Does your dog whimper and cry when you leave her? Does she chew up your favorite pair of shoes when you’re at work? Or has she chewed patches of fur off her body? She is probably suffering from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety? Really? Yes, really.
What is separation anxiety? Simply put it is your dog really, really missing you. But instead of just missing you, the separation causes her extreme distress in the form of anxiety. This can manifest itself in behaviors that if left unaddressed will only escalate into destructive and potentially dangerous habits.
Common signs of anxiety are:
- excessive barking or whining
- excessive chewing or licking
- hyperactive behavior
- eliminating in the house [even though she’s housebroken]
The best way to avoid this experience at all is to begin behavior modification during the puppy years. This means having a regular routine. She needs to have her own comfortable bed or crate that is welcoming. Lots of praise and affection from you will condition her to accept her bed or crate as a positive, relaxing and welcome retreat.
Once she is used to this comfortable area, leaving her will be much easier. However, your arrival home will undoubtedly have her whining, jumping and wiggling in excitement. This behavior should be ignored and your greeting delayed until she calms down. Otherwise she will associate your arrival home as a cue to exhibit undesirable behaviors.
Your dog needed to know that that your leaving isn’t permanent. To help her overcome anxiety when you leave, practice a routine of leaving for short periods of time, say five minutes, then come back inside. Begin to extend the time you are gone and before you know it she’ll accept your leaving with the assurange that you will return.
There are also many natural products that can help lead to a calmer pet. Pick up some Rescue Remedy from the Zoom Room. These water soluble drops are fast acting, made of natural ingredients and can be useful when used in conjunction with behavior training. Or check out the Comfort Zone Plug-In which emits pheromones that mimic the scent of a mother feeding her pups which can be very calming to an anxious dog.
Through positive reinforcement, praise and time, your dog will learn to accept your leaving as part of her daily routine and look forward to your return.