Does your husky cry the second you leave him? It’s possible he may have separation anxiety. This is an issue that many husky owners have to deal with and you’re not alone!
This article will explain separation anxiety in huskies and I’ll run through some ways you can start helping your husky today.
Please understand (as I will explain) that there is no magical cure. Fixing anxiety will require consistent action and dedication on your part. It will also come as a huge advantage if you’re able to understand the root cause. Let’s get into it.
1) What is Separation Anxiety in Huskies?
2) How Separation Anxiety Develops in Huskies
3) Are You Sure Your Husky Has Separation Anxiety?
4) Signs That Your Husky Has Separation Anxiety
5) Separation Training for Huskies
What is Separation Anxiety in Huskies: An Easy Explanation
Separation anxiety is generally understood as not being able to tolerate any amount of time alone without a particular person/s being present.
Usually, it’s one owner, but it can sometimes be both.
Huskies that have separation anxiety will display a range of undesirable behavior when that particular person leaves them. This can include whining, excessive howling, destructive behavior, urinating, trying to escape and it can even lead to depression.
How Separation Anxiety Develops in Huskies
It’s easy to understand what separation anxiety is, but knowing how it and why it developed is more challenging.
As separation anxiety is more commonly seen in dogs coming from animal shelters, it leads us to believe that it’s caused by a significant loss of one or multiple people from the dog’s life (abandonment)
If you rescued your husky this may be the sole reason. Unfortunately, dogs are not as intelligent as us, so when you leave the house, or even the room it’s possible that your husky thinks you’re leaving for good.
Other events that may also cause separation anxiety include:
- Change in environment.
This could be anything from moving homes to changes in your neighborhood. New noises, building work, a new neighbor are all legitimate reasons.
- Change in routine.
If your daily routine has changed, it can dramatically affect your husky too. If you leave or come home from work at a different time, that could be enough to set off your husky.
- Change in household family members.
If you have recently had a family member move-out or move-in to your home it could cause your husky to be anxious. Any type of anxiety can progress to separation anxiety quickly. This will also be the case with new spouses or if there has been a family member pass away.
- Health issues or side effects of medication.
In rare and unfortunate cases, your husky may be suffering from an underlying health issue, which is causing the separation anxiety. OR if your husky is already receiving on-going medication for a health problem, the medication may be having adverse side effects.
Are You Sure Your Husky Has Separation Anxiety?
Due to separation anxiety sharing many similar symptoms with other health issues, it’s easy to misdiagnose. That’s why it’s really important to take the time to think about the situation and speak to your veterinarian.
- Lack of training.
If you come home to your couch chewed up. It doesn’t necessarily mean your husky has done this due to being anxious. He may be very happy with him self destructing your couch for you. It could be due to house training difficulties or just a lack of training in general. How you can get your husky to stop chewing everything.
- Howling in response to external sounds.
Huskies love to howl, in fact they rarely ever bark. Howling is a strong instinctual behavior and can be triggered by various sounds your husky can hear miles away. If you live somewhere with many sirens or outside noises your husky may just be responding to them.
- Urinating with excitement
When you come back home and your husky is very excited to see you he might urinate on the floor. Although undesirable, it doesn’t necessarily indicate anxiety. Pure excitement can easily get the better of dogs. This is also the same for submissive displays upon arriving home.
- Urine marking.
Urine marking may also be the cause of urine all over your house. This is particularly seen from the males.
When dogs are bored they get up to all kinds of mischief, especially huskies who top the mischievousness charts. It’s vital that huskies receive a lot of mental stimulation with interactive toys and training sessions. Too much boredom is an issue in its self and needs to be resolved. It’s also possible that prolonged boredom will lead to anxiety.
- Health issues.
There are certain health problems that have similar symptoms. This is particularly true for uncontrolled urine. Urinary tract infections, kidney stones, diabetes, or bladder stones could be causing your husky to pee while you are away. It always best to rule out health issues first by having a check-up with your veterinarian.
As you can tell, these are all behaviors that you may witness upon seeing your husky again after having left him alone.
With separation anxiety, undesirable behavior may display itself in a matter of seconds.
Signs That Your Husky May Have Separation Anxiety
There’s a range of signs that you may be witnessing on a daily basis that indicates separation anxiety, and you just aren’t aware of them yet.
I won’t include what I’ve already spoken about above. Below are some less obvious signs that you may see throughout the day.
- Following the owners around the house constantly throughout the day.
- Your husky starts displaying erratic, nervous behavior when you grab your keys, put on your shoes or coat, anything you routinely do before leaving the house.
- Panting, drooling, or howling may start to happen as you’re getting ready to leave the house.
- Refusing to drink or eat when left alone.
- Your husky exhibits “self-destructive” behavior like biting or chewing his own tail, legs, or paws.
Reducing Separation Anxiety in Huskies
The good news is that with time and the right methods you can beat separation anxiety, and even severe cases can be solved. But it will take time. There’s nothing that will work instantaneously (other than not leaving your husky alone!)
1. Learn the triggers and train against them
An interesting point brought up by my friend was how her husky started getting nervous when he knew she was about to leave. He has associated the sound of her keys with her leaving. This was a trigger. And this “trigger” for the anxiety ended being an issue just as much as being alone was.
It’s likely that your husky has understood your own routine so think about how this could apply to you. Putting on your jacket, shoes, locking the back door. Any of these events could be a trigger.
It’s now important to train against the triggers. This is fairly simple, but it’s important to do it consistently.
If it’s your keys, start picking up your keys and putting them down again. Or pick them up and put them in your pocket, sit down to watch Tv, or make a fuss of your husky. Start teaching your husky that these triggers do not always mean you’re about to leave.
2. Desensitizing your husky to your absence (room training)
So like I just mentioned the first step is to desensitize your husky to the initial triggers like picking up your keys, but there’s more you can do.
Room training may not work for huskies with severe separation anxiety, but for mild cases, it’s worth implementing.
Room training is the start of desensitizing your husky to your absence. You do this by gradually increasing the time your husky stays separated from you in a different room.
Whenever you leave your husky in one room while you go to the next, make it short and come back to the room before your husky has the urge to come and check on you. Gradually increase the time you’re away but always come back before he comes to you. The goal is to expose your husky to your absence frequently in short doses until he can withstand longer periods. I recommend carrying out this simple exercise multiple times per day, for many weeks.
An advanced version of this would be to leave the house briefly, or go into your yard but keep your husky inside. Start by making it very short, and come back inside to greet your husky again.
The goal of all of this is to gradually desensitize your husky to your absence.
This brings me on to the next tip!
3. Play a recording of your voice on loop while you’re out
This sounds strange, I know. But bare with me, the results are surprising.
I recently read a helpful article from a husky owner that explained how her husky would not display any negative reactions if she thought her owner was still inside the house. If she knew her owner wasn’t in, all hell would break loose.
The owner discovered this after needing to take a call in a separate room, she kept her husky outside of the room while she was on the phone. Expecting to come out to a path of destruction from her absence, her husky was in fact calming sleeping by the door.
Her husky could hear and smell her owner, and it didn’t matter that she couldn’t see her. So having realized this, a simple yet clever experiment was conducted.
The next time the owner needed to leave the house, a tape player was left playing on repeat a pre-recorded series of generic rambling the owner had recorded of herself, earlier that day. She placed the tape player in the same room as she had her phone call and placed an old un-washed t-shirt down by the foot of the door. Her husky could now hear and smell her while she was actually gone.
Yes, it worked! And in fact, it carried on working. So this is certainly worth trying with your husky too.
Update* I’ve since had two friends try this. For one it worked, and for the other, her husky destroyed the door trying to get inside. I still recommend trying this method but understand it may not work for everyone.
4. Other considerations to help reduce separation anxiety
- Ensure your husky receives plenty of intensive exercise every day. A tired husky is a calmer husky.
- Undergo crate training and keep your husky inside a crate when you leave (maximum of a few hours).
- Get a quality interactive toy for your husky to play with while you are gone.
- Leave the TV or Radio on for background noise.
- Try keeping your husky in a room away from outside noises and smells.
- Try using calming scents in your home. Vanilla, valerian, coconut, and ginger scents have now been found to calm and relax dogs. Source.
- Visit your veterinarian for extra help.
Separation anxiety can be a monster to tackle, and I know just how hard it is to deal with first hand. Cases can be mild to severe and this will affect how long it takes to resolve.
Always try your best to find out why the separation anxiety developed in the first place and you’ll know where to focus your efforts to improve your situation most effectively.
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The advice given in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute pet medical advice. Before making any decisions that may affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area.