Separation anxiety is a behavior condition that causes dogs to feel anxiety and express problematic behaviors when left alone. It can not only be frustrating to owners but also potentially dangerous for dogs. When dogs are anxious and nervous about being separated from owners, they can act out in ways that can cause physical harm to themselves and their surroundings. Treatment of canine anxiety and phobias can be very complicated and is not a quick-fix. Depending on the severity of the condition, a combination of training methods and medication may be used. Recognizing that your dog has anxiety or fear issues is the first step.
What are the Signs of a Dog with Separation Anxiety?
- Excessive drooling
- Urinating and/or defecating inside the house
- Barking, Howling, or Whining
- Scratching at the door, wall, or floor
- Destructive chewing and digging behaviors
What Causes Separation Anxiety?
Change of Schedule: Similar to humans, dogs are creatures of habit. When that routine and habit cycle is changed abruptly it can cause unease and distress. When or how long a dog is left alone can trigger separation anxiety.
Moving: Moving into a new house, apartment or residence is a common trigger of separation anxiety due to the unfamiliar surroundings.
Change of Family: If your dog comes from a shelter or a previous home, suddenly entering into your family can trigger the development of separation anxiety. This may also be triggered by the sudden absence of a current household member such as moving away, long military deployment or trips, or death.
Mild to moderate cases of separation anxiety may be treated with counterconditioning or desensitization training programs. These techniques often use a wide combination of toys, foods, crate training, short trips away, positive reinforcements, or verbal cues. These training methods take time and patience and may require the assistance of trainer or animal behaviorist to achieve the best results. More severe cases may require medication to effectively treat. It is best to talk to your dog’s veterinarian for the best combination of training and medication.
Reconcile, fluoxetine, is a prescription serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medication. This chewable tablet works by affecting serotonin levels in the brain that may be unbalanced in dogs with certain behavior and cognitive disorders. Reconcile is prescribed to treat separation anxiety, and help relieve behavioral symptoms when used with training.
Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety? Have you used any training methods to help? Leave us a comment below!