Does your dog bark, cry and whimper whenever you go out and leave him alone? Do you return to scratched doors, torn cushions and even soiled carpets? If so, you’re dealing with canine separation anxiety. Dogs that have separation anxiety often have a phobia to loud noises, fireworks and thunderstorms.

It takes time and commitment to help your dog recover from separation anxiety. You’ll need to chat to a specialist veterinary behavioralist about setting up a retraining program. This will allow your dog to gradually learn to relax when he’s on his own, and not be stressed and frightened. Medication such as Prozac is often very useful as he is being trained, as it makes learning easier and less stressful for him.

That’s all good and well, but how do you protect your home while your dog is undergoing these changes in behavior? There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of him chewing, scratching or howling during this period.

1. We are creatures of habit, and we often have a routine when we are leaving: slip on our shoes, put on our coat, grab our keys and leave by the front door. This is a series of cues for your dog, and he knows early on that you’re going to be going out and leaving him alone. Change the order in which you do these things, and even leave by a different door. He won’t have as much time to become stressed and anxious.

2. Your arrival and departure shouldn’t be a big deal to him, so don’t make it one. Treat him as a matter of fact when you get home, and when he is over his initial excitement, then you can give him a little attention.

3. Consider using dog appeasing pheromone in the room where he spends most of his time. This is available as a spray and as a plugin, and the pheromones relax and calm your dog, and help him cope with time on his own.

4. Use a crate. Dog crates are so useful for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. Your dog’s crate can become his den, his safe place where he can feel secure and comfortable. Not only that, he won’t have the opportunity to trash your lounge room while you aren’t home.

In Summary – There is no overnight fix for separation anxiety. It takes a while, but most dogs learn to cope better when you are out. This makes life less stressful, and much more enjoyable for them.