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Separation anxiety, noise fears and soiling - a question answered

Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 4:57:14 PM EST by Cam Day

A question answered about separation anxiety, noise fears and soiling

My dog suffers anxiety problems from loud noises (thunder, cars back firing etc) to separation anxiety. If I go away for a few hours, he sits at the fence and cries/howls and looks really cranky when I return.

My partner said not to molly coddle him as it will make the problem worse so I try to talk to him to settle him down.

He will often breath really heavy and his heart beats quickly. I really don’t want to revert to drugs to settle him down but I have now become anxious thinking about him.

I love him so much but he is getting older and set in his ways and I want to make his last few years the best. What should I do?

Mary - Carina Brisbane


HI Mary,

Separation anxiety and noise fears are two of the most common anxiety disorders from which dogs can suffer. The problem is that each on its own can be severe and together they are bad bed mates, each feeding off the other in a dog-debilitating frenzy. Wether to ‘molly coddle’ or not is an interesting point. What you dog needs is to be calm and happy and if that means giving him attention then that’s not a crime.

So, the goal is to make your dog calm and content in your absence. This can sometimes be created by lifestyle enrichment techniques. We use something we call the No Bored Dogs Routine for that. You should also teach your dog to be calm and content when you are away by practicing getting him away from you for short periods when you ARE home and use the No Bored Dogs Routine to create that separation.

If your dog is inside when you are absent from him then look at how Pheromones can help by creating a Den-like environment for your dog that calms him in your absence.

For the noise fears, remember that dogs hear, see, smell and even feel (the rain and wind) of storms and this can terrify many dogs. So a sound proof Den is ideal for the fears that occur when you are absent. Many use a laundry for that or a walk-in wardrobe can sometimes work. If he panics with noises when you are home then try derailing the cascade of fear with game play routines. Some dogs really become calm when massage is combined with a calming voice.

And lastly – many anxious or panicking dogs can benefit from the wise and thoughtful use of medications but you will need to see your vet for that or contact us for more information.

Cheers


Dr Cam


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