Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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In many cases the symptoms of separation anxiety begin to be noticeable when the dog exhibits different behavior if they are left alone. Research has shown there are a number of causes, which can increase the likelihood of the dog developing separation anxiety. Many concerned dog owners want to address the issue and minimize the anxiety felt by the dog. Dog separation anxiety usually occurs when we have changes in our daily schedule and then these changes disrupt the amount of time we are able to spend with our dogs. Some dogs tend to be extremely attached to their owner(s), and then become highly insecure when that person leaves.  In general, it’s normal for puppies to show some signs of separation anxiety but as time passes they become more confident about being alone. In some cases it occurs in dogs who have previously not spent much time alone or who perhaps were abandoned at some point in their lives. Some dogs may have experienced a traumatic event, such as a frightening experience at a kennel which could cause them to behave this way. First off, it should be noted that punishment does not work and will only aggravate the situation by raising the dog’s overall anxiety and compounding it with fear of his owner. It’s important to understand that separation anxiety is a panic response, not behavior that the dog willfully engages in. We moved to a new home about 3 months ago and our 4 year old bichon frise starting acting terrible – she was always so well behaved. I work odd hours and found that if I leave a radio on when I am going out, my dog hears human voices and I think it comforts her somewhat and she doesn’t feel so alone. Separation anxiety can result from suffering a traumatic experience, such as a major earthquake or becoming lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Unfortunately, sometimes separation anxiety just isn’t preventable, especially with an older dog. The condition can be devastating for owners when they find that the dog is unable to handle periods of being left alone. Understanding the underlying cause can help you to develop a treatment strategy depending on the severity of the symptoms.
It is important that any potential treatment strategy will allow for normal routine for both you and your dog.

If you allow your dog plenty of play and exercise time, it will help your dog to feel tired when you leave the home.
However if your dog is suffering severely from anxiety issues it may be necessary to medicate while other methods of treating the condition are explored. We have the expertise and experience to assist in all matters of dog health, including dealing with separation anxiety and we would be happy to help with any questions or queries you may have.
When faced with these unexpected changes, dogs can become stressed, develop anxiety, feel panic and as a result often behave destructively. Please be sure to remember that if you are stressed out, then your mood will only add to your dog’s anxiety. If you come home to find your dog chewing on your old house slippers, in all probability he simply finds the activity enjoyable and uses your absence as a chance to gnaw away, uninterrupted. For example, your dog knows that when you put on your jacket, you’re about to leave the house. See that he receives plenty of physical and mental exercise and that he gets lots of time with you. Dogs who’ve been properly introduced to their crate tend to feel safe and secure in this private den. Left untreated, it causes damage to your house and belongings — and serious psychological suffering for your dog. This will facilitate that you can live a normal life without dealing with anxiety and stress. This will ensure your dog feels love from the play time and attention, whilst increasing the likelihood that they will sleep while you are away. Behavior modification is a different kind of therapy but it will take commitment, time and effort.
This will allow the dog to not be unduly stressed making it more receptive to other treatment methods. Like us, dogs like routine and can easily get stressed with changes or disruptions in their schedule.
It can also occur when a dog is removed from its mother and siblings too early (prior to 8 weeks old) or too late (after 14 weeks).

The results — including the destruction of your belongings and the deterioration of your dog’s mental and physical health — can be devastating.
This signals to your dog that coming and going are casual, common occurrences — no need for drama or spectacular displays of emotion.
In some cases, dogs prefer the sanctuary of a crate to being left alone in a big open house. But, thanks to desensitization, crating techniques, and an understanding of the disorder, it’s treatable.
The most common reason for the development of separation anxiety is of lack of confidence for the dog. There are a number of treatments which can be very effective in both mild and severe cases of dog separation anxiety. This strategy may eventually lead to your dog developing an association with time spent alone being a time for rest and relaxation. It is important to remember that trying to discipline your dog as a treatment is counterproductive. Also, all dogs no matter what their size should be walked briskly at least a half hour before the owner leaves, preferably longer. It usually takes eight weeks or less to bring symptoms under control; in rare cases, much longer. In fact, a diagnosis of separation anxiety in no way precludes a healthy and happy existence for your dog. Minor cases may involve a little bit of whining,while major cases can be very distressing and dangerous with the dog chewing walls or even electrical cables.

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