Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coping with canine separation anxiety

Liam gets through his canine separation anxiety with dog toys
I have the luxury of working from home most days. This means that Liam is within 1 foot of me for the vast majority of the day, and he tries to keep me within sight at all times.

Normally, you would think that this is an ideal situation for a dog. But it can lead to problems.

For the past few days, an assignment has taken me out of the house for the afternoons. I've left Liam in his accustomed space with his toys, beds and treats, but he howls as I leave and acts as though I've been resurrected from the dead when I return home.

I believe we're experiencing the beginning of separation anxiety.

Dogs with this condition become extremely stressed and fretful when left alone. They may cry and throw themselves at the door, or they may show extreme signs such as breaking down doors and windows to escape.

There are many, many resources on the web full of advice on how to deal with the problem. Most of them simply don't apply to me.

The best way I can correct this problem is to start going to work at an office full time, and I'm not planning on doing that anytime soon. One mistake I am making, however, is being excited to see Liam when I return home. Instead, I should be acting as though my return home is unremarkable and business as usual. I'm starting that now.

As I stated before, there are many websites full of advice on this issue. Here are two links for your perusal, one from ABC News and one from the Humane Society of the United States. As you'll see, some of the advice is contradictory.

My advice? If your dog has separation anxiety, it's best to hire a trainer who can customize a treatment plan specifically for you and your dog. This way, you'll get tips you can actually use, made just for you.