Interpreting your dog's body language can be a very difficult task. Scientists now think that a single behavior may have multiple meanings, so an action cannot be generalized.Dog behavior has to be interpreted in context.
We are inclined to generalize that when a dog wags his tail, he is happy. Even so, there are times when a dog will wag his tail to express anxiety instead of excitement.
Domesticated dogs form a healthy bond with the owner and their family. This leads to overdependence on the owner which can at times become overbearing. Overdependence can contribute to fear of separation. Over time, if not treated, this anxiety can lead to abnormal behavior from an otherwise friendly dog. Fear of isolation is one of the principal reasons behind anxiety that can cause undesirable and abnormal behavior in dogs.
Treating separation anxiety in dogs with drugs is the path that many dog owners take, as it is probably simpler than the other alternatives. As with most established medicines, anxiety medication has its own faults.
Clomipramine and amitriptyline are two main drugs that are used to treat separation anxiety in dogs. These drugs are tricyclic antidepressants and can have serious side effects. They can also interfere with other medications that the dog may need for other conditions.
Here are some of the side effects of the antidepressants that need to be closely monitored:
Diarrhea, sedation and vomiting
Low blood pressure
Disturbance in bowel movements
Dry mouth and decreased salivation
Another reason why anxiety drugs should be avoided if possible is that these drugs are not final solutions for the problem. These medications may assist in calming the dog for a short length of time, but when the effect of the drug wears off, similar problems with abnormal behavior are likely to begin.
Because of the severe side effects that such drugs can cause, they should be used only under certain unavoidable conditions.
Below are some of the situations that may cause you to think about using medication for treating separation anxiety in dogs:
Extremely severe symptoms of anxiety
The need to leave the dog alone for a prolonged period of time
Using the medication during the intermediary period while you are trying to modify your dog's behavior
Your efforts will be more productive if you aim at relieving stress in your dog rather than choosing medication. Such medication can only prove to be a makeshift solution. To guarantee that the root cause of the anxiety is treated and cured for good, behavior modification is crucial.
The procedure of behavior modification is not an easy one, and it demands high degrees of patience. Occasionally it is necessary to train your dog from the start.
The idea behind behavior modification is to reassure your dog that you will always return when you leave him. You can try a new safety cue for your dog when you have to leave him. To start with, leave a comforting toy, and then come back within a couple of minutes. Bit by bit increase your dog's exposure to situations that you feel cause anxiety. Train your dog to anticipate pleasure rather than fear from situations that usually give rise to anxiety.
Be sure that you are organized and ready for situations where you may have to retrace your steps in the behavior modification process. Being prepared will enable you to handle frustrating situations easier.