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Separation Anxiety: How You Can Prevent It

PetSmart Banfield, The Pet Hospital®

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Separation anxiety in pets is caused by the stress and fear of being left alone. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the stress your pet experiences when you leave home. Learn how to spot separation anxiety symptoms and what you can do if your pet experiences it.

Common symptoms of separation anxiety:

  • Barking, whining or howling
  • Destructive behavior (chewing or digging)
  • Depression
  • Aggressive attempts to escape
  • Obsessively following Pet Parent
  • Trembling, panting or drooling
  • Self-mutilation, caused by excessive chewing or licking
  • Eliminating in the house

Once you have identified signs of separation anxiety in your pet, here are tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to help:

  • Adopt a low-key approach to goodbyes and hellos with your pet. If your home is a whirlwind of activity, move your pet to his own special place a half an hour or so before leaving so he isn’t tense when everyone is gone and he is alone.
  • Try playing the radio or leaving the television on when you are gone.
  • Be positive by rewarding good behavior with praise. Avoid acknowledging hyperactive greetings, jumping or pawing.
  • Prevent destructive behavior by keeping your pet in a crate or designated area when you are gone and provide safe and stimulating toys.
  • Practice leaving your pet alone for short periods of time when you are home. For example, leave him in one room while you are in another for a few minutes.
  • Take a basic obedience course with your pet, or work with a trainer who specializes in pet behavior.

Canine separation can be a hurdle for you and your pet, but together you can conquer his fears so he becomes a well-adjusted family member. Contact your veterinarian or Banfield doctor to help determine if your dog has separation anxiety and what treatments are available.

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