chewing and house soiling are usually signs of boredom and are often seen
in dogs who are too young to be responsible for their actions in their
owner's absence. This handout is designed to address a different problem
- separation anxiety.
photo courtesty Bea Wachter
Separation anxiety can best be described as extreme distress in the owner's absence.
Bossy dogs who demand to be close to their owners may throw "temper tantrums" barking excessively, rushing about the house and chewing inappropriate items. Bored dogs may dismantle whole couches just for something to do. This is not separation anxiety.
co-dependent dog worries and frets, pacing, whining, panting, even drooling.
It may urinate and deficate and possibly vomit. Both personality types may seek
out items that belong specifically to the owner, not to "get back at you" for
leaving them, but because the items smell the most like you: your favorite book,
the TV remote, or the arm of the chair where you rest your hand each night.
They may tear up carpets or linoleum, especially at doorways, and may tear down
curtains trying to get to the window to watch for your return.
William Campbell describes the scenario:
"Consider the new puppy whose owners come home at regular times and join in an ecstatically joyful greeting ceremony. This imagery is quickly ingrained, and the pup begins to anticipate the experience ... However, as will happen in even the most well regulated household, one day the owner is late. The puppy begins experiencing the images of his tardy owners ... starts fretting, pacing. Well primed energies, ready for the greeting ceremony, demand an outlet as the adrenaline starts pumping.
photo courtesty Bea Wachter
What's going on in its mind's eye or ear? It probably imagines hearing footsteps, perhaps even sees the door open... which doesn't happen. But it should. This introduces conflict between what it wants and expects and what is really happening.
Conflict creates frustration. Frustration produces anxiety, which triggers an even greater adrenaline rush. The pup searches for something real to satisfy its desire to 'experience' the owner ... a magazine or book it saw the owner reading recently. It is rich with the owner's scent. If it cannot have the owner there, it can at least have their genuine odor or taste. So it sniffs, tastes, maybe even swallows parts of the article. Naturally, this does not fully substitute for the whole owner, so the puppy's social appetite is not really satisfied.
Finally, here comes the owner. The puppy innocently launches into its joyous, semi-hysterical ritual. The owner starts to join in, but spies the pulverized magazine or book. What's this? Naturally, if not wisely, the owner angrily grabs the pup, drags it to the demolished object and scolds it, or slaps it's snout or rump, or both. The pet's single-track mind is riveted on the owner. It yips, rolls over, or struggles vainly to escape. Punishment concluded, the owner angrily picks up the remnants of the article and storms to the trash basket."
clingy dog needs to learn "how to be alone."
Dogs who can't bear it when you leave, can't bear to be away from you when you're home either. The demanding dog barks bossily if a door is closed with you on the other side. The clingy dog frets and whines. Before either of these dogs can accept being left alone while you're away, they must learn to be separated from you while you're home.
Decrease the co-dependency by paying less attention to the dog. Do not look at, talk to, or touch the dog in response to nudging, leaning or pawing. Be aware of those times when your dog is seeking contant contact, leaning on your leg or lying under the table at your feet. You might sit in a chair with your feet tucked up so he can't touch you, to provide some beginnings of "you really can be in the room without touching me."
up baby gates: barriers so the dog can see you but can't go with you while you
work in the kitchen or fold laundry in the family room. Ignore any fussing.
To acknowledge it is to reward it - it was attention he wanted, and bad attention
is better than no attention at all. He must learn to accept and feel comfortable
with the separation.
Give him a bed of his own - across the room. For some dogs a crate is a perfect solution. For severe stress cases (drooling/vomiting when shut away from the owner) start with the dog in the crate next to you, and when the dog is comfortable while close, gradually, day-by-day increase the distance. Practice crating daily -while you're home/at night while you sleep.
The dog should not sleep in your bed. In his crate he can still smell you and hear you breathing, but will sleep apart from you and can't sneak onto the bed in the middle of the night. If possible, the dog should eventually sleep outside your room. If the dog seems to be especially dependent on one family member, let another family member take over feeding, walking and special games - but don't over-do it! The idea is not to transfer the dependency to another person!
SOME TIPS WHEN LEAVING:
MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF LEAVING OR CORRECT THE DOG WHEN YOU RETURN.
To do so only increases stress - and stress is the reason for the behavior. Anxiety and tension builds because each day the owner's return is unpleasant. Sad goodbyes or verbal warnings can leave the dog in a state of stress, setting the stage for destructive behavior.
information on Separation Anxiety:
An interesting article -click HERE.
The DAP diffuser - Female dogs secrete pheromones that comfort and reassure their nursing puppies. These "appeasement" pheromones have the same calming effect on adult dogs. D.A.P. mimics these appeasement pheromones to reduce or eliminate stress in dogs of all ages.
on the effectiveness of the DAP diffuser.
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy can also help settle nerves.
I'll Be Home Soon
by Patricia McConnell
Dogs Home Alone
by Roger Abrantes
order these books and more through <click here
This handout may be reprinted in its entirety for distribution free of charge and with full credit given:
© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People -
ditr_training @ hotmail.com - http://www.diamondsintheruff.com