Separation Anxiety in Dogs Page 3
The importance of training your dog cannot be overemphasized. A well
trained dog has something to fill his mind, has better control over himself and
is more likely to respond to you when you tell him to be
and quiet. If your dog is not trained, you can enroll him immediately in a
training class, hire a professional trainer or home school him yourself.
Place particular emphasis on sit-stay and down-stay commands.
A high strung dog will find it difficult to sit-stay or down-stay for any length
of time. This will teach him self-discipline. If you can make him
sit-stay or down-stay while you leave the room, this will make it much easier
for him to stay calm when
you leave the house.
Make your dog stand on his own four legs. Do not let
him lean against you on the couch, sit in your lap or place himself on top
of your feet or legs. If you have a problem with this, make him
down-stay in his own bed or place him in a crate while you are in the same
The assertive dog will learn that she cannot do everything she pleases while a
fearful dog will develop the confidence to be on her own.
In order to save your house and keep your sanity, you may want to take your dog to daycare
while you modify his behavior. You can then go about your day without having to
worry about what awaits you at home.
The advantage of daycare is that it helps
socialize your dog and teach her that being without you can be enjoyable. Since lack of socialization could have triggered the
anxiety in the first place, day care may help hasten the behavior modification.
If your dog is around other happy and engaged dogs all day even when his family
is gone, he can learn to be less anxious.
Initially you may have to take him every day that you are at
work or away for any length of time. Over time, you can balance out his
time at doggy day care with a significantly
increased exercise routine. You
can increase his regular exercise and decrease the time he spends at doggy
Some dogs, especially as they grow older, may not be
comfortable in a boisterous day care. You may have to look for a human
companion or a house sitter while your dog learns to be on his own.
Melatonin is a hormone that is
produced by the pineal gland in the brain of mammals. Melatonin is thought
to help regulate the natural rhythms of sleep and wakefulness. Travelers
use melatonin to reset their internal clock when moving from one time zone to
another. Melatonin is widely available in pill form at your local drug
store or pharmacy.
Melatonin, along with exercise
and a meal beforehand, may encourage your dog to sleep while you are away so
that he can match your working hours with his sleeping hours. It does not
work with all dogs and you should consult your veterinarian as to the dosage
that is acceptable for your dog.
Just as with people, there are an increasing number of drugs that are available to treat
psychological problems in dogs. Although many people are reluctant to medicate their
dogs, if the alternative is to part company, then it is worth considering.
Medication, in conjunction with behavioral modification, can be just the thing your vet
recommends. Many modern psychoactive drugs are not sedatives and are not designed to
"drug" your dog or make him sleepy or "dopey."
from Novartis the maker of Sentinel and Program flea and parasite treatments, is one
medication marketed especially for separation anxiety in dogs. The active ingredient
is clomipramine hydrochloride and it comes in tablet form by prescription only. It
is used in conjunction with behavior modification.
Clomipramine is a seratonin reuptake
inhibitor (SRI) and is used in humans for treating obsessive compulsive disorder
(OCD). It is similar to medications for humans such as Prozac.
The newest drug treatment on the market is Eli Lilly's
press release). This is the first FDA drug approved specifically to
treat separation anxiety in dogs. The active ingredient, fluoxetine
hydrochloride, is also the active ingredient in Prozac. It is a selective
seratonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is marketed as more specific
for separation anxiety than
Reconcile is a prescription-only, once-daily chewable pill
- The dosage is based on your dog's weight
- The range of responses from great responses to no response will vary with the
- Behavior modification is required in addition to the pill. Eli Lilly
provides a behavior modification regimen to go along with
- These drugs may require several weeks to show an effect
- The recommended doses may not be sufficient for some dogs
Medications: General Information
Below are links to the
Merck Veterinary Manual. The first
is a list of drugs that may help in behavioral therapy for dogs when
other avenues are ineffective or insufficient. The
second link discusses general guidelines for drug use including what background
information should be collected and what tests should be done.
Merck Veterinary Manual: Drugs for Canine Behavior
Merck Veterinary Manual: Guidelines for Behavioral Drug Use