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Separation anxiety for animals and owners

Are you worried that your dog’s cries might represent more than just a minor sulk? Does your beloved canine take things to the next level, with intense howling or repetitive barking? Have you come home to find your carpet, shoes or door partially destroyed?dog separation anxiety

It’s normal for your pet to miss you when you’re away, especially if they’ve spent some time in boarding kennels. After all, a dog isn’t described as “man’s best friend” for nothing. But when missing turns into separation anxiety, you have a much more serious problem on your hands – for both your animal and you.

How can you recognise separation anxiety?

One of the most loveable aspects of dogs is their willingness to display their emotions. Just as you can be sure that a wagging tail is a demonstration of happiness, you can rest assured that disturbing behaviours indicate suffering. The main thing to watch out for is excessive behaviour. For example, it’s normal for a dog to salivate every now and again, but if he/she is drooling like crazy, chances are separation anxiety is to blame. The same goes for extreme barking, howling, chewing household objects, scratching doors, going to the toilet inside and frenzied pacing.

What can you do?

The good news is you can help. Next time you’re going away and have to put your pet in boarding, try these tips.

For a start, try the exhaustion method. Like a human, a dog feels better the more they get that body moving. So, take them for a really, really long and vigorous run.

Second of all, teach your dog that separating from you can have its benefits. When you go away, provide some enjoyable rewards. Leave a trail of delicious treats all over the house. Buy some new toys. Make sure that everything your dog loves – like favourite balls and bedding – are readily available. That way, they’ll start to associate separation with some positive experiences. The sooner you start this the better, so, if you have a puppy, don’t wait.

If neither of these strategies works, it might be time to look into medication. These days, there are loads of options, from herbal remedies to pharmaceuticals. Seek advice from your vet and experiment until you find something that works.

Have patience

The longer your dog has suffered from separation anxiety, the longer it’ll take to change. So don’t expect amazing results overnight. Think of it as a long-term project. You’ll need time – and patience.

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