Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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Separation anxiety is usually diagnosed if your dog becomes extremely upset when you leave, or when you appear to be leaving;  for example, by picking up your keys. Massive destruction (particularly scratches on the door), housebreaking mistakes, or neighbors complaining of howling and barking while you’re gone. If your dog does display these behaviors, it’s important to remember that they result from anxiety, not because your dog wants to drive you crazy, and that punishing your dog will only make the problem worse. Most researchers agree that separation anxiety is caused by a few different factors, one of which might be a strong genetic component — in other words, it’s not your fault! However, the good news is that researchers did not find that “spoiling activities” had an effect on separation anxiety one way or the other, so feel free to keep sleeping with your dog and feeding him bacon.
Separation anxiety is not an easy fix, and behaviorists generally will attack it with a three-pronged approach.


Jaime Van Wye is the CEO and Lead Dog Trainer at Zoom Room, which offers classes in dog agility, obedience, puppy preschool, therapy dog, tricks training, and a wide range of specialty classes such as Shy Dog for newly-adopted rescue dogs.
It’s more likely that your dog has separation anxiety – an anxiety disorder that can cause many dog behavior problems.
Luckily, we know a lot more now than we used to about how to treat separation anxiety, so you have a much better chance of coming home to a happy dog and a clean house. These “exit cues” are an indication to him that you’re heading out the door, and some dogs will whine, pace, or bark. However, if your dog is “hyper-attached” to you, chances are greater that he or she will develop separation anxiety at some point. Other factors that play into separation anxiety include new ownership or a change in the household (like a new baby or moving) which can all trigger anxiety.


The best remedy for separation anxiety is to get your dog used to you leaving and coming back, over and over and over again.
Van Wye has trained dogs in search and rescue, bomb and drug detection, criminal apprehension and tracking.
Dog pheromones that mimic the smell of a mother dog can help reduce separation anxiety, as can Rescue Remedy, an over-the-counter calming supplement.
Sometimes dogs with severe anxiety can make owners feel overwhelmed, but taking a step-by-step approach to treating it WILL pay off, so try and be patient.



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