Even though this school year may look and feel different from other school years, most kids are going back to school in some form or fashion. This is always a difficult time for family pets, particularly if kids spend a lot of time playing with their four-legged companions over the summer months as they can suffer from dog separation anxiety.
This year, with the extended summer break of several months, dogs may experience more significant separation anxiety. This may be compounded by Mom and Dad also returning to work or having to spend their time working from home rather than interacting with the dog.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Any breed or mix breed dog can develop separation anxiety. It is one of the most common behavioral problems in dogs, and it can occur at any age, particularly with dramatic changes in routine.
Separation anxiety is particularly difficult to address, as it only happens when the dog is left alone. Once the owners or the family leaves, the dog becomes distressed and turns to what humans label as destructive behavior.
This behavior can include chewing furniture, shredding upholstered items, excessive barking, urinating or defecating in the house, scratching and biting at doors or windows, or trying to escape from kennels, crates, or yards. In extreme cases, dogs may injure themselves in these attempts to get out and find their family. Some dogs may continually pace or run through the house, wearing paths in the rug and exhausting themselves on a daily basis.
Dogs that are adopted or rehomed, or dogs that have gone through a traumatic event in the puppyhood are more likely to develop separation anxiety. However, sudden changes in routine, such as a dog being left alone in the house after months of being in constant contact with the family, can also trigger this behavior.
What to Do
As mentioned above, separation anxiety is stressful for the dog and the owner. Often owners assume the destructive behavior is willful on the part of the dog or that the dog needs more exercise. Punishing a dog for behaviors that are caused by separation anxiety only makes the problem worse and breaks the trust bond between the dog and the person.
A better option is to utilize the services of a professional dog trainer. At DogiZone, Andrew Fraser, an experienced, certified, nationally recognized dog trainer, develops our dog training programs. We can work specifically on separation anxiety with your dog, while also providing the support you need to help your dog adjust to the new school schedule.
Ideally, early intervention when separation anxiety first comes to light is the most effective option in changing the behavior. Our trainers work one-on-one with you in your home to develop a personalized approach to keeping your dog calm, happy, and content – even when you are away.