Understanding the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs is crucial to determining the proper treatment.
Dogs could suffer psychological damage and physical injury if left untreated.
Additonally, it’s common for dogs to cause damage in the home.
Frustrated pet owners might resort to scolding or punishing the dog…
Only magnifying the anxiety issue even worse.
Anxiety In Dogs
Ceaser Milan aka The Dog Whisperer believes there are two types of anxiety.
Simulated Separation Anxiety symptoms can mimic those of real Separation Anxiety.
Learned behavior reinforced by poor “leadership” characterizes Simulated Separation Anxiety.
In addition, Ceaser believes the dogs lack self-control and confidence.
With this type anxiety, the dog is actually not in distress or suffers from real anxiety when the owner is away.
“Negative attention can be a reward in many cases if the owner is unaware that certain needs of his dog are not being met.”
Ceasar’s advice to turn around this behavior is to be consistent with “obedience training, proper amounts of exercise, and strong leadership.”
Additionally, he recommends a gradual approach to introducing more time spent in a crate both when at home and away.
Dog Anxiety Symptoms
Some tell-tale signs that a dog is in distress and might be suffering from separation anxiety are:
1) Excessive Barking
If the excessive barking is persistent and only occurs when alone.
2) Drooling or Panting
This will only occur when preparing to leave the house.
3) Urinating or Defecating
This will occur only when left alone in the house.
4) Destructive Behavior
This can manifest in many ways such as chewing on household fixtures, closet doors or extreme digging which may result in injury to the dogs paws. Again this will only occur when pet parent has left the dog alone.
5) Breaking Out
When left in a crate a dog might try and chew his way out causing potential damage to the teeth, or perhaps try and dig or chew through a door.
How To Deal With Separation Anxiety
It is important to first rule out any medical issues that may be causing the behavior.
Depending on the severity there are a few different solutions.
Mild Separation Anxiety
Behavioral therapy will be the best solution in most cases.
Counterconditioning is a behavioral therapy that most professionals recommend.
The dog gradually becomes desensitized to whatever circumstances trigger the fear.
This method requires patience and consistency.
An example would be to gradually expose the dog to a situation that creates the fear response and use the reward system to recondition the dog to associate the trigger with a positive experience.
Offering the dog a Kong filled with some yummy treat, only when leaving the house, will eventually train the dog to associate the owner leaving with a reward.
Severe Separation Anxiety
A certified dog behaviorist or another professional is required to assist with a treatment plan.
In these types of cases keeping the dog from experiencing fear is absolutely paramount!
To accomplish this a professional will design a desensitization and counterconditioning program.
The professional will assist in its implementation while closely monitoring the dog’s progress.
Patience and consistency are required considering this extreme behavior may take several months to change.
As a last ditch effort when all behavior treatment has failed medication is a popular option.
Keep in mind this will only treat the symptoms without addressing the root cause.
Seeking the opinion of a veterinarian will help in determining if this is an appropriate option.
There is a large number of people who are completely against this type of solution and personally I have to agree.
One type of treatment that has been experiencing some success is CBD concentrate.
CBD’s are completely safe and are a great alternative to standard meds which can have significant side effects.
A Professional consultation will help clarify which solution is best.
Separation Anxiety can be very harmful to dogs.
The most important thing to remember is that dogs are highly social pack animals.
They view their owner as the pack leader regardless if the owner acts like one.
Every pet owner must learn how to effectively communicate with a dog.
Furthermore, setting proper boundaries while building the dog’s confidence is just as important.
Ultimately dog’s are a product of their environment which will be reflected in behavior, good or bad.
Being a good Pack Leader should NOT be taken lightly.
After all, dogs are the most loyal creatures on the planet…
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