- digging and scratching at doors and windows
- destructive chewing
- Barking, howling, whining
- Urination and defecation from an otherwise house trained pet.
Of course, many of these activities could just be the result of bad manners. But if the misbehaving happens when your dog is left alone even for just a short while, then your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety. Other signs to watch for include:
Your dog follows you constantly when you are home.
Your dog’s greetings are frantic, excessive and way over the top.
Your dog becomes anxious and depressed just watching you getting ready to leave.
There are a variety of situations that can trigger separation anxiety in dogs. If the dog has never been alone before. The dog has suffered a traumatic event such as being held in a shelter. Loss of a family member, another pet, or a change in the regular routine. Remember, even though the resulting behaviors of separation anxiety is frustrating and in some cases expensive, do not punish your dog for the damage. Your dog will not understand the reason for the punishment and it could make the problem worse.
Treating Dog Separation Anxiety
If you believe separation anxiety is to blame for your dog’s behavior issues, then there are many steps you can take to help your dog cope. First, avoid acting overly excited when you first get home. Your dog will already be anxiously anticipating your return. If you make your arrival a big deal then it only enhances the dog’s anticipation of your return which causes greater anxiety. Instead of feeding into your dog’s anxiety with an excited homecoming, ignore your dog upon coming home and wait about ten minutes before giving your dog some calm affection. Over time this will do a lot to diminish your dog’s anxiety.
Before leaving, take your dog for a walk. The exercise helps burn off excess energy and will give your dog an opportunity to go potty before being left alone. A good walking program may help curb the separation anxiety problem all by itself, but keep reading, because I have a lot more advice to share.
Another way to help your dog cope in your absence is to give him something to do. Keeping your dog busy while you are gone just might save those slippers. Offer challenging, but tasty treats, I recommend either the Everlasting Treat Ball or a frozen Kong stuffed with biscuits, <, and organic peanut butter. Yum!
Another way to comfort your dog is to leave your scent behind. A blanket or just any old t-shirt that you’ve slept in will work great. Your dog is anxious, because he’s missing you. Having some dirty laundry available ensures your scent will remain even while your away.
When you’re home teach the sit, down and stay commands to your pet. When your pet knows these basic obedience commands, begin training your dog to stay in one room while you go to another. Along with being valuable training, this will help to teach your dog to stay calm even when you’re not present.
Also start associating a phrase or word with leaving. Tell your dog, “I’ll be back.” Then mean it. This safety cue will eventually train your dog not to worry, because you’ve promised to return.
If your dog is a puppy. Then he has gone from a loving puppy mound of motherly care to solely you. When you leave, your puppy feels alone and vulnerable. To ease your puppy’s transition, limit him to just one room. Like with the t-shirt above, if you know the person whom you got the puppy from get an old blanket and rub it on the mother dog. This way you’ll have the mother’s scent. If you don’t have access to the mother dog. Then you can use your own scent.
In more severe cases of dog separation anxiety you may need to combine the above techniques with creating a safe place. Choose a room with a window and plenty of distractions. Put in a few of those busy toys: such as the Everlasting Treat Ball mentioned above to distract your pet. Also give him that smelly t-shirt mentioned above, or any other dirty laundry to help your pet relax with your scent.
Combined with the above recommendations, you may also consider using Pet Calm. It’s an all natural calming product you apply to food or treats. It has herbs, which help sooth and calm your dog when anything distressing happens.
It may take a while to correct separation anxiety in your pet. You may even need to seek counseling from a professional animal-behavior specialist. But in the meantime, you can cut your dog’s anxiety and some of your frustration by taking your dog with you when you leave. If you can’t bring your pet with you. Then consider leaving your pet with a family member, friend, neighbor, or dog day care facility. If you’re diligent, eventually you’ll be able to leave your dog home alone, but until you’ve resolved your dog’s separation anxiety it will help your pet to avoid any undue stress.
Remember your dog is behaving badly because he/she is missing you. Punishing your pet will not correct these behaviors. Neither will getting another dog, crating, leaving on the radio or TV to create noise, or strict obedience training. The only way your dog will stop being anxious is when he/she learns that you will always return and that being alone is okay.
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