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Articles by natural health author Luella May

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Helping Your Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety

by Luella May

(The Best Years in Life) Virtually anyone who has ever had a dog will tell you that dogs have their own distinct personalities. Dogs also have emotions as well as their own individual fears and anxieties, the same as do humans. Is it any wonder then that we tend to humanize them? One of the most common and most difficult anxieties for dogs is separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be difficult to deal with and is the second most common reason that most dogs are given up or euthanized. Sadly, far too many dog owners do not understand the condition and do not know how to address their dog’s individual fears to help overcome separation anxiety.
 
Just like humans, dogs tend to be either optimistic or pessimistic. Optimistic dogs have a lower tendency to suffer from separation anxiety, while pessimistic dogs have a higher tendency. It is important to note that some dogs may be pessimistic, fearful, or even aggressive because of prior neglect and/or abuse.

Dogs may experience anxiety due to grief, trauma, or just a change in routine. Instinct is also responsible for separation anxiety. Dogs are pack animals by nature and it is not natural for a dog to be left alone for prolonged periods of time.

Additional causes for separation anxiety include:

*Lack of socialization. Sometimes it helps to get the dog a companion; and
*Lack of exercise. Pent up energy from not getting enough exercise sometimes leads to behavioral problems.

The number one reason for a pet’s separation anxiety, though, is the owner’s lack of leadership and understanding.

Dogs that experience separation anxiety express their anxiety and panic in many different ways, including:

*Crying and pacing when you leave the house.
*Trembling and/or shaking.
*Continued barking and/or howling.
*Indoor soiling.
*Destructive scratching and chewing, especially around doors and windows.
*Desperate attempts to get out of the house.

Treating separation anxiety involves working with a dog’s emotions. The goal is to give the dog the security and self-assurance it needs to accept your departure calmly.

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Ways to help prevent separation anxiety include:

*Spending enough time giving it the love and attention it needs.

*Before leaving the house for an extended period of time, take you dog for a long walk. Such exercise should tire him out physically and mentally. As the old saying goes, “a tired dog is a good dog”.

*Leaving the house should be kept low key. If you become overly emotional telling your dog goodbye, your dog will draw upon the emotional overload. The same thing goes when returning home. Calmly walk in the door, put your things away and then calmly greet your dog.

*Provide your dog with safe and healthy chews to help deter chewing valuable objects in your home.

*Put your dog in a dog crate when you leave the house. However, dogs must be introduced to crates gradually and with love. Make the crate comfortable and include favorite toys.

*Leaving the radio on can help provide comfort while you are away.

*Lastly, should something be destroyed, don’t punish the dog after the fact. Otherwise your dog will associate your returning home with scolding.

There are some very good natural treatment techniques and items which can help calm a dog’s anxiety. For example, acupressure and other forms of massage and touching are wonderful calming tools. See:

http://www.tbyil.com/Acupressure_for_Dogs.htm

Herbs can help to calm your dog while you are implementing training techniques such as the ones suggested above. In addition to calming, some herbs actually help to support a dog’s nervous system. Beneficial herbs include chamomile, oat, astragalus, St. John’s Wort, valerian, and skullcap.

See also:

Traveling with Dogs

The Best Years in Life Pets and Animals_Resource Page

Sources:

http://www.livescience.com/animals/separation-anxiety-greater-pessimistic-dogs-101011.html
http://www.pawschicago.org/pet-resource-center/dog-care-information/separation-anxiety-in-dogs/
http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/separationanxiety.htm
http://www.natural-dog-health-remedies.com/dog-anxiety.html

 

About the author:

Luella May is a natural health advocate and author helping people to heal naturally.  Her articles appear in several online venues, including Natural News, AlignLife and CureZone.  Luella is in the midst of editing her eBook, "The 8 Invisible Stains of Our Souls" which will be available in the next few months. She partners with Tony Isaacs, who authors books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy". Luella a partner and contributor of The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Luella co-moderates the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs featuring Luella May" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and hosts her own yahoo group focusing on the natural wellbeing of pets. 

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