Practical advice for owners of anxious Whippets
The Whippet is a breed of dog that is very affectionate and attached to its owner. However, like all dogs, Whippets can also experience separation problems. This can lead to anxiety and unwanted behavior when you’re away from home. Ultimately, managing separation in Whippets can be a challenge for many owners. Fortunately, there are techniques and practical advice to help alleviate this anxiety and enable your Whippet to cope better with solitude. We will therefore look at different strategies for managing separation anxiety in Whippets. For example, we will focus on preparation, training and creating a favorable environment for your dog.
Understanding separation anxiety in Whippets:
Separation anxiety is a canine behavior disorder that occurs when dogs are left home alone. Whippets can be susceptible to this condition. They often have a very close relationship with their owner and tend to bond closely with their family. Signs of separation anxiety in Whippets can include excessive vocalizations, destructiveness, inappropriate behavior such as chewing or scratching at doors, accidents in the house, and other unwanted behavior. A dog may even go so far as to self-harm by eating its paws, scratching, or pulling out its hair.
It is therefore important to understand that separation anxiety in Whippets is not a destructive or disobedient behavior. Rather, it is an anxious response to separation from its owner. It is essential to treat this condition with patience, understanding and appropriate techniques. This will help your Whippet cope better with loneliness and feel more secure when you are away.
Preparation before separation:
Good preparation before leaving your Whippet home alone can be a key step. It’s the best way to deal with separation anxiety. Here are a few tips to help you prepare your dog before you leave home:
- Establish a routine: Dogs, including Whippets, appreciate routine and predictability. Establish a daily routine for your Whippet. This should include set times for meals, toileting outings, walks and playtime. A well-established routine can help reduce your dog’s stress and anxiety.
- Familiarize your Whippet with solitude: Gradually accustom your Whippet to solitude. Start with short periods of absence and gradually increase them over time. Leave your Whippet alone in a secure room with toys, treats and water to help it gradually get used to being left alone.
- Ignore your Whippet on departure and arrival: Dogs are sensitive to their owner’s departure and arrival cues. That’s why your attitude is crucial. Don’t send out any signals to tell your Whippet when you’re getting ready to leave. Similarly, when you return home, ignore him. Never use little phrases like « I’ll be back soon » when you’re leaving. Or « Hello! » when you return. Even if you mean well, the effect on your Whippet is negative. It’s by making sure you stay calm, relaxed, and discreet that you’ll be able to manage your emotions better.
- Enrich your Whippet’s environment: Offer your Whippet a stimulating environment when he’s home alone. Provide interactive toys, dog puzzles, chew bones and other activities. Keep him mentally and physically occupied. You can also leave a radio on. Music can sometimes have a calming effect.
Training to cope with separation:
Training is key to helping your Whippet cope better with separation. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your dog’s separation anxiety:
Desensitization involves gradually exposing your Whippet to separation situations while rewarding him for calm, relaxed behavior. Start with short periods of absence. Gradually increase the duration over time. Reward your dog for positive behavior. Avoid punishing him for undesirable behavior.
Counter-conditioning involves associating a positive experience with a situation that was previously anxiety-provoking for your dog. For example, you could give your Whippet a special treat or toy reserved only for times when you’re away. This way, he’ll associate your absence with something positive.Counter-conditioning involves associating a positive experience with a situation that was previously anxiety-provoking for your dog. For example, you could give your Whippet a special treat or toy reserved only for times when you’re away. This way, he’ll associate your absence with something positive.
3. Basic obedience:
Teach your Whippet basic commands such as « stay », « sit » and « come ». This can boost his confidence and security. It can help him cope better with separation. In this way, basic obedience can also enable you to control your dog better in your absence, which can reduce his anxiety. See also my article: https://passion-whippet.com/whippet-education/.
Creating a favorable environment:
The environment in which your Whippet lives can also play a role in managing the separation. So here are a few tips for creating a positive environment for your dog:
1. Create a comfortable space:
Make sure your Whippet has a « cozy » area. He’ll be able to rest there and feel safe in your absence. Use a cozy bed, blankets, and toys to create a soothing environment for your dog.
2. Limit outside distractions:
Loud noises, outside movement and other distractions can increase your Whippet’s anxiety in your absence. Use curtains, blinds, or shutters to reduce visual and sound stimuli from outside.
3. Use calming aids:
There are several calming aids on the market, such as pheromone diffusers, soothing sprays and food supplements specially designed for anxious dogs. Look at natural treatments such as CBD, passionflower, chamomile, or valerian. Homeopathy can also give good results, with Phosphorus in particular. Consult your vet for appropriate recommendations for your Whippet.
4. Establish a routine:
Dogs, including Whippets, are creatures of routine. Establish daily routines for your dog, including mealtimes, walks, playtime, and relaxation time. This can help create a sense of stability and predictability for your dog. It can also help reduce separation anxiety.
5. Don’t punish unwanted behavior:
It’s very important not to punish your Whippet for unwanted behavior linked to separation anxiety, such as destroying property or barking excessively. Punishment can increase your dog’s stress and anxiety and make the problem worse. It’s best to understand that these behaviors are symptoms of anxiety. You need to work on desensitization and counter-conditioning to reduce them. When you get home, ignore him. Stay calm and send him to bed to calm his excitement. Clean up the mess, preferably away from him.
6. Seek professional help if necessary:
If you’re having trouble overcoming your Whippet’s separation anxiety despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to consult a dog behavior professional or veterinary behaviorist. They can give you advice specific to your situation. They will help you draw up a separation management plan tailored to your dog.
In a nutshell
The bottom line is that dealing with separation anxiety in Whippets can be a challenge. However, with patience, understanding and training, it is possible to help your dog manage this situation better. The key is to create a supportive environment, establish a routine, use appropriate training techniques, and show your Whippet patience and love. Don’t forget to consult a canine behavior professional or veterinary behaviorist if you need extra help to help your Whippet overcome separation anxiety. With the right amount of time and effort, your Whippet will be able to feel more comfortable and relaxed when you’re away. Then you’ll both be able to enjoy a fulfilling relationship in perfect harmony.
Does your Whippet suffer from separation anxiety, or has he ever suffered from it? How have you managed to deal with the situation? Tell me about it in a comment or use the « CONTACT » tab.
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A few more sources and references:
- “Treating separation anxiety » – RSPCA: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/behaviour/separationrelatedbehaviour/treatment
- “Cesar Explains How To Fix Separation Anxiety With Your Dog” – Cesar Millan: https://youtu.be/BmVSLqCh-RI
- “Separation anxiety” – ASPCA: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/separation-anxiety
- “Canine separation anxiety: strategies for treatment and management” – National Center for Biotechnology Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7521022/