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What to Do For a Dog with Separation Anxiety

Sep 17, 2008
Just like people, dogs have separation anxiety. As for what causes it, there are many. As a result, the dog and the owner can have quite the difficult experience. Overcoming the separation anxiety can be work, but it pays off for both the dog and the owner in the end because it is healthier and makes the overall environment more bearable.

However, you have to determine that what your dog is suffering from is really separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can mimic a number of other issues. Just because your dog may chew things, tear things up, and have accidents in your house when you're gone, that doesn't mean your dog has separation anxiety. These are non-anxiety issues that need to be addressed. Excessive barking does not indicate separation anxiety because barking can sometimes mean the dog is just bored. Sometimes the way to remedy this is by incorporating more exercise.

The sure fire sign of separation anxiety

The number one way to determine if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety is to look at your dog when you're leaving. If your dog seems nervous as you leave, that is the anxiety kicking in. These nervous symptoms include pacing, trembling, a wild look in their eye, and panting. After you leave, there are things that are going on that you don't know about. Your neighbors may know more about what your dog is doing than what you do because they may hear your dog bark and howl continuously. A dog without separation anxiety will whine, bark, and howl for about five to ten minutes. A dog with separation anxiety will do these things for hours on end.

When a dog has separation anxiety, he or she may try to hurt themselves by trying to jump out windows, get out of their crate, etc. Their entire focus is on areas in which you can exit the house because they want to find you.

The treatment

How fast treatment works depends on the severity of the separation anxiety. If you can figure out how to calm down the reaction, then you can start to deal with the problem itself. If the dog is whining before you leave, try to calm that instead of standing there and worrying. It is hard to know what to do, but try to calm it.

You can also talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medication. In addition to the medication, you can work on training. Counter conditioning is commonly used in combination with medication because counter conditioning takes the negative experience and turns it into a positive one. For example: Simply putting on your shoes may make your dog nervous. However, do something positive. Give the dog a treat when you put on your shoes, it's ideal for puppy training as well.

The most effective way of treatment is prevention. This usually starts with crate training and spending time away while in the crate. Each time you leave you can leave them with a treat so that the experience is a positive one from the beginning. Even if you're always home with your dog, make arrangements to leave and leave them with a treat because you never know what's going to happen in the future that is going to take you away.

Another effective way to help a dog with separation anxiety is to know that it isn't your fault. Abuse before you owned the dog, being left alone a lot as a puppy, a naturally nervous personality, not being socialized, and simple moving to a new home can be triggers. By not feeling guilty, you can initiate the most effective treatment possible for your puppy training.
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