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Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Do you sometimes come home to a very excited dog and a bit of a mess? Perhaps Fido has a habit of getting into the trash or eating the couch cushions when left alone. If so, your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety. In this article, a Raleigh, NC vet discusses canine separation anxiety.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

Many times, the symptoms of separation anxiety are mistaken for simple bad doggy manners. If Fido has anxiety, he may destroy couch cushions, defecate inappropriately, or strew trash across the room. He may also dig or chew things. Dogs with separation anxiety often howl, bark, whine, or pace when left alone, and will sometimes even try to escape. Occasionally, Man’s Best Friend will engage in pica, which is the term for eating things that aren’t food.

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Canine separation anxiety is rooted in the fact that dogs are pack animals by nature. In the wild, dogs are always with their buddies, and are hardly ever alone. Your pet sees his human family as his pack mates, and can get very distressed when separated from them. Your pup may then channel that anxiety into bad behavior.

Treating Separation Anxiety

Fortunately, canine separation anxiety can be treated. You’ll want to consult your vet or a dog behaviorist for specific advice, as the treatment method that will work best will depend on the severity of Fido’s anxiety. However, there are some general rules of thumb to follow when dealing with separation anxiety. Avoid paying attention to your pet when you are coming or going: you could inadvertently make his anxiety worse. Instead, ignore him for a few minutes whenever you leave or arrive. It’s also very important to make sure that your dog has lots of toys to keep him occupied when you’re out, and is getting enough exercise.

What Not To Do

Never punish your pup for acting up in your absence, even if he destroyed your brand new throw pillow. Dogs don’t understand the concept of punishment, especially after the fact. Fido may not even associate his actions with your reaction, and could end up feeling scared, anxious, or confused. Ignore bad behavior, and focus on the positive by rewarding your pet for being good.

Do you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care? Contact us, your Raleigh, NC animal clinic, today!

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