Dealing With Separation Anxiety

Many owners are under stress due to the separation anxiety disorder that their dogs experience.  Dogs who have separation anxiety can be very anxious and owners often don’t know how to deal with the problem.

Symptoms of separation anxiety

  • continuous barking after you leave the home
  • crying  and whining
  • desperate scratching or scraping at doors, carpeting and flooring.
  • defecating or urinating
  • howling
  • chewing and destroying things in the home
  • extreme distress

People have to work, shop, and care for their families.  How can you teach your dog that they will be fine when you leave the house for a few minutes, and that you will soon be home?  How can you teach them that they don’t need to worry?  Separation anxiety can be a difficult problem to overcome and lots of people have lots of opinions.

Eventually it comes down to being supportive of your dog and reinforcing him as he learns that you will return.

Separation Anxiety Can Be Dangerous

In some cases, separation anxiety can be mistaken for other emotional conditions, such as excitability.  For example, when you come home at the end of the day and your dog is jumping up and down and wagging his tail, you probably think that your dog is very happy to see you. This is often the case, but sometimes the kind of behavior is a sign of excitability. This kind of excitability could be due to deeply felt feelings of anguish your dog felt while you were away.

This kind of anguish could occur when a dog is left alone. Your dog’s instincts may be telling him that he has been abandoned, which is a terrible situation for a pack animal like a dog.  However, there is no need to feel guilty when you leave your dog alone.  Most dogs are able to cope with being left alone very well.  Even dogs that do have problems with being left alone can learn to deal with it.

On the other hand, if you simply ignore the excitement that your dog shows or let your dog keep showing this kind of excitement, it can be harmful to your dog’s health. It can develop into depression and anxiety, and it can also lead to destructive behavior.

Why Do Dogs Become Anxious?

It helps to understand separation anxiety when you remember that dogs are pack animals and have a pack mentality.  When a dog is left alone, they can feel that they have been left out of the pack.  On another level, your dog may become anxious if you don’t show them that you are a pack leader who is strong and in command.

In nature, the pack’s leader may need to leave the pack in order to hunt or look ahead.  If your dog is getting upset when you leave the house, it may be because your dog does not see you as the pack leader.  Your dog may think that he has that position and that you are supposed to be a follower.

It’s up to you to be in charge of the situation and let your dog know that you are the pack leader and you will return each time you leave.  Dogs that embrace their owner as the pack leader usually have much less stress and anxiety than other dogs.  They put their faith in you to handle the issues that may crop up.

Other cases of separation may not involved pack leader roles. In some cases separation anxiety may be related to how much exercise your dog is getting.  Dogs that don’t get enough exercise can become upset when the owner leaves the house.  They may busy themselves while the owner is away with destructive behavior.

In these cases the easiest solution is to make sure your dog gets a good walk before you leave the house.  Take your dog for at least a 30 minute walk first.  Then walk your dog for 30 minutes after you come home and waited the 15 minutes before greeting.

Providing What Your Dog Needs

As a dog owner, your job is to make sure your dog gets what he needs, and not just what he wants.  The things dogs want aren’t always what’s best for them.  Treating your dog as a dog, and not a s person, is better for your dog.  It will give your dog the stability he needs, and build the trust that the two you depend on in your relationship.

By providing what your dog needs, your dog will be able to relax when you leave the house.  And you’ll be able to relax, knowing that your dog won’t be engaging in destructive behavior when you’re away from home.

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