Separation anxiety in dogs often goes unrecognized. Owners see that their dog has chewed the furniture in their absence, pooped in the living room, or torn a pillow apart. What they might not realize, however, is that such bad behavior is a result of separation anxiety.
Though more common in puppies, separation anxiety can occur in dogs of all ages and its causes are simple. Separation anxiety in dogs occurs because dogs look up to their owners for guidance. If a dog hears noises outside and his owner is not there to offer guidance, the dog is likely to start feeling separation anxiety. If he then feels hungry, his anxiety will increase. If he feels too anxious to go out by the doggie door, he might pee or poop in the house and once more his separation anxiety will increase. Dog owners may not realize it, but when they are home their dog will come to them repeatedly for reassurance. But when owners are out, that’s when separation anxiety in dogs strikes.
But just as we have learned to outgrow our childhood fears, so separation anxiety in dogs can be cured with a little training and love. The idea is to replicate the situation which will set off separation anxiety in your dog. Put on your coat and shoes. Pick up your keys. Do the sort of things you would normally do before leaving the house-but do not leave. Separation anxiety will begin in your dog. He will follow you everywhere. But instead of leaving the house, sit down, then take your shoes and coat off and go back to your normal occupations.
Separation anxiety in dogs can be gradually prevented when the dog ceases to expect a long separation each time his owner seems ready to leave. To further enhance your dog’s confusion, go out for a few minutes only, then return. Separation anxiety in your dog will have no time to begin before the separation is over.
You can further reduce separation anxiety in dogs by creating a soothing environment where the dog remains. Put on massage or soft classical music. Leave your dog’s favorite bed in a well lit area, where the dog can feel safe. Place toys there, as well as a chew stick to stop the destructive behavior that typically accompanies separation anxiety.
Finally, try to diminish the chances of destructive behavior. If separation anxiety in your dog manifests itself when he chews the blinds, simply raise the blinds. If your dog chews the edge of the carpet, cover the edge with his bed. Whatever you do to diminish temptations, will help your dog deal with his separation anxiety in a less destructive manner. And if you feel that your loving training is not enough, consult with your vet regarding separation anxiety medication that can be given alongside training, with a high rate of success.
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