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Signs your dog is co-dependent and how to help him

 by james on 18 May 2022 |
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Dogs love to be around their humans, but can become overly reliant in some cases. Here’s how to recognize signs of a codependent pet.

Signs your dog is co-dependent and how to help him


It may seem cute when your dog follows you around the house, but being too dependent on his own can cause damage to your pup’s wellbeing. Just like in people, codependency is a true problem for some dogs that leads to anxiety and destructive behaviors when you’re not able to be around.

Codependency exists when someone—including a pet— becomes overly reliant on another for his existence or identity. A dog that is codependent will not feel comfortable when left without his beloved owner for even a short amount of time, leading to signs such as barking or crying; pacing; chewing or otherwise damaging furniture or the house; using the bathroom on the floor; and even running away. These symptoms of distress indicate a pet is truly not comfortable when you are not around, leading to anxiety and a lowered quality of life. Fortunately for pets experiencing these symptoms, you can take steps to address separation anxiety as soon as you recognize it in your pet.
 
To help Fido feel more confident while you are not around, it is important to first take him to the veterinarian for a check-up that rules out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing his attention-seeking behavior. Once medical reasons are off the table, you can begin helping your pet adjust to time without you by gradually making short, frequent trips away from home—such as to the grocery store or bank. Do not make saying goodbye or greeting your pet a big ordeal, as dogs follow our cues and can take dramatic reunions and departures as a sign that leaving is a significant event. Instead, remain calm and depart quietly to show him this is a normal event and no cause for concern.

You can also help a clingy canine overcome his fear of being left alone by stimulating his body and mind with regular exercise, playtime and interactive toys. This helps release pent-up energy while you are home and distract him from his worries while you are away. This should cut down on the energy he has to engage in destructive behaviors while you are away, and will help keep his mind on with positive playtime rather than his anxiety. If your pet has internalized certain actions, such as reaching for your keys, as a signal to start worrying, help desensitize him to these behaviors by carrying your keys around the house when you do not intend to leave, for example. If your pet is experiencing extreme separation anxiety, talk to an animal behaviorist about training and behavior modifications that can help your pet learn to manage his anxiety in your absence. Repetition is key in helping your pet feel relaxed, so practice patience while you are helping him overcome codependent behaviors and mindset. Your companion’s wellbeing and the bond you share will be well worth the effort.

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