Busting Bad Dog Behavior: Dealing with Separation Anxiety

Categories: Dogs, Busting Bad Behavior

A sad chocolate lab missing his owner

Back to school means fewer people in the house during the day, which could mean you have to leave man's best friend to guard the house. However, if your dog has separation anxiety, they might be the one your house needs guarding from.

Common symptoms of separation anxiety include pacing, urinating or defecating, barking, chewing, digging and other destructive behaviors, escaping, and coprophagia (consumption of excrement). If you think your dog might have separation anxiety, it may be a good idea to contact your veterinarian or a behavioral specialist for a proper diagnosis to rule out any other possible medical or behavioral problems.

If your dog has mild separation anxiety, you may be able to reduce or resolve the problem with counterconditioning. This is done by associating disliked objects or situations, in this case, being alone, with something good. Some easy ways to develop this kind of association is to leave your dog with a puzzle toy filled with food that will take time for your dog to eat. Some easy fillers include lowfat peanut butter or canned dog food. Some puzzle toys can even be frozen so it takes even longer for your dog to lick it clean. Be sure to remove these toys when you come home, so your dog only has access to them when alone.

If your dog is suffering from a more sever case of separation anxiety, schedule a time to talk to a professional so you can develop the best treatment plan for your dog.