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Dog Separation Anxiety

One of the most difficult behavior problems to address in dogs is separation anxiety. Symptoms include: digging and scratching at doors and windows, destructive chewing, barking, howling whining, and even urination and defecation from an otherwise house trained pet. Of course, many of these activities could just be the result of bad manners. But if the misbehaving happens when your dog is left alone even for just a short while, then your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety. Other signs to watch for include:

Your dog follows you constantly whenever you are home.

Your dog’s greetings are frantic, excessive and way over the top.

Your dog becomes anxious and depressed just watching you getting ready to leave.

There are a variety of situations that can trigger separation anxiety in dogs. If the dog has never been alone before. The dog has suffered a traumatic event such as being held in a shelter. Loss of a family member, another pet, or a change in the regular routine. Remember, even though the resulting behaviors of separation anxiety can be frustrating and in some cases expensive, do not punish your dog for the damage. Your dog will not understand why they are being punished and it could make the problem worse.

Treating Separation Anxiety

If you believe separation anxiety is to blame for your dog’s behavior issues, then there are many steps you can take to help your dog cope. First, avoid acting overly excited when you first get home. Your dog will already be anxiously anticipating your return. If you make your arrival a big deal then it only makes the anticipation anxiety worse. Instead of feeding into your dog’s anxiety with an excited homecoming, ignore your dog upon coming home and wait about ten minutes before giving your dog some calm affection. Over time this will do a lot to diminish your dog’s anxiety.

Before leaving, take your dog for a walk. The exercise helps burn off excess energy and will give your dog an opportunity to go potty before being left alone. A good walking program may help curb the separation anxiety problem all by itself, but keep reading, because I have a lot more advice to share.

Another way to help your dog cope in your absence is to give him something to do. Keeping your dog busy while you are gone just might save those slippers. Offer challenging, but tasty treats. I recommend either the Everlasting Treat Ball or a frozen Kong stuffed with biscuits, Liver Biscotti, and organic peanut butter. Yum!

Another way to comfort your dog is to leave your scent behind. A blanket or just any old t-shirt that you’ve slept in will work great. Your dog is anxious, because he’s missing you. Having some dirty laundry available ensures your scent will remain even while your away.

When you’re home teach the sit, down and stay commands to your pet. When your pet knows these basic obedience commands, begin training your dog to stay in one room while you go to another. Along with being valuable training, this will help to teach your dog that they can be calm even when you’re not present.

Also start associating a phrase or word with leaving. Tell your dog, “I’ll be back.” Then mean it. This safety cue will eventually train your dog not to worry, because you’ve promised to return.

If your dog is a puppy. Then he has gone from a loving puppy mound of motherly care to solely you. When you leave, your puppy feels alone and vulnerable. To ease your puppy’s transition, limit him to just one room (preferably one with a window). Like with the t-shirt above, if you know the person whom you got the puppy from get an old blanket and rub it on the mother dog. This way you’ll have the mother’s scent. If you don’t have access to the mother dog. Then you can use your own scent. The Bear Hug is a stuff animal with a built in heartbeat. This product works great to sooth nervous puppies!

In more severe cases of separation anxiety you may need to combine the above techniques with creating a safe place. Choose a room with a window and plenty of distractions. Put in a few of those busy toys: such as the Everlasting Treat Ball or the Kong mentioned above to distract your pet. Also give him that smelly t-shirt mentioned above, or any other dirty laundry to help your pet relax with your scent.

Combined with the above recommendations, you may also consider using Pet Calm. It’s an all natural calming product you apply to food or treats. It contains herbs, which help sooth and calm your dog whenever anything distressing happens.

Be Patient

It may take a while to address separation anxiety in your pet. You may even need to seek counseling from a professional animal-behavior specialist. But in the meantime, you can reduce your dog’s anxiety and some of your frustration by taking your dog with you when you leave. If you can’t bring your pet with you. Then consider leaving your pet with a family member, friend, neighbor, or dog day care facility. If you’re diligent, eventually you’ll be able to leave your dog home alone, but until you’ve resolved your dog’s separation anxiety it will help your pet to avoid any undue stress.

Remember your dog is behaving badly because he/she is missing you. Punishing your pet will not correct these behaviors. Neither will getting another dog, crating, leaving on the radio or TV to create noise, or strict obedience training. The only way your dog will stop being anxious is when he/she learns that you will always return and that it’s okay to be alone.

Source: Internet

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