Dogs are emotional creatures and generally see one person as their master. This means that their loyalty usually lies with one member of the family. This strong attachment between the master and the dog naturally contributes to separation anxiety when they are separated.
Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety tend to demonstrate undesirable behavior when they do not see their owners for an extended period of time. Separation anxiety in dogs can be activated after long periods of absence like after a vacation. A substantial change in routine or a change of place of residence can also cause separation anxiety.
Differentiating between bad behavior and separation anxiety in dogs is simple. A dog suffering from separation anxiety is likely to follow the master from room to room. Occasionally anxious dogs will act in a strange way even when the owner is another room with the door closed.
Undesirable behavior may include destructiveness like scratching doors and windows, excessive barking, attempts to escape, defecation at inappropriate places, inactivity, lethargy and loss of appetite. In rare cases, separation anxiety in dogs manifests itself in psychosomatic sicknesses like diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive coat licking.
Although dogs are by nature prone to attachment, some owners will unwittingly bring about anxiety in dogs. Moving the dog to a new home, neglect and abuse are some of the actions that can trigger separation anxiety in dogs.
Addressing undesirable behaviors set off by separation anxiety requires some planning. This needs to start as soon as you bring a puppy into your home.
Preventing separation anxiety in dogs means avoiding situations that promote an exorbitant attachment between dog and owner. This makes it easier for your dog to live independently. See to it that the dog does not accompany you everywhere. Crate train your dog while he is still young.
Crate training done at a later stage and punishment do not bring about the desired effects. If you have an adult dog that suffers from separation anxiety, you will need to slowly train him to accept your absence.
You can practice this by leaving your dog for a few minutes and then returning. Pet and reward him if he does not show any signs of bad behavior. Persevere with this and slowly increase the length of time that you are away.
There are other things that you should do while preventing separation anxiety in dogs. Try not to feel like you are abandoning your dog when you leave your house. Your dog will be able to sense your feelings, and your guilt will make him even more anxious. It may help to let your pet have a few of your old shirts to snuggle with. This will reassure your dog that you are not far away and will be coming back.
Most of the time, providing a safety cue when you leave your dog alone proves quite effective. Another safety cue could be a particular toy to play with or leaving the television or radio on or a phrase that you repeat each time you leave the house.
In some extreme cases, preventing separation anxiety in dogs may become difficult, and you may have to resort to some anti-anxiety drugs to keep your dog calm. These drugs are temporary measures and are not permanent solutions for your dog's condition.
In many cases a natural remedy will be a success.