Living with Separation Anxiety; My dog, not me!

A blog by Megan, RVT

Before I begin, you may be wondering, “What is Separation Anxiety?”

We can define separation anxiety in dogs as a behavior that shows itself through symptoms like excessive salivation, barking, whining, house soiling, destroying items in the home, scratching at walls, doors and floors, and attempting to escape from the crate, or room.

Couch disaster

What use to be my couch

Could you imagine your pet loving you so much that they eat the couch and have accidents in the house in your absence? This is Hank, and that is how much he loves me. Here is how I managed his behavioral concerns and what worked for Hank, my family, and our lifestyle.

Megan and Hank

Megan with Hank

The first step was figuring out Hank’s individual triggers; what makes him the most anxious. I set up my laptop to record what happened when I left. Does he immediately become a frantic mess, or does he start to pace, become bored and then become destructive over time? After that I set Hank up for success. If you know your dog is going to eat your shoes when you are gone, there is no one to blame but yourself when you come home to see a hole chewed into your favourite loafer.

hank cam

Hank demonstrating counter surfing

 

Being a lab, hank is full of energy. 

Throughout the week, I make sure I am doing my best to exhaust some of that energy, so when he’s left alone he thinks, “finally she is gone, I can sleep!” A tired pup is a behaved pup. When Hank is going to be alone for long periods of time, I give him a high reward treat such as a food puzzle or Kong toy. I also like to leave the radio on to give him noise throughout the day.

 

patient hank

Hank patiently waiting for Mom to come home

 

 

Other things to try.

There are nutraceuticals, diets and pharmaceuticals that may be an appropriate route for your pet. Ask your veterinarian what they feel is suitable for what you are going through. Daycare and daily dog walkers can also be beneficial for an energetic dog. I also advise introducing one thing at a time so you know that is working, and can eliminate what isn’t.

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