View Single Post
Old 12-28-2006, 12:09 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 6,521

Rep: 304 Doberman's is a jewel in the roughDoberman's is a jewel in the roughDoberman's is a jewel in the roughDoberman's is a jewel in the rough
Unique Rep: 70
Default How to: Ease separation anxiety in dogs

Separation anxiety in dogs is one of the most common behavioural problems most owners will encounter. It can manifest itself in many different ways and many different forms.

One of the most common is destructive behaviour when a dog is left alone for short to long periods of time. You have gone to work and have come home to find your couch has been destroyed and Fido is covered in stuffing. Your first question is: Why? Why would he do this? Your first reaction is most likely to be punishment, this is a problem in itself. Punishment is directed at the problem but fails to actually address the problem, it may cause the dog to be come more anxious and this in turn can crop up new behavioural problems in the long run.

Barking and whining are also signs of separation anxiety as well as urinating and defecating in uacceptable locations. Alot of dogs will be come very excited when the owner arrives home. A dog that chews on oneself is also showing signs of anxiety.

Treating this can be relatively simply. Presently, the most accepted method for treating separation anxiety involves planned departures. This method involves gradually adjusting the dog to being alone by exposure to many short departures. Because the stress response occurs very shortly after the owner's departure (within 30 minutes), the dog should only be left alone for very short intervals at first (seconds to minutes) to ensure the owner returns before the onset of anxiety. Before the departure period can be increased, the owner must be certain that the dog is not stressed. The owner must closely watch the dog for signs of anxiety and ensure that the dog does not engage in an extended greeting. After the short departures have reached the 30 minute mark, the length of time the dog is left can be increased by larger increments. Once the dog can be left alone for 1.5 hours, it can usually be left all day. Departure and return should be made as quiet and uneventful as possible to avoid overstimulating the dog. The dog should not be given attention prior to departures nor given attention and praise upon returns. Excessive attention prior to departure and upon return seem to increase the anxiety during separation and it does NOT make it easier on the dog as most people suspect. Safety cues may also be used to associate with the short departures (Voith and Borchelt 1985). The T.V. or radio can be left on or an acceptable chew toy may be provided for the dog. However, it is very important that the safety cue is not an item that the dog already associates with anxiety. These cues help the dog relate to a previous safe period of isolation.

There are medications available but this only helps in the short term and should only be used for dogs with severe anxiety. It is better to teach them they will be OK rather then mask the problem.

Doberman's is offline Doberman's's Gallery  
Reply With Quote