There are many things dogs do that remind us that they're more than just animals in our house. They are definitely a part of our families, and show us this with many of their behaviors. However, these behaviors aren't always positive ones.
Dogs are pack animals after all. They just want to be with their family, as they view them as their pack. Sometimes dogs behave so badly when we leave the house, we know they're upset that we're leaving. With ten to fifteen percent of dogs suffering from separation anxiety, you don't have to put up with a sad dog and destroyed house. Here are a number of things to try to help your dog adjust to the situation ... and save your house from being torn up in the process.
- Sometimes a dog's separation anxiety can be brought on by a sudden change in your family life. The death of another pet, a move, someone moving away. It really doesn't take much to disrupt a dog's life. If this behavior seems to come on suddenly, take a look at your family situation in and around your house, and see if there was a big change that your dog is reacting to. The dog is lonely, and doesn't understand the change.
- The first thing to remember is that you can't become angry with your dog. It will only confuse the process for them. They are reacting this way to tell you they miss you. Punishing them will have them thinking it's wrong to want to be with you. The anxiety will become worse than it was originally, as they begin to worry more, and you'll end up with a bigger problem than what you started with.
- One key thing you need to teach your dog is that you will come back. Once you leave that door, it won't be the last time he sees you. Practice "sit" and "stay" with your pet, and as you do this, move around to different places in the house. When you come back and find he has stayed put, give him a treat, a reward for realizing you would come back. Gradually increase this by leaving the house for a few minutes at a time, and eventually stretching it into even longer periods of time.
- You may also need to change your daily routine. Everyone has a grind they fall into, and the things we do before we leave the house are usually the same. Whether it be brush our hair right before we leave, grab our keys, or put on our shoes, dogs notice this. And after they notice your pattern, their anxiety begins. If you change up your routine, they won't realize you're leaving.
- Another idea is to leave your dog with something to occupy his time while you are gone, so he has something to do other than simply wait and become more anxious. Rawhides or a kong toy with food hidden in it are excellent distractions for a dog. He'll still miss you, but it will be much more bearable to him.
- There are also drugs that are made for dogs that have this separation anxiety if the above methods don't work. Ask your veterinarian about Clomicalm. It's not a tranquilizer, but a drug that calms the anxiety. The hope is that over time the dog will become more calm overall about the process, and you can gradually stop using it.
As owners, it can make us angry and frustrated when our dogs act out while we're away. It's very important to remember that they are only doing this because they love us and want to be with us. If you keep that in mind, it will help more than anything else.