Written by Ann Cathey
Does your dog freak out when you leave the house? Do you come home to chewed furniture and torn papers? Does he pee on the rug? Does she howl and bark when she hears you coming into the driveway? Do your neighbors complain about incessant barking while you are away from home? These are all signs of possible separation anxiety in your pet.
Start with a trip to the vet. You want to be sure there are no underlying physical issues that may be causing your pet to act out. A kidney or bladder issue can cause your dog to urinate in the house, when he’s usually really good about waiting to go outside. Nutritional issues can make a dog take up chewing, his body instinctively searching for things that are missing in his diet.
Dogs need both the calm moments and the active moments in life, just as you do. They need physical and mental stimulation not only for their general health, but to help treat behavioral issues. Enrichment of your dog’s day to day life with exercise (going for a walk), play (chasing a ball or Frisbee), socialization (friendly encounters with people and other animals), and lots of affection can offset a number of behavioral issues as well as separation anxiety. Just as with humans, proper exercise and social interaction can help to reduce stress and lead to a longer, happier life for your pet.
An additional bonus to keeping your dog busy is that it will wear him out. A tired dog who is at home alone is much less likely to get into trouble than one who is full of energy.
Having a canine friend in your live means a lot of work on your part, but it can be truly rewarding. With time and patience, you and your furry friend can overcome the potential adversity of anxiety issues, and live happily together for years.