Dog Separation Anxiety

Pet owners who own a dog with separation anxiety can attest to the fact that the simple act of leaving the house becomes a stressful, painful time for both dog and owner.   There are many myths surrounding dog separation anxiety, but it is vitally important for owners to be able to separate the myths from the facts. 

First, here is a list of ways to tell if your dog actually has dog seperation anxiety.

  • The bad behavior (such as urinating in the house) only happens when the dog is left alone.
  • The dog follows you around the house, and doesn’t like to let you out of his sight.
  • The dog’s behavior changes in any way as you are getting ready to leave.

If your dog displays any of the above symptoms, he may be suffering from dog separation anxiety. Here are some of the common myths about the problem.

My dog is punishing me for leaving him alone by destroying items in the house.

While those pets who suffer from dog separation anxiety certainly do destroy items, it is not as a way of punishing their owners.  Instead, this behavior is a result of the extreme amount of stress the dog feels when left alone. 

Crating the dog will help the situation.

Sure, crating the dog will stop him from chewing on the furniture, but it will not help the anxiety problem at all.  In fact, crating a dog with this condition can be dangerous as some dogs have actually injured themselves in an attempt to break free from the crate. 

Punishing the dog can break his dog separation anxiety.

Actually, the opposite is true.  Your dog is already suffering and anxious when you leave.  Imagine now if every time you come back home he is greeted with yelling, hitting or some other form of punishment.  Remember, your dog is not doing anything to be bad.  He is acting that way because of a feeling of panic.

So how do you treat dog separation anxiety?  The answer depends on the severity of the condition.  If it is a mild form, you may be able to use some simple methods to decrease the anxiety.  For example, don’t make a big production out of greeting your dog when you come home.  Just ignore him for a few minutes, and then calmly pet him.  Some have found that leaving something with your scent on it can bring a great deal of comfort to a pet with mild seperation anxiety.

 If it a more severe form of dog seperation anxiety  you will have to either seek help from a professional or try what The Humane Society calls “desensitization techniques”.   You will need to use methods to show your dog that he can remain calm when left alone.  Your vet can guide you in how to implement these techniques.

It is not an overnight fix, and if the dog’s seperation anxiety is severe, you may consider making special arrangements for your dog such as putting him in doggy day care or leaving him with a friend who is home while you’re at work.

Remember, dog separation anxiety is not the same as bad behavior.  Your dog is suffering, and it’s up to you to find a treatment that works.

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