One of the most common problems a veterinary clinic may hear about is how destructive or crazy their dog is when left alone. A dog may chew, howl, urinate, defecate, bark or try and dig their way out when left alone. These are not signs of a dog that has a lack of training or manners and is often signs of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety happens when a dog that’s hyper-attached to his owner gets extremely stressed when left alone. It’s more than a little whining when you leave or a bit of mischief while you’re out. It’s a serious condition and one of the main reasons owners get frustrated with their dogs and give them up. Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors.
The first step in treating for separation anxiety is to rule out any other medical conditions. Sometimes dogs have accidents in the house because of infections or hormone problems or other health conditions. If your dog is on any other medications, speak with your vet to determine if they may be the cause.
If the problem is mild, your dog may be able to get help through training. Conditioning and training your pet can be a great way to overcome mild to moderate separation anxiety. Make coming and going as low-key as possible, so your dog doesn’t get excited. Leave them a special treat, such as puzzle toys. Do not leave them unsupervised with rawhide or large chews that could potentially become a choking hazard!
If the problem is more severe, special types of training may be necessary. A behaviour therapist may be able to help you, and your dog gets some relief, while others may require medications to help them relax while you are out. Crate training can also be beneficial for any dog with separation anxiety, while some become more stressed out in the kennel.
Separation anxiety is a stressful situation for pet and owner, but remember not to scold your pet. Anxious behaviours are not the result of disobedience or spite, but a result of distress. Your dog displays anxious behaviours when left alone because they’re upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish them, they may become even more upset, and the problem could get much worse.
If you have any questions, please contact us today.
Written by: Torbay Road Animal Hospital