Some dogs experience separation anxiety when they are away from their owners. They can exhibit dangerous and disruptive behavior at different levels. Some dogs may bark incessantly, go to the bathroom in the house, tear up furniture, scratch at doors and floors, or try and escape. However this condition is rare and most dogs have learned separation anxiety.
Learned separation anxiety is something a dog picks up through their owners behaviors. They may demonstrate some variation of anxiety symptoms but it is not actually a condition they can’t control. Like just about everything relating to dogs, they develop this behavior because they were not trained properly. Most dogs get bag habits from their owners enabling (which we are all at least a little guilty of). By rewarding what seems like innocent misbehavior it could lead to a much larger problem. For example, when your adorable pup comes over and hits you with his paw for some attention most of the time we give in and pet him. Or when your little dog barks by your feet because she wants to be help; most of the time we give in and pick her up just to keep her quiet. These little behaviors can get worse when you leave your pet home alone.
Your dog may bark non-stop when you are gone or tear up furniture because they are used to getting attention when they do that and you are home. This is learned destructive behavior that some people mistake as separation anxiety. That could be good news for you as it means the behavior can be corrected. It may take starting over with training your dog and crate training. Fixing those bad habits may take a lot of time and most importantly, consistency.
Some owners get pills from the vet that will relax the dog while they are away but that will only mask the issue. Teach your dog that when you leave and come home it’s nothing to get worked up about. We know it’s hard, we often say our 10 minute goodbyes to our pets before walking out the door. It’s best to leave and enter without making a fuss. When you come home only greet your dog when they are calm and obedient. If your dog is banging to get out of the crate leave them alone until they are in a relaxed state.
If you believe your dog suffers from severe separation anxiety it is necessary to consult a vet and a dog behaviorist. The behavior of a dog with this condition can be very dangerous to themselves and potentially others. Does your dog exhibit any of these behaviors? We would love to hear how you worked through the bad habits!