One of the most common complaints of new pet parents is that their new dog is disruptive or destructive when left alone. This is common feedback SOS hears from recent adopters, as being transferred to a new guardian or family can trigger the development of separation anxiety.
Working with a skilled professional trainer or behaviorist may prove to be helpful. Anti-anxiety medications could also be helpful, depending upon the severity of the situation, but they should always be used in combination with behavior modification. Long story short, there is no “quick fix”. You have committed to caring for another living creature for the next 10-15 years; a transition period and some training should be expected. If you are prepared to make some changes, put in some work and be patient and give it time, we are confident you will see progress.
Some examples of changes that might be necessary:
- increase exercise
- increase mental stimulation
- work on basic training/obedience; increase structure
- desensitization & counter-conditioning
- schedule change
- new crate/supplies
- use support services
- work with a professional
- anti-anxiety medications
Below are some links that we have gathered to help our adopters understand this condition, and possible ways to address.
- Common Dog Behavior Issues; Separation Anxiety, ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care
- Separation Anxiety Part II-Counter Conditioning, Doglifetraining.com: http://doglifetraining.com/20
- Maddie Shelter Medicine Program, Cornell University: http://www.sheltermedicine.ve
- The Latest on Separation Anxiety, Integrative Veterinary Care: http://ivcjournal.com/1099/
While this condition can be very stressful for all involved, please know that this is a common condition, and most dogs overcome this anxiety within several months with the right changes.