Separation Anxiety in Dogs

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Many dog parents complain that their four-legged companions are destructive when they are alone. The dogs are found to urinate, bark, dig, defecate, howl, or chew. Some even try to escape. These are not lack of manners but distress signs. If a dog shows anxiety or drools when its owners prepare to leave for office, then it can be surmised that the canine has separation anxiety. This happens when your dog is too much attached to you. The result is household destruction and even by consequence, self-injury. You will find such destruction to be around the exit points of the house, like doors or windows.

Extreme behaviors

A few dogs even go to the extent of trying to prevent their owners from leaving. It will start to bark and show distress symptoms a few minutes after you leave it alone in the house. As an owner, you aim to reassure the dog that all is well and there is nothing to fear. You should set things up in such a way that the dog does not experience anxiety or fear when you leave. It may also enjoy the few hours of solitude.

Counterconditioning

Counter-conditioning is an excellent solution if your dog suffers from mild separation anxiety. The counter-conditioning treatment is a process which changes the aggressive, fearful, or anxious reaction of the present to a relaxed and pleasant one. This is done by associating the presence or sight of a disliked person, object, animal or a situation with something nice, which the dog likes. The canine after a certain period learns that what it fears is in reality good for it. One example is you come back with treats every day or give your dog a puzzle to solve. Once the canine solves the puzzle, the box opens up to give it a treat. If you opt for the toy method, do not forget to remove the toy (and the associated gift) when you are at home. Do keep in mind that this solution will work only for dogs with mild separation anxiety as severely anxious dogs will not eat food in the absence of their owners. A complex counterconditioning and desensitization program is needed for moderate or severe instances of separation anxiety. It is important you gradually accustom your dog to be alone. Begin with a few short separations and then slowly increase the length of the time you are absent over a few weeks. Daily sessions are a must in such cases. The dog must not be afraid at any time during the process. If it does, the process will be a failure. It is a good idea to call a specialist in this case.