November 14, 2012

Dog Separation Anxiety

We have all seen it; that one dog that just does not take well to being left behind. He jumps and yelps and barks and just generally annoys his pet parents. Sometimes these are little dogs while others they are very large. Size is not a factor. Our initial thoughts consist of chiding. How come this dog is so untrained? Or what can we do to fix this dog’s bad behavior? A surfeit of criticisms and concerns accost us as we watch this frantic dog freak out at the thought of his pet parents leaving.

What’s important to note, though, is that the dog may not be untrained, may not be a nuisance or annoyance. This dog may simply be suffering from dog separation anxiety. And why not? Humans suffer from anxiety disorders, so why can’t our pets? No matter how perfectly trained a dog is if he suffers from dog separation anxiety, then every time his pet parents leave, even if just from one room to another, he will exhibit the symptoms by barking, crying, scratching, digging, chewing, urinating, and/or defecating. These symptoms particularly exhibit themselves when the dog is left alone according to The Humane Society of the United States.

Pet parents can do a little sleuthing to figure out whether their pup is just misbehaving or seriously suffering from dog separation anxiety. They must watch their pets’ behaviors when they are present. If the pet constantly follows its owner, frantically and obsessively greets the owner, and reacts with excitement or anxiety at the mere presence of an owner’s departure, then the pet parent should look into treatment.

Just like with humans, different treatments exist for the different levels of dog separation anxiety. Pet owners can complete some of the treatments on their own while other treatments will require a vet’s expertise. WebMD’s pet section has great information on the treatments and options. Ultimately, though, pet parents should contact their veterinarians if they suspect that their dog suffers from any level of dog separation anxiety. People want that attention, so why not help out our dogs, too?

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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