Dr. Doris Calloway of Craig Road Animal Hospital in North West Las Vegas in the second part of a two part article discusses excessive barking due to separation anxiety. Part one on general tactics to help when your dog barks more that you think they should can be found here.
By Doris Calloway, DVM
Dogs that are barking due to separation anxiety are usually dogs that don’t start their barking until you leave the house.
They will often bark continuously the entire time you’re gone, or for the first few hours. Dogs with separation anxiety are barking because they are scared and anxious, not because they are willfully misbehaving. Punishing these types of dogs only adds to their anxiety and fear. Would you punish your daughter because she cries when you drop her off at preschool? I could devote multiple blog posts to separation anxiety, but I will just touch on a few things that you can try before involving a veterinarian or a behaviorist.
I recommend crate training dogs with separation anxiety.
Dogs like to have a safe space to retreat to when they are anxious, and a crate provides this space. My dogs often go and hang out in their crates when my toddler has become too much for them to handle. A crate should NEVER be used for punishment. When you ask your dog to go into their crate they should always be rewarded. Crating your dog when you’re not home helps prevent your dog from hurting themselves and has the added benefit of not coming home to chewed up baseboards or kitchen trash everywhere.
Dogs with separation anxiety may benefit from a super special treat that they get only when you leave the house, such as a Kong stuffed with frozen peanut butter.
Adaptil is a product that greatly helps dogs with anxiety.
It is a synthetic version of a pheromone that a mother dog releases when she’s nursing her puppies; it causes an overall calming effect. In my estimation, about 70% of my clients who use this product for stress – thunderstorms, new animals in the house, etc- feel it helps tremendously and helps them avoid medicating their pets. It comes as either a plug in device similar to an air freshener or a collar that your dog wears that releases the pheromone gradually. Many clients at Craig Road Animal Hospital will also place the collars onto their dogs while they are boarding with us. Adaptil products can be purchased through your veterinarian.
If crate training and Adaptil don’t work, the next step may be medication. Have your dog evaluated by your veterinarian, she or he will discuss the medication options available after a thorough physical exam and analysis of your dog’s behavior problems.
What happens if someone reports your dog to Animal Control for barking?
You may get a visit from an Animal Control officer! Try not to worry – It is highly unlikely that your dog will be taken from you. The officer’s goal is really to make sure your animals are safe and well cared for i.e. not barking because they’re left outside all day without water or shelter. Make sure your dogs are licensed with the city – here in Las Vegas or North Las Vegas that requires that they have been spayed or neutered and are up to date on their Rabies vaccine. If your dogs are repeatedly reported, or found to be unlicensed, you may be faced with a fine.
But that’s not going to happen, is it? Because now you know what to do!
Have you successfully trained your dog not to bark excessively? Tell me how in the comments below!