When you walk into your house after a long day of work you expect to be greeted by your happy dog wagging his tail and welcoming you home. Instead you come home to your $1500 couch destroyed, poop and pee all over your white carpet, destroyed baseboards or garbage spread all over your kitchen. Just what you needed after a long, stressful day at work!
Most people’s first reaction will be to get upset, yell at their dogs and punish them for the damage. Please NEVER punish a dog with separation anxiety!
Dogs with separation anxiety can not help their behavior
A dog with separation anxiety feels a sense of panic when left alone. Under the stress of being left alone they do things they normally wouldn’t like going to the bathroom in the house, barking and howling or destroying furniture. They aren’t thinking rationally and can’t reason that you will be home soon and they should calm down. Once the anxiety has set in they can’t stop the cascade of panicked feelings. This is why a dog with separation anxiety destroys things.
Punishing them for this behavior will only make the behavior and feelings of panic when you are away worse. Now they learn that when you leave them alone and then come back you are going to yell at them and get upset when you come home. They do not understand WHY you are upset, they only know that you left, came home and now are angry. It only takes ONE TIME of you reacting this way for the dog to pick up on it and make the association and it may take months or years for your to undo that association.
Also, if you punish the dog for separation anxiety destruction when you get home they will not know WHAT you are punishing them for. Unless you can correct a behavior within a second after it happens a dog can not make the connection. So punishing a dog with separation anxiety an hour after they’ve done something will cause more harm than good.
Always remember that if you focus on the behaviors you want out of your dog rather than what you don’t want you will be more successful with training your dog and have a much better relationship! Set you dog with separation anxiety up for success. Use a crate, give him something to do and of course use all of the calming agents that you can! Check out our dog separation anxiety tools page for some ideas.
Manchego the Anxious Dog