Separation anxiety in your dog

Separation anxiety is acute nervous distress that is triggered when your dog is separated from you... and it can make Fido (and you) absolutely miserable. 

Some puppies and dogs are just a bit anxious by nature - they might get scared during thunderstorms, be a little wary around strangers or unsettled by change.

This isn`t terribly unusual and if your pet spends his time playing/napping while you`re out, then he`s probably just fine overall.

BUT if you own a dog who howls, whines, whimpers or barks whenever you`re out of his sight, or not at home, then he`s definitely letting you know that he`s upset - but that doesn`t necessarily mean that he has true separation anxiety.

Does your dog consistently act this way when you`re gone?.....

  • Pace, run in circles or seem to need to be in constant motion?
  • Whine, cry, howl, bark incessantly?
  • Pant or drool constantly, possibly even vomiting or retching?

  • `Pee` or `poop` all over the house, or in his crate, even though he`s just `done his business`?

  • Chew, scratch, dig, tear up and generally destroy your home?

If you answered "YES", to one or more of these questions, then yes it`s possible that your dog truly is experiencing some separation anxiety.

But don`t panic (Fido`s already panicking, we don`t need you to join him!), help is most definitely at hand.

I`ve put together a straightforward guide to recognizing and dealing with your pet`s `issues`, so life for you and your anxious little furchild is about to get a whole lot easier!

Why Does My Dog Get So Upset?

The fact that it`s not uncommon to see separation anxiety in dogs who are left alone for long periods of time, really shouldn`t be a big surprise!

Video: Dog Training: How To Cure Separation Anxiety In Dogs And Puppies

Dogs are very social creatures, and are by nature pack animals.

When left alone, their natural instinct is to `find` the rest of theirpack (yes, that`s YOU), and your pup can get very agitated, restless,nervous or even panicked if he isn`t able to do just that.

It`s natural for puppies to be upset, scared or worried during the first few days (or even weeks) in a new home.

Leaving his momma and siblings, stressful travel, new people, places and pets.... all of these can cause some mild puppy separation anxiety, and this is perfectly normal.

Separation anxiety in dogs is easier to prevent than it is to treat, and there are certain things you can do to help head off potential problems while your pup is still young. As with any habit or behavior, the longer your dog has had it, the longer it will take for him to overcome it.

Sadly, many, many dogs are euthanized or abandoned every year dueto the destructive behavior and difficulties associated with dogseparation anxiety.

But that should never happen because you can help your pet overcome his fears with a bit of help, plus love, patience and time.

A study in the Applied Animal Behavior Sciences journal, foundthat around 14% of dogs seen by veterinarians for routine care, showsome signs of separation anxiety, and this increases to a whopping 40% when you look at dogs who are being treated for behavioral problems.

True separation anxiety usually produces moderate or severe behavioral issues and your pup will be panicked, or even `hysterical`.

Mild nervousness, upset or `complaining` that settles down after some time alone is more likely to be a result of boredom or loneliness - just your dog letting you know he doesn`t appreciate you leaving him at home!

Understanding how strongly he feels about being left alone will play a big role in how you treat his worries, and what steps you need to take to get him past his fears.

Signs & Symptoms Of Dog Separation Anxiety

If your pet is naturally a bit nervous, it can be tricky to tell whether or not his problem is severe enough to need help.

Video: Separation Anxiety Curing Music! Music to Help Calm Down and Soothe Dogs with Separation Anxiety

Here are some behaviors that might signal mean he has some separation anxiety issues......

While You`re At Home:

If a dog is truly suffering from separation anxiety, he will usually show at least some of these signs in his everyday behavior.

  • Velcro-dog syndrome. If he is constantly clinging to you, following you around and `glued` to your side

  • He demands attention on a continuous basis. Pawing, barking or nudging you all the time

  • He gets very upset if you`re out of his sight, and can`t be left in another room by himself without getting agitated

  • He becomes nervous and agitated when he sees you getting ready togo out (for example when you pick up your car keys, put on your coatetc.)

  • You see a significant change in your pups` behavior, such as an increase in aggression or shyness, which is not `normal` for him

When You`re Out:

  • Barking, whining or howling that is continuous, and lasts the whole time you`re out

  • A constant state of restlessness, shown by behavior such as pacing,circling, pawing and often accompanied by panting and/or shaking

  • Destruction of objects, furniture or even the structure of thehouse itself. Chewing is often focused on items that belong to theperson the dog is closest to (such as clothes, shoes, hairbrushes etc.).

    Gnawing, chewing and scratching at doors, window frames/screens,flooring etc. is usually due to your dogs` desire to escape and `find`his pack

  • `Peeing` or `pooping` several times and in several different areas/locations within the house

Treating Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Although it`s not strictly possible to cure a dog of this type of anxiety,there are a whole lot of things that you can do to reduce and eveneliminate his distress symptoms... and the problem behaviors it causes.

With time, love and patience you can teach your pup that heneedn`t be afraid when you leave, and that you are always going to comeback home.

Helping him to feel safe in this knowledge will go a long way towards helping him relax.

Behavioral Modification/Training

My Dog Training For Separation Anxietypage will show you tried and true methods to reduce your pups`obsessive dependence and clinginess, and help him learn to relaxand amuse himself when you`re not home.

Background Noise

One tactic that often works very well is to use a dog relaxationcd or dvd to keep your pup calm, relaxed and entertained while you`reaway.

Studies and research have shown that a certain slow-tempo classicalmusic can reduce anxiety in dogs by 70 - 80%. That`s pretty significant!

You can find the best dog relaxation cd`s and more on my Dog Relaxation CD page.

Natural Remedies

There are some excellent natural remedies that can help reduceseparation anxiety in your dog.

One of the best and most popularproducts is Canine Lesstress for Dog Anxiety.

Isa gentle, all-natural herbal treatment that can reduce separationanxiety in your dog (as well as anxiety/nervousness due to other commontriggers such as car travel, thunderstorms, veterinary visits etc.)

It`s an all-natural herbal formula that has a gentle, calmingeffect. It also reduces hyperactivity and destructive behavior, whileboosting immune function. All without undesirable side effects.

Gentle, safe, effective - it will make both you and your pup feel much better!

Or maybe you want to try dog aromatherapy.

Okay, I know this might sound a little strange, but it works in the same way for dogs as it does for humans..... andwhen you think about how sensitive a dog`s nose is and how attuned hisis to the scents of the world around him, it`s not surprising thataromatherapy can be so effective.

Another scent-related product which is totally safe and very effective against anxiety of all sorts are canine pheromones.

There are a host of pheromone products on the market.

In our family we use them regularly for dogs or puppies who are anxious, stressed or fearful for any number of reasons:

Here are a few more safe and natural options that can help ease Fido`s anxiety:

Video: 6 HOURS of Relaxing Dog Music. For Separation Anxiety and Restless Pups!

Peaceful Puppies - Calming Music for Anxiety

Snuggle Puppies Starter Kit, Pink

Petlinks Scents of Security Comfort Blanket

Appeasing Pheromone Spray

Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Vol 1

Thundershirt for Anxiety

Get Him A Thundershirt

A Thundershirt looks like a dog coat, but it`s actually a scientifically designed, and highly effective, `wrap` that uses gentle, constant pressure to calm your dog`s central nervous system.

This helps himto relax and to feel safe and secure. It follows the same principle as swaddling a baby.

Recommended by thousands of dog owners, veterinarians andprofessional dog trainers, this is one of the simplest ways to relieveanxiety in dogs of all ages, sizes, breeds and temperaments.

Things That WON`T Help Your Dog Feel Better

  • Punishing him for his behavior, will only result in anincrease in the problems. He`s already anxious enough, if you punish orscold he`ll be even more upset and afraid. Your dog needs love, understanding and patience if he`s to overcome his fears.

  • Adding another pet to your household. Your dog`s fears will also generally not be helped by bringing in a new family member.Although to a human it makes sense that he may feel less alone andupset if he has a friend, to your dog it`s not as straightforward as that.

    Bringing a new dog or cat into the home is more likely to make him anxious and possibly jealous. Although most dogsadjust to the new member of the household eventually, in the short termyou will only be increasing his anxiety and unhappiness.

  • Crate trainingmay or may not make the situation worse. If your dog is destroying yourhome and possessions while you`re gone, a crate is the best, mostlogical solution. However, if he`s never been crate trained or even been in one before (one of themany good reasons to acclimatize any new puppy to a crate) he may reacthysterically.

    If you do have to introduce the crate as a new tool, do itas gradually as possible and get him used to it with you at home. Don`tjust put him in the crate for the first time and leave...he`llassociate the crate with his anxiety and reinforce the problems.

Also take a look at this page to see more dog separation anxiety medications and natural anxiety treatments.

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