If your dog barks excessively, urinates or defecates a lot, destroys property or chews items, he may be experiencing separation anxiety. These are just some of the ways in which separation anxiety, or owner absent misbehavior, can manifest itself, and in the world of dog training it is one of the most common problems.
It isn’t uncommon when a family member is out of the house for a dog to whine, cry, howl or bark for hours on end, or even worse, scratch and chew at the door. Many dog owners are understandably quick to rush home to console their pet, although this actually encourages the misbehavior. If you own a dog, he must be trained to deal with periods of separation, and the right training can help you to deal with separation as much as it does him.
Separation anxiety in a dog can actually be caused by the exact manner in which you leave your home. Your dog can feel even more lonely and isolated if you linger and draw out the process of leaving and saying goodbye to him. When you do that, your dog isn’t able to work off his excess energy, which he will almost certainly have after feeling excited. The results can be an expensive piece of furniture being chewed up, or a favorite rug being attacked, once your dog starts to exhibit the associated destructive behaviors.
It may be that your dog simply has too much energy, and isn’t in fact experiencing separation anxiety. Making sure your dog gets more exercise may be an easy way to solve the problem and eliminate the destructive behaviors.
Identifying and addressing the root cause of his separation anxiety is essential, if you feel that being left alone is causing the behavior. Your dog should feel safe, secure and comfortable regardless of how long you are out of the house for, and one way to achieve that is to provide your dog with a companion – either another dog, or perhaps a cat. If that is not a realistic option, you should make a point of giving your dog plenty of things to play with while you are gone, such as chew toys or a ball.
One effective way to keep your dog from being bored and to eliminate separation anxiety is to make sure you give him your full attention during scheduled play times. A dog that seems anxious and stressed is often a lot more reassured and comfortable if you simply make sure you are spending quality time with him. You may well find that your dog simply sleeps all day while you are out of the house if he has had plenty of exercise and is well conditioned.
Before you leave the house each day, take at least a few minutes to play with your dog, and be sure to only leave the house once he seems to be relaxed and settled.
Separation anxiety is especially noticeable in dogs that have been adopted from an animal shelter, or that have been lost in the past, and then returned to their owner. Teaching your dog that you are leaving him and you are returning is an important part of addressing the issue of separation anxiety. However, you should get your dog accustomed gradually to you leaving and returning, and this approach will give the best results. You can do that by simply leaving your home and then returning, at irregular intervals during the day. It may take perseverance, but separation anxiety in dogs can be treated.