Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Once in a while, it is expected that you may have to leave your dog alone. A constant worry when you leave the dog alone is whether they will really be OK. In fact, did you know that dogs tend to develop a disorder known as separation anxiety when left alone?

Understanding Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a behavioral disorder that causes abnormal panic in dogs. Just like in humans who may be suffering from loneliness, dogs tend to exhibit this disorder more when they are left alone. However, do not take boredom to mean separation anxiety. Whereas boredom may cause your dog to be laid back or pace up and down, separation anxiety is characterized by unusually rowdy behavior.

Telltale signs of separation anxiety

The first sign is that your dog lets out agitated barks, whines and howls a few minutes or just immediately after you leave the house. You are likely to get complaints about this from your close neighbors.

You are also likely to find your house a bit messed up if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. Your dog forgets the polite manners and good habits you have taught him, such as where to defecate and urinate.

At a more advanced stage, a dog suffering from separation anxiety will make several attempts to break out of the house. You will notice that the dog has chewed bits of your door in an attempt to escape the house.

More so once you return home, you will notice that your dog looks tired and overwhelmed. The greetings that you often get when you come home may now be frantic instead.

If you have noticed such signs in your dog, then it is time to consider treating your dog for separation anxiety.

Treatment for separation anxiety

Before you begin the treatment, remember that the ultimate goal is to teach your dog to be calm and enjoy time alone — or at least tolerate being alone. Every treatment must therefore be geared toward this goal.

To start with, try changing your work routine. As some of the most intelligent pets, dogs are able to master their pet parent’s routine. They can easily tell when their pet parent is about to take off and leave them alone. By changing your routine, the dog will be a bit confused as to whether or not you are gone and staying away for hours.

Also, you should consider reducing the number of hours you are away. Although this may affect your work, it is an effective method of treating separation anxiety.

What causes separation anxiety

The most common cause of this disorder is the dog having recently lost an important member of his group (ex. a puppy).

Also, a change in pet parents or neighborhoods has been shown to trigger this disorder.

Medical problems may also cause separation anxiety. For instance, when your dog suddenly begins urinating on your couch or a place other than the spot where the dog is trained to urinate, it may be due to a medical condition that leads the dog to ‘leak.’

However, urinating in the wrong spots may not necessarily be due to the disorder. It has been shown that some dogs will urinate when they are excited or being punished.