Separation Anxiety: help your dog survive being alone, without destroying your home!

Separation Anxiety: help your dog survive being alone, without destroying your home!

Author: Stacy Braslau-Schneck, CPDT

Separation Anxiety and DogsMuch of what is called “separation anxiety” is really boredom, or the dog discovering the chance to engage in his favorite “hobbies” safely. If your dog spends every second that you’re home glued to your side, including sleeping times, and any destruction you find happens within the first 20 minutes of your absence (use a video camera to watch, or come back within a short time period) then it’s possible that you have a true case of separation anxiety. If your dog can spend the night away from you, and is comfortable being somewhat separated from you while you’re home, you probably do not really have separation anxiety – you are more likely to be dealing with boredom or just inappropriate chewing, barking, digging, etc.

It is likely to be separation anxiety if:

  • The dog chews on a variety of things, but chewing is often focused on items that smell most like you (or a particular person in your house) such as recently discarded clothes, including underwear or socks, or favorite chairs; and /or escape routes (doors or windows). The dog only chews these items when you’re gone. (If your dog chews on a few goodies, like the couch, or chews on things even when you’re around, you have a houseproofing problem – see the other training tips for advice).
  • The dog tries to stay close to the things that smell most of you (chewed stuff will still be warm when you get home)
  • The dog pees or poops inappropriately, sometimes in many locations.
  • The dog barks continuously during the day, perhaps after a build-up of whining. The barking is not on-off-on-off. (For other kinds of barking, see the Barking Training Tip.)
  • The dog always shows these behaviors when left alone, even for short periods (30 minutes or less).
  • The dog is wild to greet you, and is still stressed, anxious and clingy when you first arrive home. The dog does not appear “guilty” over destroyed items.
  • Destruction begins soon after you leave; or possibly again shortly before you come home.
  • The dog cannot be isolated from you at any time, even in a different room with the door closed.
  • The dog sleeps with you. (This does not mean that all dogs who sleep with their owners will get separation anxiety. It does mean that dogs that survive being apart from you at night can survive it during the day, too).
  • Sometimes, the dog can be left alone in a car (for any length of time) or other unusual location, without showing anxiety or destructiveness.
  • Sometimes the dog can be left with anyone; sometimes it is one particular person whose absence triggers the anxiety or issues.
  • The dog gets increasingly distressed as you prepare to leave.
  • The dog is constantly following you and demanding your attention when you are home.

Tomorrow Stacy will reveal some things you can do to help your pet overcome separation anxiety (without destroying your home!) …. STAY TUNED !

Author: Stacy Braslau-Schneck, CPDT

Stacy’s Wag’N’Train in San Jose, CA (USA) will teach you how to communicate your rules to your dog while enhancing the relationship between you and your four-footed “family member”. We’ll help you learn how your dog learns and how you can take advantage of all the good things you provide to get the behavior you want.



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