You’ve noticed recently that when you’re getting ready to leave the house, Lucky starts to get agitated. He whines, he paces, and he drools the whole time you’re preparing to leave. When you get back he’s been in the trash or ripped up couch cushions or chewed furniture.
What’s causing this behavior, and what can you do about it?
What is separation anxiety in dogs?
Lucky is a sociable dog and loves spending time with you, but when he’s away from you, he becomes anxious. The bond he shares with the whole family is so strong that when you’re not around he becomes distressed.
How does separation anxiety begin?
There may be other reasons for Lucky’s behavior which are similar to separation anxiety. These conditions may be attributed to something else.
- Incontinence: this can be caused by medical issues such as UTIs, diabetes, or other illnesses.
- Side effects from medication: some medications may cause a lack of appetite, urination or defecation inside the home, excessive salivation or even anxiety.
- Urinating from excitement or submission: some dogs could pee during play-time, when being reprimanded, being held or punished or even when greeted. These dogs will keep a submissive position. This is a type of dog personality, not a stress issue.
- Marking territory: dogs may start to mark their scent on things by urinating inside the home and on objects. If your dog isn’t neutered or spayed, this may be why.
- Boredom: your dog may be the type that needs mental stimulation, chews items, pees in the home or causes some other destruction. This is attention seeking behavior and isn’t caused by stress.
Separation anxiety can be caused by moving to a new home or moving in with a new family. There could be a death in the family or, perhaps, the arrival of a new baby.
Lucky may have spent time away from you for a period of time. He may have spent time in a boarding kennel or at the vet because of an illness.
Separation anxiety can be caused by a change in routine, such as if you get a new job. Lucky may be used to you leaving home at a specific time or having you home at a certain time. When that changes, then he may start to act out.
Also, depending on what breed of dog Lucky is, could he be prone to anxiety issues. Or, a traumatic event before you took him home could be what is contributing to the anxious behavior.
How to treat separation anxiety in dogs
So, you’ve taken Lucky to the vet and any medical issues have been ruled out. The vet agrees that Lucky is experiencing separation anxiety. So, what do you do now? The following are steps the vet has advised you can take to help ease Lucky’s issues:
- Teach him to enjoy being alone and give him boundaries. You can work with him by telling him to “stay” or “wait” while you go to another room. Praise him or give him a treat if he’s still where you left him when you come back. Or, you can buy a pet camera, so he can hear your voices when he’s home alone.
- You can try crate training him. Some dogs find comfort being in a confined area, almost like a den. Other dogs may find being confined can make the anxiety issues even worse. If he likes the crate, then it can give him a place to relax and be comfortable when left alone.
- Regular exercise is also another way to deal with the destructiveness of separation anxiety. If you give Lucky ample mental and physical stimulation, he’ll be too tired to be anxious whenever you leave him home alone.
Separation anxiety in dogs can cause problems if not probably dealt with when it occurs.