Separation anxiety in dogs is common and the reasons vary. Some dogs are simply more prone to this condition because they are naturally and innately more nervous than other breeds. A dog that has not been properly socialized may experience a higher rate of anxiety as well. Some pet experts feel that anxiety in dogs is a direct result of their being dominant and needing to exude traits to show so. Often times pets that have been sheltered for long periods or who have had multiple owners throughout their lives exhibit anxiety on a grander scale. No matter what the causation, anxiety in dogs can usually be treated easily.
Initially a canine owner should understand whether the symptoms their dog are displaying truly are a result of anxiety or whether there is something else going on with their pet such as simply wanting to act up and attempt to get one over on their owner (dominance). Dogs are social creatures by nature and become attached to their owners. It is to be expected that they may experience a little anxiety when they are separated from their owner and their behavior will clue you in as to whether the anxiety is happening in a healthy dose or if there is something more disconcerting going on. Signs of anxiety are fairly straight forward and include destruction of the home and owner’s property, urinating and/or defecating even after the dog is house trained, changes in appetite and excessive howling or barking both when the owner is gone and returns home.
It is dangerous for dogs, just as with people, to remain in a high state of anxiety for long periods of time, so the situation should be addressed as quickly as possible. Helping your dog understand that the two of you need time apart early on in life is the best way to reduce stress. Eventually your dog will begin to learn, and more importantly trust that just because you leave it does not mean you are never coming back-and this is their worst fear. Practice leaving your dog in time intervals; first for an hour or two and then gradually increasing the time so you pet begins to feel comfortable with the “now you see him or her, now you don’t” routine, but will also come to realize that each time you eventually return.
Make your dog’s surroundings as comfortable as possible while you are away. Dogs need to be entertained when left to their own devices and if you don’t supply the entertainment, they will find it on their own-typically utilizing your furniture and other personal objects like shoes. Purchase a plethora of toys for your dog to play with.
Be sure to leave plenty of fresh water and food, especially if you are departing for a long period of time. Purchase a comfortable bed for your pet that will offer security and warmth while you’re away. You may even consider leaving something behind with your scent on it. This is extremely comforting for dogs.
Finally, make the time you do spend with your canine count! Bonding with your dog is ultimately the most important thing you can do for him or her. Incorporating walks and playing fetch will give your dog the security they need and the attention they crave.