Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs and How Can You Make it Better?

While it should come as no surprise to most people that their dogs are smarter than they seem, the idea of separation anxiety is still not widely accepted. Though there are horror stories of dogs that were left along for long periods of time, some owners attribute it to simply bad behavior and something that should be accepted as part of the dog. But just like humans, dog can suffer from mental anguish that needs special treatment. Instead of simply thinking that separation anxiety is caused by inherent animal instinct, maybe it's time to think about it as something you can help your dog control.

Defining Separation Anxiety

Dogs are naturally social creatures; they like to be with other people, other dogs, and other stimuli. When they are left by themselves without anyone to interact with, they can often become restless and prone to bad behaviors. What happens is that when a dog becomes attached to a certain person, they want this person to be around them all the time. This makes sense. But when the person does leave them alone, the dog can begin to be anxious about this separation. They can begin to think or wonder if their owner is ever going to come home. This anxiety can manifest itself in a number of different ways and is often seen when dogs are left alone for only hours at a time.

But separation anxiety can also be triggered by a traumatic event in the dog's life - i.e. illness, change of owners, abuse, etc.

The good news is that separation anxiety is treatable with a number of different therapies. So if you notice that your dog is a bit clingier than they used to be or you realize that you have time away from home coming up, you need to start taking steps now.

What You Might See

It's fairly obvious when your dog is trying to get your attention. They'll bark, they'll yelp and they'll simply do anything that seems to keep your attention on them. While you might think these behaviors are normal, you can note that they only occur when you are leaving the house or when you are out of the same room as the dog.

Other behaviors can include:

* Whining and yelping
* Urinating in improper places, even when they have been house trained
* Defecating in the wrong areas, even when they have been house trained
* Chewing of things they shouldn't be chewing
* Scratching at things they shouldn't be scratching, especially doors

When you start to notice these signs, you may have a dog that is experiencing separation anxiety. They simply want to be around you, so the anxiety they are feeling is manifesting itself in these destructive behaviors. For example, they are scratching at the door because they want to find you or to see you.

How to Limit the Anxiety in Your Dog

One of the first things that typically happen when the dog begins to show signs of separation anxiety is that the owner tends to yell at them and punish them for the behaviors. And while this seems like the right thing to do, it can cause several things to happen.

First, the dog can begin to see this attention as a good thing, so they continue the behaviors as a way to get you to interact with them. Or two, the dog can become even more anxious - this is especially true when the dog has come from an abusive background.

You also don't want to put your dog into a crate when you leave for a few hours as this is not only upsetting to the dog but can make separation even more intense for them.

Here are some other ways to start helping your dog be less anxious when you leave:

* Don't make a big fuss when you are leaving in the morning or coming home at night. This will help calm the dog down and not make one part of the day more exciting than another other part.

* Leave the dog something that smells like you to help them feel calm,

* Desensitize your dog to your absences by leaving the room for a few minutes and then coming back, getting your keys, then coming back, etc. This will help your dog realize that you are coming back.

* Let the dog know that you'll be back by saying something of that nature every time you leave. The dog will begin to associate this phrase with your return.

Getting Help from Your Vet

If no matter what you do, your dog does not seem to be able to calm down when you leave the room or your house, you might want to ask your vet if you can start your dog on a short term drug therapy program. Medications like valium can be used in conjunction with separation anxiety training to help your dog begin to settle down.

Article Source: http://www.abcarticledirectory.com

About Author: Grant Eckert is a writer for VetRxDirect. VetRxDirect is a leading provider of Pet Medications.

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Article Source: http://www.abcarticledirectory.com


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