The Bad News
Separation anxiety in dogs is the of the most common reasons for dog owners to find professional help due to a behaviour problem. The symptoms include but are not limited to destructive behaviour. Especially during the owner’s absence. Urination and defecation in the house. Showing extreme attachment to the owner to the point of never wanting to leave his side.
An over zealous greeting when you return is always a sign something could be amiss. Many affected dogs also refuse to eat while the owner is gone. They carry around the treat that was given to them before the owner left, only to eat it when he or she returns.
The Good News About Separation anxiety
The good news is that separation anxiety in dogs is very treatable and has a high success rate if handled properly. If you are dealing with this problem for the first time please seek the help of a capable vet or dog behaviorist.
The treatment consists of desensitization training for the dog and a new educated approach for the owner.
Most often than not dog owners unintentionally worsen the problem by reinforcing the dog’s anxiety, especially just before they are ready to leave their pet alone at home.
People quite often baby their dog before leaving. This is usually because of the obvious distress in their puppy’s eyes. Add some extensive petting and stroking and hugging. Their dog then is convinced that something scary and awful is about to happen. Don’t forget, dogs are amazing animals who pick up on their owner’s feeling and vibes.
So the more of a dramatic departure you go through, you unknowingly encourage your dog to became anxious and stressed.
Retraining For Separation anxiety
Part of the retraining will be ignoring your dog for a minimum of around 20 minutes before you leave and also for 20 minutes or so after you come back home. No I have missed you style greeting anymore!
This will teach your dog that leaving and returning is nothing to get excited about, it’s just part of the daily routine. Another important step in retraining your dog is to rebuild his self confidence.
Many dogs who suffer from separation anxiety follow their beloved owners around the house like a shadow. They curl up at their feet when watching TV, and are and always seeking their attention.
Most owners see this as a compliment and happily provide the love and constant attention, again rewarding and reinforcing the dog’s anxiety. This can lead some dogs to become too attached to their owner, and if that person has to leave them even for a short time they begin to panic.
This was when Saber is one year old. I had just gone to the shop which is only two minutes away. This started within 30 seconds of me leaving the house.
You should slowly encourage your dog not to cling to you at all times. Down-stay exercises are helpful Also frequent pretend departures for just a minute or so during the day. These will eventually get your dog to realise that being alone for a while is not so bad after all.
Also, get him used to the little departure clues like shutting the windows and picking up the keys etc. Ignore the pitiful look in his face. You will be doing your dog a big favour even though he may not be convinced.
Medication could be the way forward
Again, if you are dealing with a frustrating problem like separation anxiety please get advice from a professional.
Your veterinarian may even consider medicating your dog temporarily to help through the toughest time. I also encourage reading some of the many excellent dog behavior books available, for example “The Dog Who Loved Too Much” by Nicholas Dodman or “The Dog’s Mind” by Bruce Fogle.
Give your dog plenty of time to overcome his fears, it takes them a while to work out a disorder like this. It is a time-consuming process which takes a lot of patience and effort, but the results are definitely worth your while.
had trouble with separartion anxiety in your dog? comment below