Monday, March 22, 2010

When Will You Be Home?

Separation Anxiety is a sad and scary thing. Your poor dog literally becomes sick with depression, and they act out in many owner displeasing ways.
When left alone, a dog suffering from separation anxiety will become extremely anxious, not understanding where you have gone or if you will ever return.

Signs include: Chewing, scratching, busting out of confinement, barking, salivating, urinating, defecating, vomiting or digging.

Remember that dogs are social pack animals and safety comes in numbers.

I see cases of this every day, and it is a large reason for owner relinquishment's. There is hope however. The treatment for separation anxiety is effective, but lengthy. Unfortunately many owners are simply not willing to put in the time and the effort to cure their pets of this agonizing anxiety.

First of all, let me say that if your dog is truly suffering from serious anxiety where their safety is in danger, see a vet. They can prescribe something to calm your dogs nerves. THIS IS NOT THE "FIX"! The root of the problem must still be gotten to!

Let's start with your EXIT: When it comes time for you to leave, just do it! Do NOT make a big production out of it. No 'ooey gooey' goodbyes. It is actually better to ignore your dog for about 10 minutes prior to your leaving. Otherwise your dog experiences a showering of your affections followed by complete withdrawal.

Give your dog something to distract themselves with. KONG toys are GREAT distractions and can be filled with everything from your dogs left over dinner to peanut butter, cream cheese, baby food and more! This only comes out when you leave. The dog now has something to look forward to instead of dread.

Confinement: Confine your anxious dog to a small area of your home. (And please dog proof it first!) Crating is an option ONLY if it does not cause your dog any physical damage. Some dogs will try so hard to escape a crate that they injure themselves.
Remember, a confined dog cannot damage your home!

Leave a radio or TV on in another room, or make a recording of your own voice. The recording only has to be about 20 minutes as most anxiety and destruction occur within that time period.

Next you will need to DESENSITIZE your dog to your absence. This is the time consuming part, but it works!
Go through your normal 'getting ready to leave' routine, walk out the door, then immediately walk back in. Place all your things back and sit down. In about 10 minutes do it again, but this time count to 10 outside. Repeat many times gradually working up to a trip to the corner store. Now your dog should have less anxiety about your return because sometimes you come right back! So, every time you leave, it is not an all day absence. Your dog relaxes, and so can you!

And of course a tired dog is a happy dog! The more exercise you can give your dog the more likely they will be to sleep while you are out!

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