Do Bark Collars Work for Separation Anxiety?
If you are a dog owner with a pup that suffers from separation anxiety, you need to be away of the fact that the key word is not separation but rather anxiety. This is a common issue with pups, occurring most often in breeds that are more highly strung and are generally more prone to anxiety.
Pups with this syndrome show signs of anxiety like barking and whining, especially when you are not present.
Dogs with separation anxiety often display destructive habits like clawing or chewing carpets, furniture, walls, or sometimes even themselves. This can lead to damage to your property and possibly self-harm to your pup.
Some dogs experience the anxiety to such a degree that they have ripped their way through fences or jumped out of windows.
Do Bark Collars Work for Separation Anxiety?
Sadly, separation anxiety is one of the toughest, most intractable behavioral issues found in dogs. This means that many owners resort to using crating and bark collars in an attempt to prevent damage to their home and suppress anxiety symptoms.
While a bark collar may initially work, it does not address any of the underlying anxiety issues that are affecting your dog. This means your dog will eventually start barking and whining in spite of the shock or vibration that the collar administers. This could lead to more trauma and anxiety in your dog.
How to Treat Separation Anxiety?
The main treatments recommended are behavioral modification and exercise. Most pups with this syndrome have high energy levels, so plenty of exercise often helps alleviate the anxiety symptoms.
Behavior modification involves taking steps to reducing the wind-up anxiety which happens when you get ready to leave home. It also includes teaching your pup to spend longer time spans alone even when you are home.
Distractions and enrichment activities during absences help alleviate some of the symptoms too.
Here are a few easy tips that you can try on your dog to keep them calm and relaxed, reducing their stress and anxiety.
- Exercise your pup for at least 30 minutes every single day
- Teach them basic obedience commands like sit, come, down, stay for 20 minutes every day. Use a reward system rather than a reprimand system to encourage them rather than punishing them for not complying
- Wean your pup from being with you all the time. Keep them in a separate room or outside when you are home
- Give them a yummy distraction that they can enjoy while you are not home. Use the stay command to put distance between yourself and your dog when you are leaving home.
- Ignore them for 20 minutes when you get home and before you leave. Hellos and goodbyes can make their anxiety even worse
- When they are left alone, confine them to one room that they are least likely to cause damage or disturb your neighbors. Remember to leave a radio playing on low to distract them from feeling alone
- Do not leave your dog in a closed crate. It is very common for pups with separation anxiety to experience panic attacks if they are left in a crate. Your dog could cause a lot of damage to their feet, face, and mouth in an attempt to claw or chew their way out of the crate
- Do not use a bark collar on your dog as it is not likely to work
- Visit your vet to get an antidepressant for your pup. Clomipramine or clomicalm is a commonly used antidepressant drug used for dogs with separation anxiety. If your dog suffers from severe anxiety or you are going to be gone for a longer amount of time than normal, you can also give your dog an anti-anxiety drug around an hour before you leave. No medication can cure separation anxiety, so it should only be used as a treatment not a cure, and you should investigate other treatments in conjunction with it. Desensitization is a good option to follow
- Start using a flooding and desensitization program. The flooding part involves entering and leaving your home so often (every couple of minutes) that you wear your dog out. Make sure that you do not return until your pup has stopped barking or whining. The desensitization part involves doing the normal cues that you will be leaving like putting on your shoes, getting a coat, and picking up your keys, then not leaving. This teaches your dog not to fear these actions which will normally trigger the anxiety.
With all things above considered, it is the general consensus of professionals and trainers that a bark collar will not work for separation anxiety and will typically create more of a problem.