Is Your Dog Distressed? It Could Have Separation Anxiety
It became more difficult for Jane to leave home every day.
Her golden retriever Molly would claw at her door after she headed out to work in the morning. Sometimes when Jane came home, she would find bite marks in the cushions of her couch or her pillows ripped to shreds. There were even days Jane would have to plug her nose when she came home because Molly would have accidents all over the house.
Turning the key to her front door would send Jane into a panic. Not only was she worried about the damage to her furniture and the interior of her new apartment, Molly’s howling as she shut the door was deafening. Jane felt guilty for leaving Molly alone. And, of course, she was concerned about what her new neighbors think of her with all the loud sounds and weird smells coming from her apartment.
Jane couldn’t understand why her best friend was acting this way, but what she didn’t know was that Molly wasn’t trying to cause trouble. The dog was suffering from separation anxiety and channeling her stress in destructive ways.
Separation anxiety in dogs is a fairly common condition, and there aren’t any known causes. It can be triggered by a traumatic event, a dog’s extreme attachment to its owner, or a life change. In Jane’s case, Molly’s condition may have been triggered by moving to new surroundings.
If your dog is exhibiting some of the same behaviors as Molly, proper training could be the cure. We’ll look at the top five signs of how to determine if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, and the benefits training offers both the dog and the owner.
What To Look For When Diagnosing Separation Anxiety
Per ASPCA.org, here are some common behaviors to look for to help owners recognize if their dog is undergoing separation anxiety:
Accidents and/or Coprophagia
If, like Jane, you are coming home to the smell of excrement or notice that your dog is eating its feces, this is a sign that your pet might be feeling nervous when you leave the house. But if this behavior also happens when you’re home, this might have more to do with lapses in his training than it does with the stress they feel when you’re away.
Barking and Howling
Your dog is supposed to bark when it detects a stranger approaching. But if your pet howls seemingly for no other reason than that you’re leaving, then you may have to do something about it before you find out first hand what your neighbors think about all the noise happening inside when you’re gone. This may be especially exacerbated if you’ve been cited by authorities due to your dog violation of local ordinances.
Chewing, Digging, and Destruction
Are you finding bite marks on your favorite chair? Much like Molly, some nervous dogs like to chew on anything from door frames, window sills, and pieces of furniture when their owner leaves for the day. If this behavior occurs when you’re together, then it could be a lack of training that’s causing these destructive actions.
Speaking of damaged door frames, this could be a sign that your dog is trying to make a break for it. When a dog is feeling anxious because their owner has left, they feel confined and will attempt to escape. However, if your pet is trying to flee the premises when you’re at home, then there could be some issues with training that may need to be resolved.
Walking Back and Forth
Do you walk back and forth when you are nervous? If your dog is stressed out, they are doing the same thing when you leave for the day, often in a straight line or a circular motion. But if this behavior happens a lot when you’re around, you might be able to rule out separation anxiety.
What about a crate?
These behaviors in your canine aren’t your fault, and some of them may go away with crate training. Dogs are den animals and need a safe space within your home that they can go to when they feel stressed. They need to properly learn a crate is a place they can go when you’re not there, but sometimes this can be difficult and exacerbate the behaviors in your dog, that are making you feel worried and anxious.
Why is proper separation anxiety training important?
Jane knew she couldn’t take Molly everywhere she went, so she looked into several options, including crate training. Despite some simple solutions that could help, self-training still seemed overwhelming to Jane, and she didn’t want to make Molly’s behavior worse. She also looked into antidepressants, but she didn’t want to medicate her golden retriever.
So Jane took Molly to a professional trainer. He was able to show Jane some methods at his training facility that helped Molly channel her stress and aggression at home that didn’t involve her furniture. Both Jane and Molly’s anxiety levels are down, and Jane no longer feels guilty about leaving Molly alone.
Separation Anxiety Training
If you want to strengthen the relationship between you and your dog, the experienced staff at Desert Sky K9 invite both of you to attend our comprehensive Dog Training Bootcamp. Our licensed and certified trainer Mark Govoni has over 27 years of experience and can help assess what your pet’s needs are and resolve separation anxiety issues. And we are so confident in our results for our clients, we provide lifetime handling lessons at no charge for all of our clients.
To schedule your free one-on-one meet and greet consultation with our award-winning trainer, please call us at 602-510-5877 or fill out our form. We’ll see you soon.