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Dog Separation Anxiety

Dog Separation Anxiety

Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety Disorder: Now what?

Punishment will most likely only make the situation worse and increase the dog's anxieties. Fortunately, there are other methods and things you can do to assuage the problem.

  • Get another pet for your dog. Having a playmate around will be a welcome distraction, and hopefully keep your dog preoccupied while you are away.
  • Keep your TV or radio on. This gives your dog the idea that you are still home or are going to return shortly.
  • Take your dog to day care, or have a friend visit and walk your dog. If your dog is around other people, it won't feel as if it has been abandoned, and that you have left forever.
  • Try not to give attention to your dog before you leave or when you return home. It will make the situation less stressful for the both of you.
  • Try keeping your dog in the quietest part of the house, with the shades drawn. A darker environment has a calming effect on most dogs. Also, there are less distractions that may provoke your dog to act erratically.
  • Give your dog a really great toy with your scent on it that it only receives when you are gone.
  • Leave plenty of toys scattered around the house for your pet to play with in your absence. Provide new and different toys regularly.
  • Keep your dog well exercised. The more exercise, the more worn out he will be later, which doesn't leave much energy to exhibit anxious behaviors.
  • Get your dog used to your routine when you are getting ready to leave. Run through the actions, like picking up your keys, without really leaving.
  • Excessive Barking Your dog won't stop barking while you are away. Now its not only your property on the line, but you're annoying the entire neighborhood as well. Whether or not it is due to separation anxiety, there are things that you can do.

    Barking Set-ups: When you have tried all of the above for Separation Anxiety and you are still unsuccessful, you must desensitize the dog to your departures. Barking Set-ups take time, it is a slow and incremental process, but is a necessary part of the program. First you need to imitate your routine and run through all of the things you usually do before you leave. Then, you give your dog its special toy that it only receives when you are gone, while firmly commanding your dog to be quiet. Next, leave for a minute or two while making all the familiar noises. If the dog doesn't bark, praise him. If you do hear it begin to bark, quickly return and firmly tell him to be quiet. Don't wait for an undetermined amount of time and only go in to correct the dog for finally barking. Silence must be praised. Appropriate behavior must be acknowledged.

    Separation anxiety is one of the most common causes of canine behavioral problems, even in a dog that's been well adjusted its entire life. Dogs are social animals, so it is normal for puppies to develop attachments to their mother and littermates. A puppy becomes attached to its owner after it is separated from its family group. Attachment is a good trusting bond between owner and pet, however, when a dog becomes overly dependent on its owner, problem behaviors may result. It is important to remember that your pet is the victim of a disorder that can be treated, and not just trying to make your life miserable. When your dog does not understand where you or your family has gone or if you will ever return, the dog begins to exhibit various anxious behaviors that are classified as Separation Anxiety Disorder.

    Anxiety vs. Boredom: Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety Disorder?

    To figure out if your dog has Separation Anxiety Disorder or is just bored, you should first evaluate the behaviors of your dog. 1. Did your dog come from a shelter or a pound? 2. Has your dog been relocated various times or had previous owners? 3. Does your dog follow you around everywhere you go? 4. Does your dog act overexcited when you return home and prepare to leave? 5. Does your dog whine and bark while you are gone? 6. Has your dog's appetite decreased while you were gone? 7. Does you dog become destructive, and excessively dig, and chew only certain items while you are gone? 8. Does your dog become hyperactive, aggressive or depressed? 9. Does your dog develop digestive problems, and urinate and defecate excessively? 10. Does you dog become increasingly distressed as you are about to leave?

    Why Does Your Dog Have This Disorder?

    As with humans, traumatic events may bring on erratic changes in behavior, as well as the development of a strong attachment. Your dog may develop anxiety if it has had prior separation, (as it would from a shelter or pound), if it was separated early from its mother, if it has experienced an abrupt change in its environment, or if there has been a long term/ permanent absence of a family member. Also, if your dog is accustomed to being brought along everywhere you go, its anxieties when you do leave your dog alone may increase.

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