Separation Anxiety in dogs is not uncommon, due to the fact that they are instinctually pack animals. This simply means that your canine companion is a very social animal, and thrives in a “pack” environment. Due to this need for social interaction, many dogs can become distressed or anxious when you leave the house, or force them to be alone for any significant amount of time.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of separation anxiety can often be hard to pick up, as many pet owners just put it down to being “over excited” or “they just missed me”, however what your pet does when you’re not around can be a serious problem, not just for your dog, but also for your neighbours. However on the flip side, many dog owners misdiagnose their canine companions with separation anxiety, when their behaviour is simply reacting to stimuli in a natural way. Some common signs of Separation Anxiety are:
- Excessive barking.
- Pacing back and forth.
- Hyperactivity at your return or departure.
Watch the video in this page for Sydney Animal Hospitals approach to dog separation anxiety.
What can you do to reduce these destructive behaviours?
There are a number of behavioural modification practices or medical products that that can be utilised to reduce your dogs stress levels when you, the pack leader, come and go throughout the day, however these are dependant on your dogs response to treatment. Some good behavioural modification methods are:
- Exercise your dog for around 20 – 30 minutes before you leave. A tired dog has less energy to spend on barking and ruining furniture.
- A few minutes before you leave, give your dog an engaging toy filled with peanut butter, or a big bone to chew on. This may take your dogs mind off the fact that you are leaving.
- Make your departures and arrivals as calm and non-eventful as possible. If your dog is over excited upon your return, ignore him until he calms down.
- Consider booking your dog into Doggy Day Care or leaving him with a family member or friend.
- Go through the actions of departure, without actually leaving. For example, pick up your car keys and put on your coat, but then relax on the couch instead of leaving.
What do I do if my dog suffers from separation anxiety?
Our veterinarians at Sydney Animal Hospitals will give your four legged friend a full clinical checkup, including blood tests, to rule out any underlying clinical causes for your dogs behaviour. This is necessary due to the fact that occasionally illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes are responsible for your canine companions distressing behaviour. If no clinical cause is apparent, your acting veterinarian will recommend a personalised course of treatment for your dog.