It may seem a strange concept but your dog can suffer from separation anxiety where it pines for you when you leave and/or are not around. Unfortunately, dog anxiety typically manifests itself as bad behavior; maybe your dog will tear up the cushions, knock down furniture, or break other household goods. If your dog is acting in such a way then it could be that it is not merely misbehaving and is instead suffering from dog separation anxiety. Not every dog suffers from dog anxiety but it is estimated that between 10 and 15% of canines experience some sort of separation problems. Of course, people live away from their dogs, but it could be when you leave your dog alone that it feels left out, after all dogs are pack animals and it is their instinct to have companions. It is important to differentiate if your dog has separation anxiety or whether it is just a plain old naughty pooch. Luckily this is fairly easy as dogs suffering from separation anxiety will typically only act out when they are left alone, and in some extreme cases even if the owner is just in the other room.
Why does separation anxiety happen with your dog?
With just 10 to 15% of the canine population affected by separation disorder, it stands to reason that not every dog will be afflicted by it. So that leaves the question, why does your dog suffer from separation anxiety while the big bruiser that guards the local garage at night seems to thrive on being alone?
There are numerous reasons but one of the most common is that the dog simply has never gained enough confidence to feel that it can fend for itself. Sometimes past events in the dog’s life can have a bearing on whether it will get dog anxiety, such as being left alone too long as a puppy or even being abused or neglected earlier in its life. As animals, dogs act on instinct and the smallest of changes in an environment could prove problematic, and it can happen that a dog that has been fine when alone for many years suddenly will develop separation issues. In these cases it could be a change in its lifestyle, maybe moving home, or the removal of a piece of furniture that was beloved by the dog, such as a couch.
Whatever the reason for your dog’s anxiety, it will likely start displaying its displeasure by showing environmental destruction, excessive barking, soiling, attempting escape, etc.
Dealing with dog anxiety
Sorting out the problem of dog anxiety is tricky. Other disorders can be fixed with simple disciplining, but separation anxiety is different because simply punishing your beloved pet will actually deepen its depression. If your dog associates you leaving the house with punishment upon your return it will deepen its anxiety when you do leave. Instead of punishment, you need to begin a training regime of reinforcing the confidence of your pet. If your dog is trained you could try getting it to sit and stay, and with each time move further away, start at first within the room and getting your dog to stay as long as possible before moving out of the room, and eventually leave the house for minutes to test your dog.
Change your routines because your dog is a creature of learning habits, it lives on what it knows, so it could well be something in your routine that causes your dog’s anxiety. Another trick is a distraction, give the dog something that will occupy it when you are gone such as dog toys, in this case, the TV is a great tool because it is something you would have on in the house when home, and so your dog will be totally familiar and comfortable with it. Shop for dog toys online at Vet Products Direct.
Teach your dog slowly
Remember, it takes time to change a long-time behavioral trait, so make sure you take baby steps. Do not leave for hours on end when training your dog to be confident, instead barely leave for a minute, and let your dog build gradual confidence about you not being in the house or room, while it is also good to spend some quality time with your dog before you leave and when you return. The ultimate goal is to have a healthy happy pet that does not destroy your house whenever you are out.
If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety then the Thundershirt is a fantastic aid in its rehabilitation. Aside from having a cool name, the Thundershirt has been shown to work on 80% of dogs and works by applying gentle pressure to a dog, giving it a sense of calm and reassurance. Find out more Dog Behavior and Training Products from Vet Products Direct