Separation Anxiety

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I used to love that Disney movie, the one where the bear cubs got into

the cabin and just tore the place apart to the upbeat accompaniment of

a comical tune. I have to tell you, the movie clips were funny, but

coming home to a torn up couch and curtains with the upbeat

accompaniment of my cursing just isn’t as funny. If you’re nodding

your head in sympathy, you just might have a dog with separation

anxiety.  The good news is, many of these dogs can be helped!


Your dog is a pack animal, and as such, he craves companionship. The

drive to work, play, and be sociable is what makes dogs such enjoyable

family members. That drive can also be the source of trouble, if your

dog hasn’t been trained to calm himself in your absence.


Teach your new puppy to enjoy his crate by making it his special

private puppy relaxing room! Use the crate for pleasurable

experiences; feeding time, small breaks during the day with highly

desirable chew toys, and bedtime (again, with a chew toy). By making

sure your puppy is entertained while in the crate, you will help him

to see the crate as a place of refuge and relaxation. As your puppy

matures he will continue to seek respite in his crate throughout the

day-encourage this by popping pleasurable surprises into his crate

from time to time. Dogs that are crate trained are able to travel more

comfortably, and are able to sooth themselves when worried or lonely

by going to their crate for solace.


Some of our dogs come to us with no crate training and an enhanced

need to be “in group”. These dogs will bark repetitively, urinate,

defecate, dig up the yard or carpet, or destroy household

furniture.These are the hallmarks of separation anxiety.  Most of

these dogs can be retrained to self-soothe, although many will need

chemical help to ease their anxiety while they are being trained.

There are several drug therapies that can ease the training process.

Most will be used for a period of months, or in tough cases, a few

years as an anxious dog slowly learns new skills and responses to

being home alone.


If your puppy or adult dog displays signs of separation anxiety, schedule

a consultation with your Veterinarian so she can assess the severity of

your dog’s separation anxiety and help you devise a retraining plan

for your buddy!

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