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!