Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety? Mine did!

Diagnosing Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety exhibit behavior problems when they’re left alone. Typically, they’ll have a dramatic anxiety response for 20-60 minutes after their owners leave them, if not all day!
The most common of these behaviors are: Digging, chewing and scratching at doors or windows in an attempt to escape and reunite with their owners. Howling, barking and crying in an attempt to get their owner to return. Urination and defecation (even with housetrained dogs) as a result of distress.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
For a minor separation anxiety problem, the following techniques may be helpful.
Keep arrivals and departures low-key. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes, then calmly pet him after he has calmed down. Never give affection when he's in an excited state!
Leave your dog with an article of clothing that smells like you, an old tee shirt that you’ve slept in recently, for example. Let him sleep in the hamper if he wishes. This helped my dog.
Establish a “safety cue”—a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you’ll be back. Dogs usually learn to associate certain cues with short absences by their owners.
Some examples of safety cues are: a playing radio; a playing television; a bone; or a toy (one that doesn’t have dangerous fillings and can’t be torn into pieces) or even a highly prized treat that he only gets when you leave. Leaving a radio on to provide company for your dog isn’t particularly useful by itself, but a playing radio may work if you’ve used it consistently as a safety cue in your practice sessions.
If your dog engages in destructive chewing as part of his separation distress, offering him a puzzle may help. There are several dog sites that sell dog puzzles and treat balls that are very helpful in entertaining your pet.
PawLickers has a large selection of puzzles. I have purchased several and alternate them. They are awesome! My dog loves them, but he's a real go-getter! I'm sure a slower, lazy dog wouldn't bother to get the treats hidden inside - so go by what your pets personality is.
These are just some tips I picked up from my trainer and from a little searching on the web. Now our neurotic dog is much happier when we leave every day.
Here's Murray - the neurotic little misfit I love to pieces! (Yes, he was a rescue!)
Furry Murray Christmas 2010

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