Separation anxiety in your dog causes acute nervous distress.
It's triggered when your dog is separated from you... and can make Fido (and you) absolutely miserable.
Some puppies and dogs are just a bit anxious by nature - they might get scared during thunderstorms, be a little wary around strangers or unsettled by change.
This isn't terribly unusual and if your pet spends his time playing/napping while you're out, then he's probably just fine overall.
BUT if you own a dog who howls, whines, whimpers or barks whenever you're out of his sight, or not at home, then he's definitely letting you know that he's upset - but that doesn't necessarily mean that he has true separation anxiety.
Does your dog consistently act this way when you're gone?.....
If you answered "YES", to one or more of these questions, then yes it's possible that your dog truly is experiencing some separation anxiety.
But don't panic (Fido's already panicking, we don't need you to join him!), help is most definitely at hand.
I've put together a straightforward guide to recognizing and dealing with your pet's 'issues', so life for you and your anxious little furchild is about to get a whole lot easier!
Dogs are very social creatures, and are by nature pack animals.
When left alone, their natural instinct is to 'find' the rest of their pack (that's YOU), and Fido can get very agitated, restless, nervous or even panicked if he isn't able to do just that.
Separation anxiety in adult dogs is easier to prevent than it is to treat, and there are certain things you can do to help head off potential problems while your pup is still young. As with any habit or behavior, the longer your dog has had it, the longer it will take for him to overcome it.
Sadly, many, many dogs are euthanized or abandoned every year due to the destructive behavior and difficulties associated with dog separation anxiety. But that should never happen because you can help your pet overcome his fears with a bit of help, plus love, patience and time.
A study in the Applied Animal Behavior Sciences journal, found that around 14% of dogs seen by veterinarians for routine care, show some signs of separation anxiety.
This increases to a whopping 40% when you look at dogs who are being treated for behavioral problems.
True separation anxiety in your dog usually produces moderate or severe behavioral issues and your pup will be panicked, or even 'hysterical'.
Mild nervousness, upset or 'complaining' that settles down after some time alone is more likely to be a result of boredom or loneliness. It's just your dog letting you know he doesn't appreciate you leaving him at home!
Understanding how strongly Fido feels about being left alone will play a big role in how you treat his worries, and what steps you need to take to get him past his fears.
If your pet is naturally a bit nervous, it can be tricky to tell whether or not his problem is severe enough to need help. Here are some behaviors that might signal mean he has some separation anxiety issues......
If a dog is truly suffering from separation anxiety, he will usually show at least some of these signs in his everyday behavior.
Although it's not strictly possible to cure a dog of this type of anxiety,there are lots of ways to reduce and even eliminate his distress symptoms... and the problem behaviors it causes.
With time, love and patience you can teach your pup that he
needn't be afraid when you leave, and that you are always going to come
back home. Helping Fido feel safe in this knowledge will go a long way towards getting him to feel more relaxed in general.
My Dog Training For Separation Anxiety page explains some tried and true methods to reduce your pups' obsessive dependence and clinginess. These can also help him learn to relax and amuse himself when you're not home.
One tactic that often works very well is to use a dog relaxation cd or dvd to keep your pup calm, relaxed and entertained while you're away.
Studies and research have shown that a certain slow-tempo classical music can reduce anxiety in dogs by 70 - 80%. That's pretty significant!
You can find the best dog relaxation cd's and more on my Dog Relaxation CD page.
There are some excellent natural remedies that can help reduce anxiety in dogs (whether it's due to separation, noise anxiety, travel, vet visits or whatever).
Or maybe you want to try dog aromatherapy.
This might sound a little strange, but it works in the same way for dogs as it does for humans.
When you think about how sensitive a dog's nose is and how attuned his is to the scents of the world around him, it's not surprising that aromatherapy can be so effective.
Another scent-related product which is totally safe and very effective against anxiety of all sorts are canine pheromones.
There are a host of pheromone products on the market.
In our family we use them regularly for dogs or puppies who are anxious, stressed or fearful for any number of reasons:
Here are a few more safe and natural options that can help ease Fido's anxiety:
A Thundershirt looks like a dog coat, but it's actually a scientifically designed, and highly effective, 'wrap' that uses gentle, constant pressure to calm your dog's central nervous system.
This helps him
to relax and to feel safe and secure. It follows the same principle as swaddling a baby.
Recommended by thousands of dog owners, veterinarians and professional dog trainers, this is one of the simplest ways to relieve anxiety in dogs of all ages, sizes, breeds and temperaments.