Shelter dogs and separation anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Separation anxiety is a dog's response to the traumatic event of being separated from a previous owner or being kept in a shelter. Separation anxiety is easy to spot. The dog will probably follow its owner from room to room when they are home and then as soon as the owner leaves destructive behaviors will follow. The destructive behaviors could include:
- Digging and scratching at doors or windows in attempt to reunite with the owner
- Destructive chewing
- Howling, barking and whining
- House soiling
This behavior can be frustrating, but there are steps that can be taken to calm a dog of its separation anxiety.
Coming and Going
When you come home or when you leave don't make a big deal of it. Don't react to your dogs feverish excitement when you first walk in the door and don't react to your dogs solemn behavior when you leave. Ignore your dog for the first few minutes when you come home, then calmly pet your dog.
Something to Remember You by
Your dog is having these anxiety attacks because they're missing you. If you leave your dog with an old T-shirt or a pair of socks that you have just worn, it could have a tranquilizing effect on your dog. They smell you, they remember you and it seems that you're right there.
Ensuring Your Return
Your dog's anxiety can be calmed by coming up with a word or cue that would tell the dog you're coming back. You could always leave the radio on or say “be a good boy” as you leave. If you keep doing the same action every time you leave, then always return, the dog will know that those actions or words means you will be back.
If none of these seem to be working you could look into a doggie day care or leave your dog with a friend or family member while you're away. Just never punish your dog for anxiety behavior. Punishing won't help. Your dog's destruction and house soiling is not your dog seeking revenge on you for you leaving, it's just the dogs initial response to the anxiety.