A dog with separation anxiety can show multiple different types of behavioral problems when they are left alone. Typically, they will have a dramatic anxiety response within a short time after their owners leave them.
The most common behaviors linked to separation anxiety are; digging, chewing, scratching, whining or howling, or even inappropriate urination or defecation.
Listed are a few of the most common reasons a dog may have separation anxiety.
- Separation anxiety can occur if a dog has never been, or is rarely left alone.
- The behaviors linked to separation anxiety can surface after a long interval of separated time such as vacation or a family member leaving for school or moving away.
- Linked behaviors to separation anxiety may be noticed after a traumatic event such as time spent at a shelter or kennel, losing another family pet, or being with a new owner.
- Changes in the dog’s routine can also contribute to separation anxiety such as new job hours or even moving of furniture.
How Do You Know?
Due to the fact that there are so many reasons for the behaviors associated with separation anxiety, it is important to diagnose the reason before proceeding with treatment. If most of these statements are true, your dog may have a separation anxiety problem.
- The behavior problem occurs primarily when the dog is alone.
- The dog follows you from room to room and is not comfortable with you out of their site.
- The dog greets you with excessive and frantic behavior when you return.
- Your dog reacts to your preparation to leave the home with anxiety. Often times whining, pacing, or panting.
What To Do
For minor separation anxiety problems, simple techniques listed below may help.
- Keep arrivals low-key (no high pitch voices or bending to their level).
- Only praise after the dog has calmed down.
- Make departures seem like a good thing for the dog. They get new treats or chews when you leave so it becomes a good affiliation for them.
- Leaving your dog with a chew toy can occupy them while you are gone to help make the time you are gone seem less of a challenge for them.
- Leaving an article of clothing that smells like you can help lessen the intensity of the negative behaviors as this can provide comfort to the dog.
Need More Help?
Major separation anxiety behaviors can result in multiple issues including damaged furniture, self-mutilation, and complaints from neighbors from excessive barking. Should you have more intense behaviors resulting from separation anxiety, All Stage Canine Development can work with you individually to develop a plan to address your concerns. Most often, the anxiety and its matching behaviors can be eliminated through many different levels of desensitizing and habituation. This process is not easy since you are dealing with the actual fear or uncertainty so it can be a slow process. The pace is set by your dog and cannot go any quicker as pushing them can cause a relapse and can even intensify the current issues. Obedience training and behavior modification can help you with many behavioral issues or concerns. Should you have any questions or would like more information on training, please contact All Stage Canine Development.