Separation anxiety is a challenge familiar to many of us and our pooches. Here are the top 3 things I’ve learned about helping your dog work through separation anxiety:
1) All dogs are different, and there are many ways to help with anxiety. Just like humans, different dogs have varied symptoms of anxiety (destruction, barking, drooling, crying) and different ways to help them (natural medication, calming phermones, pharmaceuticals, behavioral modification, pressure). I really like this article as a great summary.
2) Dogs who have separation anxiety may change their behavior over time. As I have tried various methods above for helping with anxiety, my dog and foster dogs have adapated to those changes. For example, I stopped crating my beagle when she dug through the bottom of the crate, through the carpet, and through the carpet pad. She still howls when I come home, but doesn’t howl as much after I leave because I always leave her with a good treat. We need to adjust the way we address anxiety over time as well.
3) Ask other humans for help! The folks who volunteer with Triangle Beagle Rescue have many dogs and many years worth of experience in addressing dog behavior. Especially dogs who have had major changes in their lives in the course of being rescued, fostered, and adopted, will surprise us with their behavior. We have a great yahoo group list serv where you can ask questions of our volunteers and Board. While we know separation anxiety is hard for our dog, it is also hard to hear our dogs be stressed out, so get support from other people including your vet, a trainer or behaviorist.
Kelli is a volunteer with TBR. While not an expert on separation anxiety, she has fostered three dogs along with her own beagle who have all had varied levels of anxiety while in her care.