First, understand that your dog is not trying to get even with you for leaving him home alone. The destructive behaviors, going potty on the floor and neurotic behavior that accompany dog separation anxiety are linked to a panic response. Luckily, for you the owner, the panic response is a behavior that is successfully modified with corrective, positive reinforcement to help calm nerves and promote your dog’s confidence and wellbeing.
No one fully understands why there’s some dog that suffer anxieties more than others when some dogs don’t at all. However, it is known that dog separation anxiety sometimes occurs when a significant change in routine, structure or surroundings such as the absence of an important companion. This may also occur when moving into a new home, a new pet or person in the family, or perhaps a change in the normal feeding schedule.
Before we get into the process of what to do about dog separation anxiety, let’s spend a moment going over what NOT to do. First and foremost, don’t punish your dog. Punishment of any form is NOT an effective way to treat dog separation anxiety as well as any unwanted behaviors. A response such as this, on the part of the owner (you) only serves to reinforce the behavior you’re trying to do away with.
Providing another pet as a potential companion for your dog won’t exactly help either. Dog separation anxiety stems from your dog being separated from you and not so much from being alone. Being unable to play with another animal isn’t the same as just being plain old bored. There is a major difference between boredom and loneliness.
Incarcerating a dog with separation anxiety in a crate is also not the answer, nor a solution. A dog’s nature is to be free. A nervous dog locked in a crate is now left with a heightened panic response but now with a build up of paranoia and desperation on top of it. The added risk of your dog injuring himself in an attempt to escape from the crate is also heightened.
Obedience training alone will not address this psychological problem. Although, there is no question that obedience training is a satisfying and worthwhile experience for the both of you to enjoy. Dog separation anxiety is an uncorrected panic response and is unrelated to obedience as well as disobedience.