Dealing With Separation Anxiety

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Sad dogs break our hearts and anxiety is such a hard thing to deal with. Like humans, a dog's anxious behavior can vary from the moderate to the extreme. Some dogs will bark and howl, while others have been known to destroy furniture and start going to the bathroom indoors. But if you're not home, what can you do?

  • Make sure it isn't medical. If your dog is urinating indoors or displaying extreme moody behavior, take the time to make sure it isn't a medical condition like a urinary tract infection or some other discomfort. Once you eliminate the possibility of something a veterinarian could treat, you can address your dog's behavior holistically.
  • Get out of the house a little more. Our four-legged friends get a lot of satisfaction out of exploring new environments. They have a basic need to smell and feel what's around them. Dogs that are cooped up too long indoors and in kennels often get what's called barrier frustration anxiety. In other words, they get bored and need to expend pent up energy. Who can't relate to that!?
    Common side effects are constant barking, chewing, whining, and hypertension which leads to aggression. If possible, take your dog for a walk before you leave the house, even if it's just to the end of the driveway to get the mail.
  • Give them something to do while you're gone. So maybe your dog just gets bored when left alone all day. I mean, who wouldn't? Give your dog some toys or some other stimulant. Try leaving some raw hide bones around or a durable chew toy that you can fill with a treat. This will keep your pooch occupied while you get through your daily routine.
  • Don't make it hard to say goodbye. Saying goodbye is hard to do, so try not to make a big deal about leaving. Don't speak, make eye contact, or give your dog any kind of stimulation that might signify that you'll be gone. More important, don't get your dog riled up before hitting the road. Many dogs pick up on queues like when you grab your keys or head for the door. Try doing these things a few times without actually leaving. When your dog finally realizes that the jangling of your keys or the turning of the doorknob doesn't necessarily mean you're leaving for a long time, everyone will be a lot more at ease.

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