Dealing with Dogs and Separation Anxiety

Did you know that some of the more frustrating traits and “bad” behaviors your dog is exhibiting may be as a result of separation anxiety?

Why does my dog suffer from separation anxiety?

Some breeds are simply more “nervous” or sensitive to their environment and prone to this trait.  For other dogs it may be as a result of a being left alone quite a bit, after a traumatic event, a distinct change in location or routine (like a move, marriage or a new baby in the house).  Maybe your dog has recently spent a great deal of time in a kennel or shelter and they are more dependent on having you around them for them to be happy.

What are some behaviors your dog may exhibit with separation anxiety?

  • May urinate or defecate on the floor, furniture and in my mother in laws case her poodle would pee on her pillow.
  • Constant whining, howling or barking.
  • Overly exciting upon your return.
  • Anxiety or fear when you leave.
  • Destructive behaviors, such as scratching, chewing, tearing or destroying household items or chewing and gnawing on their own body.
  • Self-inflicted injuries.
  • Some dogs may even growl at you when you leave or return or refuse to leave your side.

How can we deal with separation anxiety and the behaviors?

If your dog growls he or she is saying, “I’m tense, upset, frightened and unsure” of a situation.  Would you encourage anyone else to approach your dog then?  No, so you need to do the same thing.  Give your dog time to adjust to either your return home or your departure before touching them.  Simply great them and wait for them to become calm before showering them with affection or treats.

Provide your dog with one of these items:

  • An article of your clothing or a blanket of yours that they can have as their own, keeping your scent with them during the day.
  • Leave a radio or TV playing (or even a soothing sound system) when you leave so they don’t feel quite so alone.
  • Provide your pet with a favorite toy that they can carry with them, much as a child does when they feel separation anxiety.  The Kong Toy can be a toy, soother, entertainer and treat-er.

Training your dog to deal with separation anxiety

Practice leaving your dog alone for a few minutes at a time. Gather your items, leave the house and return.  Each time to do a “practice run” extend the period of time that you are gone until our pet becomes more comfortable with departures and arrivals.

Change your departure routine.

Provide more exercise.

Can you get your dog a “buddy?”  Is there room for two dogs in your heart and your household?

Hire someone to check in on your pet during the day.  Maybe a high school student would want to pick up some extra cash by walking your pet or letting him out for a few minutes, cutting down on the length of time that he is home alone.

If the situation is extreme you may want to look for a pet sitter or doggy day care. Maybe there is even a friend or neighbor who would like the company of your dog during the day while they are home alone.

Be patient and never punish your dog for the anxiety.  However a stern voice to reprimand certain behaviors may be in order.

Discuss your concerns with your veterinarian, especially if the tips and suggestions recommended do not alleviate your pet’s separation anxiety.  Your vet may be able to recommend additional behavior modification, training or even medication for your dog.

The behaviors of separation anxiety, if left unattended are often those that cause dogs to be abandoned and euthanized. It has been reported to be the second most reason for euthanasia of dogs.    Recognize your dog’s behaviors for what they are and try to help them master their fears.

Kong Blue Dog Toy Kong Blue Dog Toy

Kong Dog Toy – Blue, Small For typical chewers. Kong?s exclusive, super-bouncy, blue, natural rubber compound is irresistible for most dogs. Five chewer-friendly sizes are available to satisfy dogs with typical chewing temperaments. Take this Kong and stuff it with treats.

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