How to Deal with Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Article excerpt

Separation anxiety is the fear or extreme dislike of isolation.

Because domestic dogs usually consider the human family to be their social group, separation from family members can create tremendous stress and anxiety and produce undesirable behavior.

Some dogs are born with an abnormal predisposition to dependency. Early separation from the mother, lack of attachment early in life (puppies kept in shelters or pet shops) and absence of a family member (death, divorce, child leaving home) all are traumatic events that can lead to dependency and the undesirable behavior associated with separation anxiety.

Behaviors typical of separation anxiety include destructive behavior, excessive barking, urination/defecation in inappropriate places, depression, self-mutilation, vomiting, diarrhea and an excessive and prolonged greeting upon return of the owner.

Your veterinarian will probably want to run some tests (blood work, urinalysis) to rule out an underlying medical condition before reaching the diagnosis of separation anxiety.

After a diagnosis is made, treatment is aimed at reducing anxiety levels and making the dog more independent. Many dogs with separation anxiety will engage in persistent attention-seeking behaviors. These behaviors should be ignored. If the dog demands attention, just get up and walk away.

Give attention only when the dog is calm and not demanding attention. …