Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety comes in several forms, but there are several common denominators.

Generally, dogs that behave badly when the owners go away do so as a result of poor training or simply boredom.  Any dog that is pretty much ok with being left alone but acts out occasionally by chewing things for example, does not suffer from separation anxiety.  This is more a training or lack of exercise issue.

A dog with true separation anxiety absolutely cannot bear to be separated from their owner for even one minute. These dogs will whine and scratch at a closed bathroom door or bark incessantly if the owner steps outside for just a moment. This behavior intensifies the longer the owner is out of sight. They bark, pant, hyperventilate, and howl continuously until the owner returns. They often urinate and defecate in the house, tear up things that smell like the owner such as shoes or socks. They will even destroy things the owner has recently touched, such as a TV remote, or even a telephone. They are so anxiety ridden they cannot function normally or calm themselves down. Even after the owner returns, the dog is overly happy to see the owner and still cannot settle. Jumping and running in circles, and even proudly displaying the destroyed items is common.

Mild or Moderate Cases

Dogs with mild or moderate separation anxiety display the same type of behaviors to a lesser degree. There are several things an owner can do to lessen the anxiety in these cases. Start by not making a fuss over the dog before leaving. Make a plan to reassure the dog by leaving the house for a moment or two, and then returning. Pet the dog only when he is calm. Repeat this process, slowly making the “away” intervals longer. Soon the dog will understand that you will, in fact, return.

Increase exercise and play times as well. Also consider teaching additional tricks and commands. This focuses the dog’s attention on the owner.dogs with plenty of exercise and “owner” time will happily sleep while the owner is away.

Vet Intervention

In severe cases, vet intervention is needed. There are medications that can be prescribed to help calm the dog. There are also many natural or herbal remedies available. Your vet may even suggest a behaviorist to help in training or retraining. In this case, active participation by the owner is highly recommended.

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Natural Remedies for Dogs

A lot of dog owners are uncomfortable using prescription drugs to treat their pet’s ailments, especially when it comes to skin or coat issues.  The reason for this is mainly because the owner prefers something more natural and less chemical.

Holistic vets are very popular for the same reasons.  They usually try other homeopathic, or natural, herbal remedies before moving on to the prescription medications only when the chosen alternative fails.  Side effects are another consideration in choosing natural remedies.

Natural dog shampoos and conditioners contain the same ingredients that natural human shampoos and conditioners do. The same hold true for skin care. natural products are primarily herbal, containing such things as oatmeal, chamomile, lavender oil, aloe vera, olive oil, and grape seed extracts. They often contain Echinacea and natural forms of Vitamins C, D and E. These natural products are usually far superior to traditional over the counter products and medications in that they leave the skin and coat soft and supple. They also rinse easily, leaving no soapy residue which can dry the skin and cause itching or even allergic reactions.

Many of the natural remedies also cause a natural calming or soothing effect, not only for hot spots for example, but for the general overall effect it has on relieving stress or anxiety the dog feels during bath or treatment. They are also very popular in stress reducing aromatherapies and come in sprays, topical creams and ointments as well as shampoos cleansers and conditioners.

You can even find flea, tick, dewormers and heartworm remedies in natural forms. These treatments are safe for puppies as well as adult dogs. One thing to remember when using these products in their natural form is that it is on a continual basis, as opposed to the more traditional remedies that are only used every two to three months. The more natural approach is gentler and easier on a dog’s digestive tract.

A very popular herbal remedy for high strung or over stressed dogs is the Bach flower. While not all emotional or stress issues are completely controlled by the flower, it is a very safe remedy and there is no concern about accidental overdose or injury. The easiest and most commonly used form of the Bach flower is liquid.

There are herbal remedies for ear infections, especially in those dogs with long droopy ears where chronic ear infections are a fact of life. For some dogs, the treatment may span a few months, but even the most troublesome are eventually cleared.

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Do dogs really need toys?

Dogs love to chew.

It’s a part of a dogs’ life. Chewing is expected of puppies, after all, they are teething and unfortunately sometimes they chew things they are not supposed to. But adult dogs? Why do they chew?I am sure you have come home to find a favorite pair of shoes or slippers ripped to shreds, or even a favorite book torn to pieces. Why do dogs chew things they are not supposed to?

Playing is an important part of a dog’s life. It keeps them mentally active and alert. Chewing is part of their entertainment. If they do not have toys to play with, they will find something else to gnaw on, or should I say destroy. Some dogs are more destructive than others, and not all chewing is a sign of boredom. Sometimes its a dog’s way of asking for attention. Maybe you have been spending a lot of time at work lately, or the kids have been busy at school functions. Your dog feels neglected, simply because he doesn’t understand why your not home yet, giving him attention. Chewing your slippers makes him feel closer to you – after all, your slippers smell like, well, you.

Toys have never been meant, or are intended to take the place of your companionship and regular exercise and playtime with his humans. However, to keep doggie from getting bored and thus getting into trouble, it is a good idea to have at least 8 to 10 toys for him or her to play with and chew on.

There are an abundance of toys to choose from, for all sizes and ages of dogs, and even their specific chewing habits. There are plush toys with different fabrics, squeaker toys, tug toys, chewies, toys for tossing or rolling, and even toys with treats hidden inside! There are even toys for those of us who have decided to “go green” that are made from recycled materials and can be recycled again when doggie is done with it.

It’s a good idea to have many toys and varieties, and rotate them on a regular basis. This allows for cleaning and disposing of toys that have been played to death, as well as the renewed interest your dog shows when he sees them as “new” or “I forgot all about that one!” toys.

Even though your dog has plenty of toys, don’t forget he needs you to play with him too. It’s great exercise and fun for the both of you. Frisbees, balls, tug toys are all great “my human can play too” toys.

Yes. Dogs really do need toys. Toys keep them happy, occupied and out of trouble.

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