Separation Anxiety: Calm Your Dog's Destructive Behavior When Left Alone

Many times, medication prescribed by a veterinarian improves a dog's ability to stay panic-free and is a helpful addition to training. The specific regimen will depend on the veterinarian's recommendation.

The management of anxiety-provoking situations is also important in helping a dog succeed. Every time the dog experiences separation, her anxiety may be strengthened and reinforced. Until her tolerance can be built to a point of accepting separation or medication is at a level where she can stay relaxed, management tactics are needed to prevent the dog from being alone for too long. Doggy day care, housesitting or even taking the dog in the car on errands (depending on the weather) are examples of strategies for preventing panic.

A Camera: Gathering Evidence

Setting up a camera while you're away can help you evaluate and monitor your dog's distress when left alone. A video offers evidence that allows you and a behavior professional to pinpoint a problem and assess whether treatment is working. It shows a dog's stress level at separation and the specifics of her anxiety, such as becoming stressed after 30 minutes of being alone. Taping also can capture oddities such as panic related to a sound that occurs around a particular time or on a particular day, such as when a neighbor does woodworking or the garbage truck arrives. Noise anxiety can cause panic that mimics separation anxiety.

Dogs with separation anxiety are in many cases capable of significant improvement or a complete turnaround if they are given proper training and management and possibly medication. I would consider the door-clawing behavior described here as a major red flag, and take all the necessary steps toward helping the dog by working with a recommended professional in the most timely manner possible.

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