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Canine Separation Anxiety leads to the abandonment or euthanasia of many dogs, and to lifestyle sacrifices of many dog owners. It is a manageable, and often curable disorder.

The first part of solving the problem is understanding that the dog is not intentionally destructive, and the " sorry " look he gives when you return home is not " sorry " at all.

It is a survival instinct for dogs to be with their packs, and this appears to be the root of separation anxiety. Simply put, some dogs panic when left alone. It happens very quickly, usually within minutes of being left. They don't have a good concept of elapsed time. They have no reason to believe you are ever coming back. They may try to dig their way out of the house or yard, tearing apart woodwork, walls, rugs, and fences. They bark and howl. As the panic intensifies they may urinate and defecate. To relieve the anxiety they maybegin chewing things; furniture, cushions, shoes, books, anything. As fatigue sets in, the panic response subsides. Usually it's over within an hour of your leaving, although some dogs may vocalize for many hours. Some dogs will have a second go-round just prior to your arrival. Dogs have an excellent sense of time of day.

Part of the anxiety is trained. You come home and see the havoc that has been wrought in your home and you understandably become angry. So your dog panicked when you left.Now your dog is afraid of you when you come home. He assumes a submissive posture hoping you won’t attack him. He isn't sorry for what he did, he's afraid of what you'll do. And hedoesn't understand that the torn up cushion s why you're angry, not even if you show it to him. And he did that to the cushion when you first left, a seeming lifetime ago. He thinks you are going to beat him with it.

Your dog has learned your routine. Your alarm goes off, you hurry him out to do his stuff, you get ready, put on your good clothes, put on your shoes, jingle your keys and you leave. YOU LEAVE.

The quickest fix for this problem is simple- stop leaving. The next quickest is to bring your dog with you, everywhere and always. The rest of us have more work to do.

First, don't get mad. Your dog can't help it and getting mad makes the problem worse.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 41 - September 2018
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