Have you ever had the misfortune of walking into your house to find overturned furniture, inches-deep claw gouges on door frames, blood-stained tooth marks on window sills, and countless messages on your answering machine from neighbors complaining about your dog barking and howling for hours on end in your absence? If so, you’re probably familiar with the term “separation anxiety” – a mild label for a devastating and destructive behavior.
Dogs are naturally inclined to become anxious when left alone. Many well-intentioned but misguided owners of new dogs inadvertently set the stage for SA by doing all the wrong things when they first bring their new dog home.
For example, lots of families adopt their new dog or puppy at the beginning of the summer, when the kids will be home to spend a lot of time with him. Other new-dog parents may take several days off from work, or at least arrange to bring the dog home on a Friday afternoon so they have the entire weekend to help the new kid settle in. On its face, this is a thoughtful approach to acclimating the dog to his new life. What better way to help him feel comfortable and welcome than to give him a couple of days of your loving company?
It’s true that spending extra time with the newcomer can help smooth the transition for him, but unless you take some important precautions, you could be setting him up for a rude awakening on Monday morning when you go back to work, leaving him alone all day to wonder and worry the pack is ever coming back to rescue him from solitary confinement.
For more details and advice on ways to prevent and cure canine separation anxiety, purchase Whole Dog Journal’s ebook, Separation Anxiety.