Pet Behaviorists May Help Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Golden retriever puppy in purse, portrait

(Picture Credit: Elizabeth Aldridge/Getty Images)

It’s so hard to spend time away from our dogs. Perhaps most—if not all—pet owners would probably say that they would bring their dogs with them everywhere if they could.

Some dogs don’t take well to being left alone. Maybe your dog becomes extremely nervous or acts out when you leave. This may no longer be a case of your pup missing you—it might be separation anxiety.

Like in people, dogs can experience distress when they’re in unfamiliar situations. Known as acute anxiety, some dogs can appear on edge around strangers and may appear unfriendly or unsociable. What people don’t know is that some dog breeds may be genetically predisposed to this condition.

According to veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta, up to 40 percent of dogs may suffer from separation anxiety. That’s why some owners resort to behaviorists to slowly rid their dogs of the condition.

Bonding And Touch Therapy Can Help

Some behaviorists use touch therapy to let the dog open up to their environment. It can help foster their comfort and sense of well-being.

If your dog has separation anxiety, it may not be your fault as the owner, so don’t let that get in the way of your bonding.

“A lot of dogs are born just like this. People blame themselves. They really blame themselves, like they must have done something wrong,” said Radosta in an interview.

Behavior training may not always be enough. Love and affection for your pooch adds another layer of therapy. The bond between dog and owner can be the difference in alleviating the stress they feel with this anxiety.

Stopping Separation Anxiety: What Can You Do?

If your dog suffers from mild separation anxiety, try counter-conditioning. It’s an old trick in the behavioral book wherein you associate a bad situation–such as your leaving the house–with a good outcome–like getting a treat. This technique usually works for mild cases of separation anxiety.

More severe anxiety requires more training, such as weaning your dog off your presence slowly. Try simple tricks, such as appearing to leave by getting your coat or bag and heading to the door but not stepping out of the house. These tricks usually require a slow progression, so when they become accustomed to one of your behaviors, it may be time to move forward to a new one.

Does your dog have separation anxiety? Do you think they need a pet behaviorist to help them out? Share your experience in the comments below!

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