THE DREADED SEPARATION ANXIETY
Separation anxiety is one of the more difficult issues
to work with. But, far better than an aggressive problem.
Have you ever used a crate? Perhaps you have and perhaps your dog has not coped well in one, but
if you haven't tried it, we strongly suggest you do. When a dog is left to his own devices at home with the run of the
entire house, he can get into a lot of trouble in an effort to relieve the anxiety he's feeling. Sometimes, it's just a matter
of having too much space - it can be overwhelming to an already insecure dog. A crate can offer him security and comfort while
you're out (but never more than 8 hours for a healthy adult dog - puppies and senior dogs should not be left alone for
more than their bladders can manage). It also has to be used for positive reinforcement only - never as a source of discipline.
Only good things should be associated with the crate. When you go to leave, you don't make a fuss. If he's a peanut butter
fan, then you've got it made! The night before, fill a kong with his favourite treats and top it off with unsweetened peanut
butter. Put it in the freezer overnight. Give him the kong in the crate when you leave. Separation anxiety usually sets in
within the first 20 minutes of your leaving. If he has something else to occupy him in that timeframe, it can help to
lessen his anxiety. A blanket should be placed over the crate (you can leave the front portion uncovered so he can see out
but you want to make it as much like a cave as possible). If he has a tendancy to pull things into the crate, i.e. blanket,
carpet, etc., then opt for a Vari Kennel (the ones that resemble an igloo). If he tends to knock over his water, you can purchase
a receptacle that attaches to the door of the crate or to the bars of a wire crate. Make sure he has a blanket (you can buy
baby blankets for next to nothing at Value Village if he has a habit of shredding them). Put on some soft music and soft lighting
to help calm him. And, don't make a fuss. The same goes for when you return. As hard as it is, you should ignore him
for at least 15-20 minutes after you arrive home. And even then, you want to remain casual. "Hi little beagle boy, how
are you? Let's take you out for a tinkle" - that sort of thing.
If, however, he is at risk of causing harm to himself in a crate, it may not be the solution - unless
the anxiety can be reduced.
is also important is the level of physical and mental stimulation he's getting while you're with him. He should be going
out for a nice walk in the morning before you leave for work - that will help to tire him out for the day ahead. A tired
dog is a happy dog! He should get another healthy, longer walk after you get home. Socializing with other dogs is also
a plus - unless he's not good with other dogs of course in which case some training with a good behaviourist is suggested.
You may also want to consider
a dog walker to come in mid-day to take him for a walk. The only concern with this approach is maintaining it. If you ever
had to stop using a dog walker, the separation anxiety could escalate. Same scenario when using a doggy daycare facility.
Unless your dog is plagued with severe separation anxiety, using a doggy day care every day can often make matters worse.
Your dog needs to get used to being left alone so that it does not cause him such anxiety when you do go out. After all, everybody
has to go out now and then. We cannot be imprisoned in our own house because of our dogs.
If all else fails, and you've ruled
out any medical issues, then speak to your vet about Clomicalm. It's a very mild drug that helps to reduce anxiety in dogs.
It doesn't work for every dog mind you, but it has proven to be quite successful in many.
Finally, you might want to read a testimonial from an adopter
of a Boxer suffering from severe separation anxiety by visiting www.boxerrescueontario.com and clicking on "Adopting" and under the section "Before you Apply". The rescue prompts you to click
on "Ernie's Story". You'll find that you're not alone. It might even inspire you not to give up on your
beagle - at least not until you've tried everything.
You must understand that re-homing your beagle should be the last resort. It doesn't matter whether
a home is found for him where his people are home more often than not. As mentioned above, we all have to leave our house
sometimes. As you can imagine, it's not easy finding loving homes for dogs with health or behavioural issues. Your beagle
is counting on you to help him through this problem. You're his family. Are you sure you want to take a chance
that someone else will be just as committed as you? Please consider giving him another try. There are far too many unwanted
dogs in our shelters because we didn't learn the one most important thing from our pets - unconditional love.
Finally, go back to our Home Page and click on Joan Weston articles to read her article, "What Really Matters". We
think it might give you some food for thought. Shoes can always be replaced, but not that crazy yett adorable beagle
of yours. Hoping you will at least consider the advice we've provided here.