A very common challenge of dog owners is that their dog suffers from separation anxiety. The symptoms can vary from mild (a few minor signs of damage to objects, urination, barking) to severe (total destruction of home). Separation anxiety may result in pet parents feeling sadness, anger, frustration and hopelessness. And, if very severe, the behavior can be dangerous to the dog (chewing/scratching resulting in escape from enclosure or getting stuck or hurt by exposed materials). So, separation anxiety is a serious issue to be handled as quickly as possible. In this post, we’ll address mild-to-moderate symptoms of separation anxiety.
The causes of separation anxiety are varied, but, can be due to stress. This stress may be brought-on by moving, a change in guardian, addition of a new pet or baby, change of schedule/routine, etc. There might also be an underlying medical issue at the root of the problem.
Here are some modalities you might try:
Firstly, take your dog for an exam, to rule-out any physical reasons for the behavior.
BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION FOR MODERATE SYMPTOMS:
This method may work if your dog cries/barks when you leave, but, otherwise doesn’t show too many destructive signs. Your dog may be redirected and trained to learn that your leaving is associated with a good thing. Do so by giving your dog a treat puzzle, as you leave. This might be a Kong stuffed with frozen treats or small, loose treats. Click here for some delicious Kong treat ideas! There are many different sizes and styles of dog treat puzzle games. Here are a few listed on Chewy.com Giving your dog a treat puzzle helps in three ways: 1) it gives a delicious treat and 2) occupies your dog for 20-30 minutes to alleviate boredom and 3) distracts your dog from your leaving. Be sure to remove the puzzle when you return home. This will ensure that this puzzle is a special thing to be enjoyed only when you leave the house.
In addition, you might want to hire a dog walker to come for a visit, while you’re gone. This can be a great help in many ways: 1) break-up a long, boring day, 2) provide extra exercise to burn-off energy, 3) give mental and social stimulation, etc. If you live in Durham, call on us to help!
HIRE A DOG TRAINER:
If you still have issues with your dog’s separation anxiety, you might want to consider hiring a professional dog trainer. This person can give you more extensive tools to help minimize or eliminate the unwanted behavior.