Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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Puppies often have nighttime stress when they leave their mother and litter mates to go to their new home. In young puppies just coming to your home for the first time, this anxiety probably is a temporary situation that will work itself out over time. While fear of separation is an issue for dogs of any age, puppies crated at night or placed in a room away from their pet parents may feel uncomfortable due to their immaturity. Your first step in combating a canine's nighttime stress is to stop offering incentives for inappropriate behavior. While behavior modification should always be the first step when treating a dog’s nighttime anxiety, medication prescribed by your vet may also be necessary.

Over-the-counter homeopathic preparations formulated to combat stress can also be helpful in treating canine anxiety. Take heart from knowing that you and your dog are not alone -- night anxiety is a common canine malady. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website lists benzodiazepines, monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs, tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors -- SSRIs -- as drugs commonly prescribed to treat canine anxiety. Since your dog’s night anxiety may be stressful for every family member, working with a veterinarian and an animal behaviorist is the key to addressing his fears and improving your relationship. Although this may be fine for well-adjusted canines, it can reinforce negative feelings if your dog experiences severe anxiety.

A better option would be to keep a crate or dog bed by your bed, gradually moving it farther away each night.

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