Around 10% of dogs and puppies suffer from some level of separation anxiety, demonstrating symptoms if their owner leaves them alone for a period of time. Separation anxiety is the likely cause of behavioural problems that correlate directly with the time you are leaving or are away from your home.
Common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include excessive barking, whining, urinating, or destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture. Your dog may display symptoms while you are in the home, such as increased anxiety as you prepare to leave or even following you around at all times.
A dog who has never displayed such symptoms may begin suffering from separation anxiety after a sudden change of routine or a prolonged period with you at home. He may connect your absence with a traumatic event experienced while alone in the home. Sadly, rescue dogs often suffer from this condition.
Treatment of separation anxiety in your dog will vary depending on both the severity and the cause of your dog’s symptoms. In every case, however, you must first teach your dog that you will sometimes be apart. Make sure your dog is warm and comfortable while you are apart by providing fresh water and comfortable bedding. Ensure he has had plenty of exercise before you leave and give him toys to keep him stimulated while you are away. Leaving the radio on can be reassuring and comforting to a distressed dog, as can giving him a blanket infused with your scent.
With careful handling, the symptoms of separation anxiety can be reduced or eliminated over time.