Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety, the fear of isolation, can cause your dog to show undesirable behavior and stress. Common behavioral problems associated with separation anxiety include excessive barking and whining, property destruction, depression, or hyperactivity. These problems could be a reaction to the stress of being alone and the uncertainty of your return.

Many trainers use mock departures as an effective method for treating separation anxiety. Gradually adjust your dog to being alone by planning repeated, brief departures. Be sure to keep the first departures short, one or two minutes only, and slowly increase the duration of your departures as your dog gains confidence in your return.

Your dog will soon start to associate your picking up car keys or putting on shoes or your coat with you leaving. Pick up your keys and put on your shoes or coat often throughout the day, and your dog will soon stop associating these actions as a signal that you are about to leave.

Separation anxiety almost always occurs within the first 20 minutes after you leave a dog alone. Give a stuffed dog KONG to your dog about five minutes before you leave. Having a stuffed KONG to explore is an effective way of redirecting your dog’s attention away from your leaving and will absorb your pet during this crucial time. Remember, the most anxious time for a dog is the 20-minute period after you leave — and keeping his attention focused on a KONG can really ease his anxiety.

Also, remember to give your dog a stuffed KONG during the day when you do not intend to leave the house — as this will prevent your pet from associating it solely with your leaving.