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Separation Anxiety September

The summer holidays are over. The kids are back to school and we have finished our vacations. Most of us are back to work and are out of the house for many hours, leaving our dogs home alone. This is something that they have not been accustomed to over the past few months.

For many dogs, this change in schedule from summer routine may be quite stressful. They can exhibit destructive and /or disruptive behaviours such as chewing at walls, doorways, kennels as well as barking, howling, inappropriate urination and bowel movements. Some dogs will take excessive measures to try to escape – chew through a wall, doorknob, kennel doors and may even break through a screen or window.

If these behaviours are anxiety based they typically don’t occur when you are there and are usually associated with a combination of other behaviours such as panting, pacing, whining and agitation.

Often you can change a dog’s mindset to enjoy or at least tolerate being alone if separation anxiety is recognized early and the behaviour is mild. If they associate being alone with something positive, for example, a kong toy filled with canned dog food, or a yummy safe alternative, and allow him to have it only when alone he will look forward to having his special treat and being alone.

In more severe cases, a more complicated desensitization program will need to be initiated. Sometimes medications need to be used to help facilitate the learning process.

If you have any questions about your dog’s health including mental health please contact us. We are here to help.

Written by Rob Doucette, DVM

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