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Separation Anxiety in Dogs

April 01, 2016

Does your dog sometimes misbehave when he’s left alone? If so, Fido may be suffering from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is quite common in our canine friends, but its symptoms are often mistaken for simple bad behavior. In this article, a Lansing, MI veterinarian discusses canine separation anxiety.

Why Do Dogs Get Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is very much tied into Fido’s pack mentality. In the wild, Man’s Best Friend is almost always with his pack. Your pet sees his human buddies as his pack mates, and can become sad, anxious, or lonely when separated from them. Dogs that were adopted from shelters may be more prone to getting separation anxiety, perhaps because they have been lost or been abandoned by owners in the past.

What Are The Signs of Separation Anxiety?

Dogs with separation anxiety often channel their angst into destructive behaviors, such as digging, chewing, or tearing up sofa cushions. Our four-legged friends have also been known to get into the trash. Your canine buddy may whine, bark, or howl to signal his distress. (Note: this may be Fido’s way of trying to let his ‘pack’ know where he is.) Your pooch could also dig, pace, or defecate improperly. He may even try to escape!

Treatment Options

While there are ways to help your furry pal get over his distress, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for separation anxiety. The treatment and training that will work best for your pooch will depend on several factors, including the severity of his anxiety. Consult a professional dog behaviorist.

Do’s and Don’ts

There are some general rules of thumb to follow when helping your canine friend deal with his anxiety. Don’t punish Fido for his behavior, even if he destroyed something: this could backfire, and make your pet even more anxious. You may also want to avoid paying attention to your dog when you are leaving or returning home, as this could reinforce his behavior. Safety measures may also be needed. If your pooch tries to escape when left alone, he is at risk of hurting himself. Consider puppy-proofing a specific room, and put your canine pal there with his bed, food, and plenty of toys when you leave. Ask your vet for more recommendations.

Do you have any questions about your dog’s health, behavior, or care? We can help! Call us, your Lansing, MI animal clinic, anytime.