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In recent years the term separation anxiety has been talked about quite often. Although there is no proven evidence that dogs get anxious, in certain situations we all have either seen it or heard of it.

 

Common signs of separation anxiety in dogs are:

  • Urinating and defecating

  • Barking or howling

  • Demolishing your home and garden

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It is important to remember that all the signs above can also be part of common naughty behaviour in puppies and adult dogs. With anxiety, these signs are likely only to show when you leave the house or in your absence. The cause of separation anxiety in dogs differs as it may be triggered by certain experiences.

 

Dog behaviourists say that the following situations can cause anxiety in dogs:

Dogs put up for adoption by previous owners feel abandoned and that triggers the emotion of anxiety.

 

Owners that work from home and suddenly have a change in their working situation that results in them leaving home every day, or even longer periods of time if travelling often can also hugely affect their dogs.

 

Moving home, the absence of a family member can also add the smallest amount of anxiety.

 

Helping your dog control anxiety is very important as it is not healthy or easy for them. You can try medication to help settle them down, but remember medication will not solve the problem long term. We need to teach them how to associate an unpleasant situation with something enjoyable.

 

This is a method called:

Counter-conditioning.  

A good example being:

 

When you leave your home, give your dog a Kong toy filled with their favourite food or treat. To start this teaching, it is recommended you do this daily with your dog for a short time. Long enough to know you are away but short enough so they don’t get anxious. Then, over the next couple of weeks, gradually increase the time you are away, this slight adjustment will make them feel safe and calm.

Remember there can be mild as well as severe forms of anxiety and both scenarios need to be treated with patience and love. A dog does not understand why you leave your home and they are happiest when you are there or arrive back from work.