DISCONNECTED & DISTRESSED DOGS
With so many owners returning to work outside of the house these days our furry family members are experiencing separation anxiety at alarming rates. So what should we be on the lookout for before just slapping the label of "Separation Anxiety" on our dogs? Below is a list of common behaviors that can be indicative of this disorder but no one singular sign/symptom defines Separation Anxiety; one needs to look at the whole picture. Unfortunately, these are often reasons people relinquish their dogs to shelters.
Anxious behaviors including whining, pacing, or quivering while you're' gone or as you get ready to leave
Extreme barking or howling
Destructive behavior, for instance, digging or chewing especially around doors or windows
Accidents like peeing or pooping in the house
Extreme drooling, panting, or salivation
Distraught and ongoing efforts to escape confinement, possibly ending in grave injury
What can cause Separation Anxiety is not always cut and dry but can involve a variety of precursors including being left alone and traumatic separation, or even a single traumatic event when left alone in the house (for example someone trying to rob the house). Personality can come into play such as with a clingy dog being more prone to Separation Anxiety, also life changes like moving or divorce can bring on this anxiety.
Even lack of daily exercise can contribute here.
So what can be done in situations where you think your dog has Separation Anxiety issues? Best is a combination of prevention and proactive intervention immediately when the symptoms are observed.
Five possible options include:
DESENSITIZATION and COUNTER CONDITIONING
ENCOURAGING INDEPENDENT PLAY AND AVOID CLINGINESS
MEDICATION AND NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS
Separation anxiety isn't always preventable and is hard to treat once it takes hold but have faith and contact an animal behaviorist (ask your Vet for a recommendation) and the outcome can be quite favorable for your pup. Good Luck!