School is starting, the summer activities with your family pets are over. Now your dogs are at home by themselves without you. Your dogs maybe experiencing separation anxiety and agitation when you leave the house. Their anxiety leads to barking, howling, chewing on the door frames, destroying the furniture, escaping from the backyard, or urinating and defecating in the house. Often you can unknowingly encourage the separation anxiety when you leave or return by making a fuss over the family dog. Dogs recently adopted from shelters have already experienced abandonment and may be especially anxious. Other things that can lead to separation anxiety are moving to a new home or a change in the family structure such as young people going away to college or a family member who’s job requires long business trips.
The goal in treating separation anxiety is to reduce your dog’s dependence on you or other family members. He needs to know the world is alright if you or other family members are not at home.
Verbal or physical punishment in response to destructive behavior, urination or defecation in the house will only increase your dogs anxiety levels. Treatment options may consist of behavior modification or anti-anxiety medication.
Changing departure and arrival routines may help. For routine departures you should ignore your dog starting 30 minutes before you leave. About 5-10 minutes before leaving give your dog a couple of treats or a toy to distract him while you are leaving. On arrival ignore your dog until he is relaxed and has settled down.
For more tips, please call Bullard-Marks Vet Med Center at (559) 432-0887.