A dog will only exhibit true separation anxiety when its left alone. When the dog has constant companionship destructive behavior does not occur and the canine appears to be on its best behavior. Left alone the dog may begin to bark, dig, chew on everything and may even soil the premises.
The fear of being alone is normally rooted in the dog’s past. Shelter dogs are notorious for having separation anxiety because of their fear of being abandoned. Every time the owner steps out the door the dog has an immediate flashback to the feelings it felt when being left alone on a street corner or in a shelter. The dog does not see the future as humans do, it lives in the here and now with the past reflected in its mind as a learning experience. The dog immediately begins to flip out as its fear overtakes it when the owner disappears. The dog’s panic response kicks in and the dog appears to loose touch with reality.
A dog with separation anxiety will take love and patience to overcome its issues. The dog will need time to build a bond with the owner so it can realize that the owner will return home each time. Here are several valuable steps that an owner can take to reinforce the feelings of safety and security that the dog will need to overcome its panic attacks when its left alone.
1) Dogs are creatures of habit. They actually thrive on routine and crave that things stay the same each day. An ongoing routine will build trust and calm feelings within the dog. As time passes the dog will see that each day is a routine and the dog will gradually be able to let go of its panic when the owner leaves. The routine make take months to form but inevitably it will have an effect on the.
2) Each time you leave the dog leave a favorite stuffed animal, toy or blanket that contains your smell for the dog. Give it to the dog with a hug and praise. Talk in a calm voice. Do not make a big deal out of leaving.
3) Begin leaving the dog alone for only 15 minute stretches of time. Increase the alone time by five minutes every few days.
4) Remain calm when you return home. If the dog has been destructive simply clean up the mess. Do not scold the dog, yell or become overly excited. A calm environment will help reassure the dog and help it to remain calm.
5) Each time you leave be sure to leave background noise on. A softly playing radio or television can help calm the dog.
6) Give your dog a small gift each time you leave and return. It can be a simple treat or a new toy. It should be something that you know your dog will look forward too.
7) Feed the dog before leaving the house. Many dogs who have sustained abuse and starvation as a homeless pet will often worry about where its next meal is coming from which only helps to fuel its panic when alone. If a dog has a full belly it will be less likely be concern itself over future food.
8) Many dogs file solace in a kennel or crate. It feels like a large den or cave. If your dog enjoys the crate than do not hesitate to lock the dog within its safe confines.
9) Enroll the dog in obedience classes with you. Obedience helps to form a bond between dog and human. The bond is based on trust. If the dog trusts you than it will inevitably begin to assume that you will return each time you leave the house which will help alleviate the panic attacks.
10) Consider placing the dog on medication. The veterinarian will be able to prescribe a drug that will help calm the dog. Use the medication to keep the dog calm so that over time it comes to understand that you will inevitably return home. As the realization begins to dawn on the dog, you can cease giving the dog the medication to see if its behavior has improved.