As a Miami dog trainer, I have seen dogs tear down drywall, destroy furniture and rip up carpeting when their dog owners are not home. We think it’s because our dog is lonely and misses us. Actually, it’s because your dog’s natural instinct is to protect you and when you’re not home he can’t do his job. Other times it does result from boredom, particularly a dog who is left alone with nothing to do for too long.
It is true that dogs by nature are social creatures and they like to be where the action and people are. However, some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and can cause them to howl and bark endlessly when you are gone. Some even engage in destructive behaviors. Some dogs even poop the minute they see their pet parent leave even though they are normally house trained.
Dog separation anxiety usually results from:
The key to any condition like separation anxiety is you need to establish yourself as the pack leader. Your dog needs to know it is your job to protect him and not the other way around. It is also your responsibility to establish the rules and boundaries.
A dog that is anxious will often worry that it is his job to be leader of the pack. If you’re not there and within his sight, how can he keep you safe? Most dogs don’t have the personality to be pack leaders, but they feel a responsibility to do so.
A true canine pack leader, however, is free to come and go as he pleases because he is capable enough to assess whether leaving is safe for him and the pack. Therefore, the pack does not worry when he is away.
Separation anxiety can be moderate or severe or anywhere in between. If it is mild, you can try:
If your dog suffers from severe separation anxiety, you will need to call a dog trainer or you will tear your hair out trying to overcome it. I will put you through a series of exercises and practice sessions:
You should never punish your dog for his separation anxiety driven behaviors as this could further break down the dog’s ability to recover from the stress of the being left alone. Living with a dog and treating a dog with moderate to severe separation anxiety will require diligent training compliance and a great deal of patience.
If you need help with separation anxiety, call me – Luis Escobar – or email me. I’ll be happy to help you and your dog overcome this distressing behavior.