Written by Terry Broun Jr.
Separation anxiety in canines can stem from a number of reasons: a sudden change in residence; the death or absence of a loved one; being left alone much longer than the canine is used to, etc. Some animals show signs of stress the minute their owners grab a coat and/or car keys. Â
Often anxious pets begin drooling, tearing up the surrounds, defecating/unrinating everywhere, whining/howling, frantic pacing, even trying to stop their human family member from leaving and trying to escape from whatever means possible. Some four-leggeds can be so distressed at their humanâ€™s absence that they can injure paws, break teeth and do themselves other harm while trying to escape through a door/window or fence.
In such instances immediate teaching of acceptable behavior through positive training from a pup is a must to avoid problems later.
In mild cases getting your four-legged to associate being left alone with positive/good things will help to condition your pet view owner absence as a no-stress time. If your fur-bud is motivated by food invest in a Kong chew toy that allows you to fill it with food, that way your four-legged will be otherwise occupied with trying to wrest treats from the toy and not notice his absent owner.
If your pet appears agitated when you prepare to leave, then several times per day for about a week, put on your coat and grab your keys as if youâ€™re about to head off and instead go and sit down for 10-15 minutes. Once thatâ€™s under control, work on slowly getting your fur-bud accustomed to your absence for short amounts of time. Never let your dog feel the full-blown effect of his anxiety in this instance, or your efforts will have an opposite effect. For example, if you normally exit through the front door, wait outside your front door far enough away where your dog canâ€™t see you, but close enough to listen out for his reactions. Begin with about 10-15 minutes several times a day for a few days and if your canine is fine, double your absence time only after youâ€™re sure your pet is not adversely reactive.
Under no circumstance should a dog be punished for being distressed as this will exacerbate the problem. A distraught pet is already under great stress. Itâ€™s important to understand that it took some time for your dog to develop his current state and it will take the same amount of time to undo or at least lessen his anxiety.
In extreme cases, engage a canine behaviourist who works closely with anxious four-leggeds on a daily basis, to alleviate your fur-friendâ€™s troubles. Deep-seated fears in canines are beyond the lay personâ€™s understanding and ability.