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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Determining if a dog has Separation Anxiety

I'm pretty sure one of our dogs suffers from dog separation anxiety. Either that or he is just a lunatic. First, he's a spring spaniel /lab mix. He's almost 8 years old and hasn't settled down. He's a male and we thought getting him fixed would help take some wind out of his sails. Yeah, that was 6 years ago and he's still going strong. His name is Scout. He constantly whines when inside, especially if the kids are around. The problem is that he's an 80 pound goofball while our kids are 4 years old and 17 months. He's too goofy to play with them. Add in the fact that he has randomly used the bathroom in the house when we've let him roam around and you can see why he doesn't get a lot of time out of the laundry area. The whining is high pitched and hard to take for extended periods of time. I'm trying to use some of the Sit Stay Fetch methods and they slowly seem to be working. I'll keep everyone updated on how it goes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Separation anxiety in dogs can often masquerade as other problems and is likely overlooked when trying to rectify dog behavior problems. Dog separation anxiety might cause dogs to express their anxiety in forms that don’t lead to a direct correlation to the anxiety. For instance, dog separation anxiety may cause the dog to whine or scratch when outside because they want to come back in and be with their owner. The owner might think the dog is just being annoying and discipline the dog. This sends a mixed message to the dog as they are happy to be back with their owner, but are being disciplined for reasons the dog might not understand.

Sometimes a dog owner needs to take a step back and discover what the root cause of the dog’s behavior is. Is the dog not feeling well? Is the weather bad outside? Has the owner been away for a long period of time? All of these factors could contribute to the dog wanting to come inside. Since the dog can’t tell the owner why they wanted to come back inside, the owner needs to do more than just be irritated by the dog’s behavior. Separation anxiety in dogs can manifest itself in various forms including whining, barking, scratching at barriers between the dog and owner, and destructive behavior. Have you ever left a dog inside alone and come back to find the house destroyed? That’s not the dog being bad, that’s their way of expressing their separation anxiety. A sufferer of dog separation anxiety can’t just say “I miss you” or “Please don’t leave”. The dog will whine or act nervous when the owner is getting ready to leave or has been gone for an extended period of time. It’s up to the owner to identify the causes of the dog’s separation anxiety and take steps to eliminate the anxiety as much as possible. Separation anxiety is not common with all dogs, although it may exist in less noticeable way in some dogs. Some high-strung dogs like Jack Russell Terriers or Springer Spaniels are more like to suffer from dog separation anxiety than other breeds of dogs.

One good way to treat dog separation anxiety is to leave a TV or radio on during the day while the owner is away. If a radio is used, make sure the station plays relaxing music. This should help the dog relax some. Other suggestions include leaving for short periods of time and then coming back. Also, the owner should not make a big production about entering or leaving the house. This only enhances the dog’s separation anxiety.

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Editor's Note

Sit Stay Fetch has other excellent tips on how to treat dog separation anxiety without using medicine or corrective equipment. If the techniques in the book aren't enough, Daniel Stevens, the author is available for email consultations to help resolve Dog Separation Anxiety problems.

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Dog Separation Anxiety can be an unnerving problem for dog owners if left unchecked. Since the dog cannot communicate directly with the owner, it is up to the owner to identify and treat the dog separation anxiety and help their pet feel secure when alone. The amount of time and effort this will take varies by dog, but once the separation anxiety has been treated effectively, the owner may find that some of the dog’s other behavior issues have disappeared as well.