Is your canine friend showing signs of separation anxiety in dogs? This type of destructive dog behavior can make life an absolute nightmare for a dog owner. In fact, it’s the second most common reason that dogs are either given away or even put to sleep.
You can avoid these bad outcomes by learning the signs of this condition, and finding out what you need to do about it.
Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs with separation anxiety may show different levels of bad behavior. A dog with a mild case may pace around, pant, and over-groom himself.
A dog with a more severe case may bark frantically for hours, driving the neighbors crazy. He may display destructive dog behavior, tearing up whatever he can get a hold of. Your dog may urinate or defecate inappropriately in the house. He may go so far as to mutilate himself by chewing on his own tail, yanking out fur, and licking himself until he bleeds.
If you dread coming home because you don’t know what kind of mess is awaiting you, it’s time to take action to solve this problem.
Is Separation Anxiety Really The Problem, Or Is It Simply A Bored Dog?
Is your dog is bored, or does he really have a separation anxiety problem? Here’s how you can tell:
- Destructive dog behavior occurs only when you leave him alone. If he’s destroying things just to amuse himself, he’ll do it anytime, not just when he’s by himself.
- Your dog is “hyperattached” to you. He follows you around the house, wanting you to hold him all the time. This is flattering for the owner, but it’s not healthy for your dog to be this attached to you.
- He’s learned what you do when you leave, and he starts getting distressed before you go.
- He begins destructive behavior within 30 minutes of your leaving home.
- He tries to destroy barriers, like a door. A dog may go after the door he last saw you go out of.
- Your dog barks in repeated, high-pitched yips. This is reminiscent of a puppy’s distress call when he or she is separated from mom.
Your dog may not do all of these things, but if your dog is showing some of these behaviors, this shows his problem is not boredom.
Suggestions For Dealing With Dogs With Separation Anxiety
You may be surprised to learn that separation anxiety in canines is related to dominance issues. In a wild dog pack, the leader can leave. The others, however, never go away from the leader on their own.
If your dog thinks he’s the alpha dog, or pack leader, he’ll get very upset if you leave him, since you’re not supposed to do that. He thinks he’s responsible for you, and if you go away, something might happen to you. Many times, once you establish yourself as the pack leader, the separation anxiety goes away.
Your dog needs lots of exercise to use up all that energy he has. You should take your dog for a brisk walk twice a day. You need to understand that your dog instinctively knows that the pack leader goes first. He should be walking next to you or behind you, so that he’s following you, the pack leader. Allowing him to pull ahead of you on his leash is telling him that he’s the alpha male, not you.