Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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In order to stop our dogs from having separation anxiety, we first need to understand what is causing it. Since it is not natural for a pack animal to be left alone, this can also occur in a submissive dog that does see you as the leader, but that is not completely secure within his pack or a dog that has not learned how to handle being 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. Seperation anxiety may be preventable with proper socialization and training when a puppyPuppies should be well socialized with other animals and people. One of the first things that you need to do is look for the warning signs of separation anxiety.
The best way to tell if your dog is suffering from anxiety, and that they aren’t just bored, is to spend more time with them and get them some toys to play with throughout the day. Most pet owners want to treat the separation anxiety naturally, rather than give them medications to help ease the effects. You may still want to crate your dogs while you are gone, however having the crates close to one another can ease your dogs’ tension, as they will not be alone. We already mentioned the separation anxiety that puppies have, and this is sometimes something that they just grow out of as they get older and become more trusting that you will return home to them at the end of the day.
This often times makes it difficult to determine why your dog may be experiencing this anxiety when they are separated from you.


There are a variety of different signs that may indicate that they suffer from separation anxiety.
It is most often seen in puppies because they are sad being away from their mother, and they make a close bond when they go to a new home.
The problem is, sometimes the signs of separation anxiety are very closely related to the signs that come along with just plain boredom in dogs.
Puppies will often show these signs in the beginning, and sometimes it is because of both boredom AND separation anxiety. Saying goodbye to a dog is something that helps the human deal with the separation, but in reality the ritual of saying goodbye means nothing to the dog. In fact, a diagnosis of separation anxiety in no way precludes a healthy and happy existence for your dog. Once you rule out anything physical, you can begin to treat the anxiety and modify their behaviors.
A well adjusted puppy should do well either alone or with the family and will be less likely to have seperation anxiety in the future.
Sometimes, homes that have multiple dogs will be less likely to have pups that experience these anxiety issues, because they always have someone there, a friend so to speak! If you do not understand the instincts of the dog and his pack members, the articles on this page Understanding Dog Behavior will give you a better idea of how your dog instinctively thinks. This too, although it does not happen often, is separation anxiety because it only happens when we leave the house.


Some dogs will attempt to escape or become extremely anxious when confined, so that destructiveness or house-soiling when a dog is locked up in a crate, basement, or laundry room, may be due to confinement or barrier anxiety and associated attempts at escape.
In other situations fear or anxiety due to an external event (construction, storms, fireworks) may trigger destructive behaviors.
Perhaps the best way to determine if the behaviors are due to the anxiety associated with the owner's departure is to make an audiotape or movie clip of the behavior when the dog is alone. With separation anxiety you must reinforce the pet for settling down, relaxing and showing some independence, while attention seeking and following behaviors should never be reinforced. In addition, the pet must learn to accept progressively longer periods of inattention and separation while the owners are at home.
If you can prevent your dog from observing any of these anxiety inducing pre-departure cues, or if you can train your dog that these cues are no longer predictive of departure, then the anxiety is greatly reduced. Train your pet to associate these cues with enjoyable, relaxing situations (rather than the anxiety of impending departure). Remember however, that attention at other times, especially on demand, encourages the dog to follow and pester rather than stay in its bed and relax.




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