stay in one room while you spend time in another and give him a treat when he does as you wish. You can still spend plenty of time with him, but by slowly incorporating some distance between you, he’ll be much calmer and comfortable when he’s left alone.
It is important to address any dog health issues immediately, whether mental or physical. Mild separation anxiety will be controlled by implementing the simple techniques included here. If your pittie has issues that are too severe for you to resolve using the techniques suggested, you may have to seek further help. Start with your veterinarian. The objective is to have a happy, healthy relationship with your pet Pit Bull.