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Separation anxiety is one of the most common afflications facing dogs and dog owners to date.  It is generally characterized as the dog exhibiting signs of emotional distress when being left alone or being apart from the owner.  A dog can display this signs when the owner is leave the apartment or when a friend holds the pups leash to go into a bodega or Duane Reade for a quick errand.

No dog is born with this afflication as it generally develops with the onset of a series of behavoirs, interactions and guilty feelings the owners may have about their dog being without them.  A common scenario we are seeing with city dwellers is an increase in working from home– which can set a dog up for seperation anxiety is when a work-from home owner/retiree/night time student/on-line college student brings home a puppy and never leaves the dog alone. From day 1.  This is not only an unrealistic scenario for the dog to be with the owner all the time, but an unhealthy and eventually a difficult to manage one.

While it is possible to get a shelter or adoptable dog that has separation anxiety, the chance of this is less likely and also can be easier to address. New owner. New home. New expectations.  Reduced chances of separation anxiety.

Practice Alone Time

In either case we recommend our clients regularly leave their pup alone in the home for short periods of time building up to 3-4 hours over the course of a few weeks.  Depending on your work situation or the dog may be left alone after the first weekend it is brought home. Be sure to establish an alone night time routine as many new dog owners experience nighttime bouts of insomnia with their pups where they wake up at 4 in the morning and won’t get back to sleep for at least a hour.

Don’t Feel Bad

The key managing the emotional component to this issue is not to feel guilty or bad about leaving the dog alone. When you feel this way about leaving your dog, the dog picks up on this and responds accordingly (crying, biting, scratching, whimpering, destroying toys) etc.

Give a Job, Get a Happy Dog

The intermittant remedy could be giving your dog a job (guard the home, keep the home cozy, play with the other pet).  Dogs love to have jobs. Some more than others. Research what your dog’s function is and see if you can find a job that caters to their natural proclivities.Remember to notice a job well done to your pup– no one likes to go unnoticed for good work!

A Leg Up: Aids that can Help

The aid of a thunder shirt, essential oil remedies or natural calming treats can also be of assistance.  Our recommendation for a maximum benefit for any aid in helping with separation anxiety is to introduce the treat or shirt when the dog is already in a calm/relaxed manner and NOT when the dog is displaying signs of separation anxiety.

What we think about Doggie Daycare

Whatever lifestyle you choose for your pup is entirely your perogative. We don’t want to tell anyone how to raise their furr child.  Most dogs that go to daycare during the week develop a calm temperament as adults and are confident around other dogs and strangers.  No stranger danger with doggie daycare regulars!  Using daycare as a bandaid solution to fear of getting kicked out of your lovely apartment can quickly become a long-term aid, which we like to caution against.  It never hurts to hire a repuative trainer, behavoirist or pet communicator to help gain more insight into your pup’s behavoir.

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