Q:

How do you deal with a dog that has separation anxiety?

A:

Quick Answer

When a dog has separation anxiety, reduce how long the dog is alone and gradually increase this amount of time, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The organization also recommends teaching dogs that predeparture clues do not always mean the owner is leaving and to rule out other issues with the veterinarian.

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Full Answer

For minor separation anxiety, stop making a big deal about leaving or coming home, notes The Humane Society of the United States. This causes the dog to get anxious during arrivals and departures. Ignore the dog while leaving and coming home to stop this habit. Keep a familiar item that smells like the owner with the dog when leaving and have a word to tell the dog every time the owner leaves that reminds it the owner will return.

For dogs that have moderate or severe anxiety when the owner leaves, only leave for a short period of time at first, explains the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This keeps the anxiety level low. The gradual increase of the length of time starts getting the dog used to the routine. Desensitizing the dog to leaving is difficult with a high level of separation anxiety, but it is an important method.

The first step of this process involves changing the way the dog handles predeparture clues, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Dogs get to know the routine of a person getting dressed and grabbing a wallet or purse before leaving. Before leaving, the dog is already experiencing anxiety. Avoid this by doing these things without leaving the house, which eventually causes the dog to realize it does not always mean the owner is leaving.

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