Separation Anxiety In Dogs: Five Things You Must Know To Solve This Dog Behavior Problem

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Are you just plain fed up?  Does your pet go into a frenzy of destructive dog behavior whenever you leave him alone?  Is separation anxiety in dogs making your hope of having a happy, well-behaved dog into a nightmare of facing a mess every time you come home?

If so, you’re not alone.  This condition is the second most common reason that dog owners have for giving up a dog, or even having him to put sleep.  But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Here are five things you must know about dogs with separation anxiety.

What Is Canine Separation Anxiety?

Basically, your dog has a panic attack when you leave him alone, usually within a half hour of your leaving.  Your canine may show the following dog behavior problems:

  • High-pitched yipping and whining, in hopes of getting you to come home
  • Digging at doors and windows in an effort to escape
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation, even if he’s housebroken
  • Destroying furniture, clothing, or whatever else he can get into

Your dog isn’t doing these things to get back at you for leaving him alone.  He’s doing it because he’s scared.

Why Does My Dog Have This Problem?

Nobody knows for sure why some dogs with separation anxiety develop this condition, and others don’t.  Some breeds, including Weimaraners, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, and Airedales are more likely to develop canine separation anxiety. 

Being gone a lot often contributes to the problem.  Dogs are social animals who need lots of interaction with their owners to be happy.  If you know your dog will be alone most of the time, you may want to have somebody come in to walk him during the day, or take him to a doggy day care. 

Avoid Making A Big Fuss When You Get Home

Does your dog greet you when you get home by jumping around and barking, almost to the point of being out of control?  Do you encourage this behavior by petting him, and lavishing attention on him when he’s acting crazy? 

You’re making a big mistake if you do.  It’s flattering to have your dog so happy to see you, but giving him attention when he acts like this only reinforces the idea that your daily homecoming is the highest point of his day.  He’s almost manic at this point, but the depression sets in once more the next day when you have to leave for work again.

Keep your comings and goings low-key.  Yes, he should be happy to see you, but not excessively so.

Are You The Alpha Male Or Is Your Dog?

Many dog owners make the mistake of trying to treat their dog as an equal.  Dogs are pack animals, and there’s always a leader in the pack.  If you aren’t the alpha dog, there’s a leadership vacuum that your dog will step up to fill. 

If your canine thinks he’s the pack leader, he may suffer separation anxiety in dogs if you leave.  This is because in the wild, the pack leader can leave the pack and come back.  However, the other dogs (the followers) don’t have this option of leaving their pack leader. 

Your dog sees you leaving, and this upsets him because he believes he’s responsible for you as his pack member.  This is another reason you need to be the pack leader, not your dog.


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