SEPARATION ANXIETY

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This is a particularly frustrating and distressing problem for the owner as well as the dog.  I am often contacted by people who have developed elaborate ways to make sure that their dog is not left on its own.  This can involve organizing dog sitters, dog walkers, taking the dog to family or friends, taking the dog to work, leaving the dog in the car (impossible in hot weather) or running the risk of returning to destruction, puddles, and neighbours complaining of whining, howling and barking.  The stress can be become so much that people become virtual prisoners in their own home who have forgotten the meaning of having a social life.

 Reasons for Separation Anxiety

There are many reasons for separation anxiety.  These can include:

  • Puppies removed from their mother too young.
  • A continuation of puppy separation anxiety: it is natural for a puppy to suffer from some separation anxiety as they are a pack animal, but in some dogs with fearful, nervous or timid temperaments, this can continue once full grown.  
  • Change of Family:  going to a new family especially after a spell in a shelter.
  • Change in a dog’s routine:  An abrupt change in terms of when or how long a dog is left alone.
  • Moving home.
  • Change in the family: someone leaving or coming into the home or a new baby.
  • Loss or illness of another dog in the household.  
  • Treating a dog as though it is a human rather than a dog.
  • Not teaching a dog that it should separate from you

Tips on dealing with Separation Anxiety

  • Pay less attention to your dog gradually so he gets used to not being the centre of attention.  
  • Start to separate from your dog for short periods of time while in the home.  Don't let him follow you around the house.  If he starts to whine and fret don't react to it.  Wait for your dog to quieten before going back into him.  This may mean a very quick 60 seconds to start with, building up the separation gradually.
  • Practice leaving the house with all your usual preparations, go out and then come straight back in again.  Your dog will soon stop associating your preparations to depart with actual departure and will be more relaxed when you actually do leave.   
  • Be calm and assured when leaving the house.  Do not confuse your dog by trying to reassure him as this will have the reverse effect. 
  • When coming back do not make a fuss of your dog.  Make sure he is calm before you greet him.  Owners often find this very hard to do, but you will be giving your dogs lots of attention once he has got over the excitement of you returning.  
  • Buy indestructible chews and toy to entertain your dog when you are out.
  • If your dog is noise sensitive leave the TV or Radio on at the normal level you would listen to it.  This will help drown out other noises and is reasuring to a dog as this is normal background noise.
  • If your dogs barks when you are out DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO USE A ANTI BARK COLLAR.  Your dog is already extremely distressed when you leave and then he is being punished by either being shocked or sprayed when he barks.  This will not resolve the problem and can make your dog far worse when you leave.      

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU CANNOT RESOLVE YOUR DOGS SEPARATION ANXIETY?

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This issue takes a great deal of detective work to discover the underlying (and often multiple) causes.   A detailed history is needed, an assessment of current home arrangements, assessment of your dogs temperament and details of any illness and/or family changes are needed to find a new regime to overcome the mental anguish suffered by both the dog and its owner.

There is no quick fix for separation anxiety, but with our unique Bark Busters behaviour modification system, I will identify the underlying causes for the separation anxiety, and put an action plan and appropriate therapy in place to correct and cure the behaviour.  With persistence and patience this distressing problem can be resolved

 For expert professional help and advice on Separation Anxiety in your dog

Call Freephone 0808 100 4071

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