When left alone, some dogs become very distressed, suffering from an attachment disorder known as separation anxiety. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety just can’t learn to cope with being alone, and they express their anxiety by barking, howling, whining, chewing, soiling, and/or attempting to escape. Usually, you can diagnose separation anxiety if the dog becomes anxious and worried or severely depressed as you prepare to leave and acts as though you’ve been gone for years when you return! Separation anxiety is often triggered by a traumatic event or disruption in the dog’s lifestyle, such as a change in the family’s work schedule, an adjustment in the family composition, the death of another pet, a move to a new home, abandonment as a pup, or being boarded or hospitalized for a period of time. Purebreds are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety than mixed breeds, and adult dogs who have been re-homed are especially at risk. What to do if your Dog has Separation Anxiety: - Whenever you are getting ready to leave the house, make your routine less predictive and obvious. You can ignore the dog and /or practice obedience behaviors, such as “Sit” and “Down Stay,” - Leave you dog a special treat. When you leave the house, give your dog a special treat or toy that they only get when you’re gone. That way they can get excited about something. (Try stuffing a Kong with peanut butter).Keep your departures and arrivals low key so the dog doesn’t associate comings and goings with arousal and stress. (Avoid coddling when you leave – and wait about 5 minuets before greeting your dog when you get back). Practice short absences and gradually build up the time you are gone. Use reward-based training, practice out-of-sight “Sit” and “Down Stays” around the house so you can be in one room and the dog in another. When not training the dog and, until you have the problem resolved, arrange for someone to be with the dog at all times when you are away. Teach the dog mannerly ways to gain your attention, such as “Sit,” “Down,” and “Bring a toy.” If your dog has learned to gain your attention when you’re home by barking, pawing, and mouthing, then it should come as no surprise that your dog has temper tantrums when you’re away. Give your dog plenty of physical exercise before leaving your dog for lengthy periods of time, especially if you leave first thing in the morning. - Try leaving music or the TV on when you leave. White noise can distract your dog from listening for your car or footsteps to return. - Look into Crate training your dog. Being in a confined space (den) will help them feel more safe and relaxed. Read about appropriate ways to crate train your dog first). What NOT to do if your Dog has Separation Anxiety: - Do not confuse your dog’s anxiety with revenge, spite, or dominance. Your dog is genuinely upset and distressed and needs your help. Punishment will only exacerbate the dog’s anxiety. Do not continue to confine your dog to a crate or room if the dog is injuring himself trying to escape. Do not attempt to reduce your dog’s attachment to you by constantly ignoring him. Some experts believe that “breaking the bond” will fix separation anxiety. This can actually make the dog become even more desperate for your affections. If done repeatedly, this approach can even be inhumane—because canines so need social contact.