04 Feb How to Deal with Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety, which is an overwhelming fear of separation from their owners. This type of distress can lead to major issues, from indoor urination and incessant barking to major destruction of household objects. Why does it happen, and how can you help resolve your dog’s separation anxiety?
The Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
While there’s no solid scientific determination regarding the causes of separation anxiety in dogs, it’s believed that traumatic or dramatic situations can trigger the disorder. Changing families, especially if due to abandonment, is a huge cause of separation anxiety. Even if dogs stay in the same family from an early age, simple things like changing schedules, moving to a new home, or gaining or losing a household member can instigate the growth of separation anxiety.
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety
Dogs obviously can’t use their words to communicate their fears, so they lash out in other ways to try to get your attention and demonstrate their feelings. Many of these actions can be misinterpreted as poor house manners or standard misbehavior, but they are indeed a call for help.
Urination and defecation in the house are common issues when dogs with separation anxiety are left along. Similarly, barking and howling as direct results of being left alone are clear signs of separation anxiety. Dogs may also chew, dig, and try to escape when coping with separation anxiety.
How to Resolve Separation Anxiety
While the side effects of your dog’s separation anxiety are no doubt concerning and frustrating, there are solutions available. Counterconditioning, a treatment process that changes an animal’s fearful reaction to a relaxed one, is the best first option. You can achieve counterconditioning by associating the sight of a feared place or situation with something great, like a toy or snack that your dog loves. Just be sure to take the “bate” away as soon as you are home, so that it’s a special “alone time” treat. Overall, counterconditioning helps your dog associate being left along with a good thing, thus negating the issue.
For more severe anxiety, your dog may require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. Ask your vet or a behavior specialist for advice. It’s completely possible to achieve results, it just takes time and patience.
Contact Seven Oaks Pet Hospital for help with your pet’s anxiety.