Owning A Dog With Separation Anxiety

One of the greatest parts of owning a dog is the special bond formed between the dog and the dog’s master. However, that bond can become so strong that the dog becomes dependent on its owner. Separation anxiety affects around 15% of dogs, from puppies to older dogs. Separation anxiety is caused when a dog becomes extremely distressed in its owner’s absence.

There are several reasons why a dog may suffer from separation anxiety. These may include:

 change in routine
 traumatic events
 being left alone for long periods

A dog with separation anxiety becomes confused when its owner leaves the house.It does not know where its master has gone, how long he will be gone for or if he is coming back.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

A dog usually shows signs of anxiety as the owner prepares to leave the house. Dogs associate certain tasks like putting shoes on and turning off lights, to the owner leaving the house. The sound of keys jangling can also trigger anxiety,

Signs a dog may be suffering from separation anxiety include:

 persistent barking or yapping
 destructive behaviour
 urinating or defecating in the house
 following the owner around

Treating Separation Anxiety

There is no set way for treating separation anxiety. Putting the dog into a confined space while the owner is absent will make the dog feel safer and more secure. A small room or pen is ideal. Leaving the dog with some old clothes containing its master’s scent may also help. Give the dog some interactive toys and treats to keep it entertained while its owner is away. Leaving a radio on may also be of benefit.

Do not fuss over the dog when leaving the house and do not greet it immediately on return. Ignore attention seeking behaviour like barking and jumping.

One technique involves first teaching the dog to sit and stay as this will become the first sign that you are leaving. Practice leaving the house for a couple of minutes using the sit and stay signal. If the dog reacts positively to this, it is a good idea to practice being away from the dog for longer periods, around half an hour at a time.

Use treats to reward good behaviour. Over a period of a few weeks gradually increase the time you are away from the dog. Over time the dog will get used to this new routine. It is a long process and will not happen overnight. Dog owners need to be patient and persistent. The dog needs to feel reassured that you will return to them.

Separation anxiety can also be treated by medication from a veterinarian.