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Pet Behavior Articles - Canine Behavior
Coping with Separation Anxiety
By Sharda Baker
Do you have problems with your dog missing you too
much when you must be away due to work or other
activities? It is actually not that uncommon of a
problem, although it can certainly be distressing for
both dogs as well as their owners.
This issue is known as separation anxiety and there are ways to effectively cope with it and
make it easier for your dog to deal with those times when you must be away.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
There are many signs of separation anxiety including: barking, chewing, defecating, digging,
excessive salivating, scratching, and urinating. Chewing, digging, and scratching are signs of
your dog trying to “escape.” Barking, defecating, excessive salivating, and urinating are
signs of anxiety and fear.
Causes of Separation Anxiety
Such causes of separation anxiety include genetics, lack of socialization, lack of training, lack
of confidence, mistreatment by a previous owner, extensive confinement, and too much
bonding with the owner. As you can see, most of these are the owner’s responsibility.
Treatment of Separation Anxiety
There are things that you can do to prevent separation anxiety. When you put your dog in
his crate, don’t have a long, emotional good-bye. Simply, walk away. It is even a good idea
to ignore your dog 5 minutes before you leave. If you draw attention to your departure, your
dog will worry when the love and emotion is suddenly stopped.
Also try and teach your dog not to associate certain behaviors of yours with your leaving the
house and being away for hours. Dogs, as we have learnt in Chapter 1 are good at
associating certain actions with certain outcomes. You may have noticed for example that as
dress for work, or pick up your car keys, your dogs begins to get anxious.
Try changing your dog’s negative associations to your behaviors to positive ones.
For example, on a weekend, dress for work, pick up the car keys and go outside for a few
minutes only, then come back inside and give your dog a treat. You dog will eventually begin
to associate you getting ready for work as a positive association rather than a negative one.
Make sure you have plenty of treats and toys in your dog’s crate to keep him entertained
while you are away. If your dog always knows that he’ll have treats when you leave, it won’t
be as traumatic for him.
Before you leave, turn on a radio or television so your dog has some noise. A talk station is
more effective than music, because the sound of human voices could comfort him. You could
even tape your own voice.
When you return home, don’t give your dog any emotion or attention when you let him out
of his crate. This will reinforce that being outside of the crate is better than being inside the
crate. Let him outside to eliminate immediately.
In extreme causes a calmative type medication may be prescribed for you dog by your Vet.
Separation anxiety is something that should improve over time. However, if it does not, or if
your dog shows signs of extreme aggression when he is let out, seek a professional trainer
and/or see you Vet for further assistance.
When you pay close attention to your dog’s behavior, you are better able to identify his bad
behaviors and correct them through training exercises. Your dog wants your attention and
love, so when use this to your advantage when you are training. Keep in mind that good
quality dog training resources can help with this issue.
Sharda Baker has published several dog ebook and audios.