Going Off the Deep End
It’s Monday morning, and off to work you must go. You’ve spent the weekend showering your best pal with an abundance of love and attention as if he could “store it up” for when you are away. As you waltz out that door, you can’t help but reach down and give him just one more show of love, assuring him that you’ll be home soon.
But hold on there, Pardner – not so fast. Your best buddy has a plan of his own. He’ll find plenty to do while you’re away. This plan begins by throwing a tantrum, pitching a fit, and basically “going off the deep end”. The possibilities are endless. His plan includes shrieking, barking, howling, whining, chewing on furniture, tearing up pillows, pacing, knocking over the trash can, digging up carpet and urinating on anything that doesn’t move. He may also try to leap through a window or screen, just to follow you. A very expensive, frustrating, and dangerous “plan”, to say the least.
It’s called separation anxiety. A common problem in dogs. Be assured that it is not his goal to “get even”. He’s simply relieving anxiety. This destructive behavior is his way of letting you know that he is panicking, terrified that you won’t come back.
The damage is usually done within the first half hour following your departure. Adopted or rescued dogs that have been passed from home to home seem to demonstrate this act of anxiety more often than secure, one-owner dogs.
But, not to worry – I have a few simple solutions that just might remedy this unacceptable behavior.
*First and foremost, departures should be kept quiet and calm. This means no drama.
*Homecomings should be matter of fact, relaxed, and nonchalant.
*Try leaving for short outings – each time extending the duration of your absences. He will soon relax, reassured that you will, indeed, be coming back.
*I have heard that Thunder Shirts have a calming effect – worth a try.
*A large spacious, shaded kennel for short stays might be a possibility.
*Keeping him occupied with a large knuckle bone or a toy designed to be stuffed with Cheese Whiz or peanut butter will occupy his time for hours on end. Give it to him as you leave. He just might start looking forward to your departure.
*There’s an old saying that says “A tired dog is a good dog”. A brisk walk or a game of fetch the ball just before you leave might wear him down a bit.
*Young Livings essential oils: Peace and Calming, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, or Stress Away can be used in a diffuser or rubbed onto your hands (2 drops essential oil, 10 drops coconut oil). Simply pet your pet. Leaves coat shiny and glossy and smells great!
If you have tried the above tricks with no success, please do not give up on your pal. It’s time to contact a certified dog trainer. They are knowledgeable and affordable.
Above all, be patient and persistent. Many dogs have overcome separation anxiety to become calm and trusting family members that will never again go off the deep end.