How to Deal with Dog Separation Anxiety

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How to Deal with Dog Separation Anxiety

by Navy T

A dog suffering from separation anxiety can cause many problems for you, your dog, and your neighbors. These dogs love their owners and they hate being away from them. You probably give your dog all the love that you can, but when you are away they become little destroyers who chew your shoes, urinate on your furniture, and bark for hours. Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to this behavior. If you are looking into getting a dog and you know that you are frequently gone, you will want to avoid breeds that have dependency problems. Many dogs that were not weaned properly will also develop a dependency on humans at an early age.

There are various symptoms of separation anxiety and it is important to note that most of these actions occur as soon as you leave your house in the mornings. Symptoms of separation anxiety include:

? Scratching at doors and windows (your doors will look like they tried dig through them)
? Urinating on the carpet and furniture
? Chewing and destroying furniture, clothes, shoes, bedding, etc.
? Excessive barking, whining and howling
? Chewing or excessively licking themselves
? Follows you throughout your house and demands constant attention

If your dog only exhibits these behaviors while you are gone, the dog is most likely suffering from separation anxiety. Most dogs will act fine when you are with them. They will generally only be destructive for the first thirty minutes you are gone, but may continue to howl, bark, and whine all day long. These dogs will not benefit from punishment, as they are suffering from an anxiety disorder and not intentional bad behavior. They will not be able to associate punishment with their acts, as it may have been hours since they were being destructive.

Your veterinarian may be able to direct you in how to deal with dog separation anxiety. Many dogs with severe cases may require anxiety medication. They will also require behavior modification training. The combination of medication and training is the best. Behavior modification training will teach you how to react to your dog and his problems, as well.

In changing your dog?s behavior, you will first want to avoid making a big deal about leaving and coming home. Many dogs are able to recognize when their owners are leaving and their anxiety will begin to build. Avoid saying anything to your dog as you leave and come back home. Try to ignore them for as long as possible when you come home. This will help make your arrival and departures low-key events with minimal excitement. Try to find what triggers your dog?s behavior. Notice your dog?s reactions to you picking up your keys, purse, and briefcase. After determining what sets your dog off, repeat those actions without leaving your house, as this will help to desensitize your dog.

Be sure that your dog is receiving plenty of exercise to reduce his amount of energy. Start by gradually leaving your dog for short periods of time and then extend those time limits gradually. You may also want to give your dog toys that hold treats so that he will be busy for hours. You can give these to him as you walk out the door in the mornings. Crating your dog does not generally help, as they spend their time trying to escape and destroying their crates. You may also choose to leave a radio or television on, as the noise helps to calm these dogs. The process is a long adjustment period but, with work, your dog will become less dependent on you and less stressed.

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