Anxiety comes in many forms.
Symptoms include: shaking, sweating, stomach ache, neausea, muscles locking up unexpectedly, irritablity, crying, self-isolating behaviors (In dogs this frequently manifests as hiding under things, and behind things), and obsessive-compulsive behaviors or nervous tics. You may see behaviors like:
- furniture destruction
- shoe destruction
- chronic digging
- barking/whining/ other vocalizations.
Separation Anxiety comes easily to dogs who’ve led lives in shelters and on the race-track. They were never alone. Even though they may have been alone, they were surrounded by the noise, people coming too an fro, and in the evenings, the silent breathing of the pack at night. And yes, dogs locked in cages still manage to make a pack psychology. They communicate on many levels we can’t see properly to understand.
So when your pup begins to exhibit separation anxiety – and they have a shelter history or a race-track kennel history – your first step is to reassure them that even though you may be out of sight, you’re fine. Keep in mind – rescues and strays have a particular level of loyalty to their new people. You’ve rescued them from an uncertain fate. And when you’re out of sight – they have worries… that maybe you’ve left them forever. Or maybe you’ll get hurt and won’t come back. If you’ve ever comforted a 4-5 year old who was worried about you not coming back for them, you already know what’s going on in your anxious puppy’s mind.
Now – there are a number of different tricks that might work for some dogs, and not for others, and sometimes the right trick is a group of techniques… it will require some work. But it is worth it – it is so worthwhile. And just like our human children, after months of consistency and effort on your part, the symptoms ease, and go away.
Know this: there is no ‘one’ right answer. Don’t let any charlatan sell you on the “My Method is the Only Method That Works for All Canines Because I Have A Bunch Of Letters After My Name”. That is patently untrue. We’re only begining to understand the extensive abilities of our canine friends. We’re only begining to understand the capacity of infants for communication. And with new studies and new technology, we’re understanding the brain – human, and canine – better and better each year.
So don’t let anyone dragoon you into putting all your faith into one method. For example – Your kid might learn to read differently than mine. Ultimately it doesn’t make a difference how they learn – as long as they learn. It’s the same situation with dogs who have separation anxiety. It’s the same way with fear for all creatures great and small. There are a few issues to tackle immediately when dealing with anxiety that can help you address the issue. The next few blog posts will be on these topics, so pick and choose what works best for you. And remember – I’m only an email away – if you have questions, call me – we can talk about different ways to solve your puppy’s problems.« Change your walks: Change their perceptions Getting to the heart of the matter: separation anxiety »
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