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When You Leave: What to do When Your Pup's Gone Punk

Thursday, April 19, 2007

When You Leave: What to do When Your Pup's Gone Punk by Falon Hanley

No bones about it- barking, chewing, and the occasional accident are expected when a young dog is left alone, but some pups seem to push the limits.

Have you come home to find that your dog has chewed your Reeboks to shreds or scratched the arm your favorite chair? Does this happen often and only when you aren't home to keep an eye on your out-of-control pooch?

For many dogs, an empty house is simply a license to cut loose and have some fun while their owners aren't there to lay down the law. However, some dogs may be exhibiting such behavior in reaction to feelings of abandonment and isolation. So before you write Fido off as a pup-gone-punk, pay closer attention. He may be experiencing a condition called separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is relatively common, especially among puppies who do not yet understand that goodbyes are not forever. It is a psychological condition in which a dog responds to the stress of being left alone by acting out in a destructive manner. The most common symptoms include chewing, continuous barking or howling, soiling (even if house-broken), or scratching at doors and windows in an attempt to get his owner to come back home. Such misbehavior occurs only when the dog is left alone.

If your dog is exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, there are several things you can do to correct the bad behavior of your problem pooch. Desensitization training is currently the most widely accepted method. This is the gradual process of adjusting a dog to being alone by practicing trial departures and short absences.

Start out by going through the motions of getting ready to leave. Grab your keys and put on your coat, open the front door and close it, but do not actually leave the house. Repeat this step until your dog no longer shows signs of stress. Next, leave the house and close the door. At first, the dog should only be left alone for 5 minutes at a time. Gradually increase the amount of time that you are gone as the dog becomes more comfortable with your short absences. Leave and return as quietly as possible to avoid overstimulating your dog. Once the dog is able to stay alone for two hours, he should be able to handle being left alone all day.

In addition to desensitization training, there are other ways you can help your dog learn to cope with your absence. For example, if you usually keep the T.V. on while you are at home, it may help to leave it on while you are away. Because the dog is used to the sound of the T.V., it will provide feelings of security and comfort when he is alone.

It is also important to make sure that your dog is well-exercised. Allow your dog to run for 20-100 minutes a day. Take him to the local park where he can run and play with other dogs. Dogs who exercise regularly are more likely to sleep contentedly when they are at home.

If it seems like no amount of training is helping, it might be necessary to speak to a veterinarian. Prescription drugs, such as clomicalm or amitryptalline, have been proven to help minimize the severity of the symptoms of separation anxiety in pets. A combination of medication and desensitization training might be just what your dog needs to overcome his anxiety.

Dogs are social animals who crave interaction with and attention from humans and other dogs. Remember, if your dog is tearing up the house while you’re away, he may be doing it because he misses you! With a little bit of patience and proper training, it can be a dog’s life for both you and your best friend!

Article Source: http://www.animalpetsandfriends.com

posted by Entalai
9:38 AM