Many dogs experience separation
anxiety when left alone. They will often whine, bark, cry, howl, chew, dig,
scratch at the door, soil the house or destroy your home and yard. We often
unintentionally train our dogs to behave this way because whenever they throw
this kind of tantrum when we leave, we quickly come back to reassure them, give
them attention or even a bone or biscuit. If you do this, your dog will soon learn
that he can control you with emotional blackmail.
Long, drawn-out farewells can
create separation anxiety problems by first exciting your dog and then making
the isolation more obvious when you’re gone. Just when he gets all worked up
and ready to play, suddenly you disappear. With all this energy, your dog will
either try his best to get you to come back or he will have to vent his energy
in some other way. Since he can’t build model airplanes or invite his buddies
over for a hand of poker, he does doggy things – like chew, dig and bark.
Perhaps it is not separation
anxiety after all! We often think our dog is destructive because he is angry and spiteful that we
left him, but he could actually be just trying to have some fun since there is
nothing else to do. He may be relieved to be able to do those things he
normally can’t do when you’re home. He may be thinking, “Thank goodness
the owner is finally leaving! Now I can chase the cat, dig up the tomatoes, get
in the trash, and bark at the neighbors. They never let me do those things when
Some dogs with separation anxiety
are stressed, nervous and insecure when they are left alone. They express this
nervous energy in typical dog fashion – chewing, digging, barking and house soiling.
To prevent separation anxiety, dogs
need to feel happy, secure, and comfortable when you’re away. It’s important to
give them things to do while you’re gone. Provide them with lots of toys, such as a Kong
stuffed with treats, and chew bones. Often another companion pet can help
alleviate the boredom.
Another way to prevent separation
anxiety is to set aside scheduled time periods to give your dog undivided
attention, play and exercise. A happy, well-exercised dog will usually sleep
contentedly during the day while you are gone. Be sure that one of the
scheduled play sessions occurs before you must leave for the day. Give your dog
a chance to settle down before you leave and don’t make a big deal of your
departure – just leave without any emotion or commotion.
If your dog is already experiencing
separation anxiety, then gradually accustom him to your leaving. Practice
leaving and returning several times a day until he gets used to your departures
and realizes that you are not abandoning him forever. Gradually leave for
longer and longer periods of time, but start out by leaving for just 5 minutes
and returning again.