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Seperation Anxiety in dogs: working couple's (single's) nightmare

20 Jan 2009 | by | Posted in: Training

Do you stay alone with your pets (not technically alone though) OR does your pet stays alone for a long time when you are away? If he gets "worked-up" while you are leaving, gets destructive while you are gone or if he/she is peeing/pooing all over the place...your pet might be suffering from "seperation anxiety".

Source: dogwoodpet.com

If your dog spends every second that you're home glued to your side, including sleeping times and is NOT comfortable being somewhat separated from you while you're home....you might have a true "situation”.

Some subtle signs:

  1. The dog chews on a variety of things, but chewing is often focused on items that smell most like you.
  2. The dog tries to stay close to the things that smell most of you (chewed stuff will still be warm when you get home).
  3. The dog pees or poops inappropriately.
  4. The dog barks continuously during the day, perhaps after a build-up of whining.
  5. The dog is wild to greet you, and is still stressed, anxious and clingy when you first arrive home.
  6. The dog cannot be isolated from you at any time, even in a different room with the door closed.
  7. The dog gets increasingly distressed as you prepare to leave.
  8. The dog is constantly following you and demanding your attention when you are home.

Here are some things you can do to help.

  1. Try to make your arrivals and departures very boring and low-key. Don't make a big fuss over saying hello and goodbye.
  2.  Try to make interactions with your dog on your terms, not his. You pet him, treat him, or play with him when you want, and not when he asks for it.
  3. Get your dog used to your getting-ready-to-leave cues, like picking up keys and jacket. Go through these actions repeatedly during the time when you're staying home, without actually leaving.
  4. Give your dog more exercise. A tired dog is a good dog! A dog can sleep most of the day if he's tired enough.
  5. Don’t draw attention to forbidden objects just before leaving - in other words, don't straighten up or point out the items that you don't want the dog to chew. Your dog might misinterpret your attention and give those objects his attention just because of it.

What am I doing these days?

Trying to figure out what begins my dog's anxiety. Is it when I put on my work shoes? Brush my hair? Pick up my keys? I try to find the earliest item in my getting-ready-to-go sequence that makes my dog anxious. Then I practice doing that action, over and over again, until the dog is no longer anxious about it. You will have to spend a LOT of time with the early items in your getting-ready-to-go sequence, but as your dog learns to deal with this sort of thing, it will get easier. Wish me luck!!

Note: Some medications, such as the tricyclic antidepressants, buspirone and benzodiazepines (possibly clomipramine hydrochloride, "Clomicalm" or amitryptalline), may help your dog get over his anxiety. These MUST be prescribed by a knowledgeable veterinarian

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