Separation anxiety is a relatively common condition that affects dogs when they are separated from their owners. In most cases, the anxiety that your dog feels leads him to partake in inappropriate and even destructive behaviors making separation anxiety a serious concern for dog owners. If you regularly come home and find household objects destroyed, your garbage in tatters, or receive constant complaints from neighbors about barking and howling, there is a good chance your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
As pack animals, dogs have evolved to live in groups and they do not like to be alone. Most of the time, dogs will feel some separation anxiety, but we only become aware of a problem in extreme cases. Indeed, all dogs will be happy to see you when you return home. They greet you at the door with a wagging tail and possibly a few licks to the hand. While you were gone however, your dog probably felt lonely, which is basically a form of mild separation anxiety. Still, in more serious cases your dog will start to panic. He will cry and bark in an attempt to get you to return but when this fails he will turn to problem behaviors. Chewing books, shoes, and pillows or defecating in the house are all signs that your dog has severe separation anxiety.
Treating separation anxiety focuses on giving your dog the confidence to be alone. He needs to know that he is safe even when you are not home. Most veterinarians recommend careful training using behavioral modification techniques. You may even want to give your dog things to do when you’re not home. Interactive toys are a great way to keep your dog occupied when he’s alone so he won’t destroy the house. Nevertheless, if you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, speak to your veterinarian about a program to treat the problem.