Is your dog suffering from Labrador separation anxiety?
It is highly likely if there are there times when you have returned home after leaving your dog alone only to find out that your previously well-behaved Labrador retriever has chewed the cushions of your chairs and dug a hole in your couch.
Labrador retrievers are very emotional creatures and as such they are one of the canine breeds that commonly develop this condition as they love human companionship and hate to be left alone especially for a very long time.
Separation anxiety in dogs is their neurological distress response for being separated from the person with whom they have built a deep loving attachment.
Labrador separation anxiety not only affects the Lab puppies but the older dogs as well. When Labs are affected with the condition, they usually pour out their emotions and distress by exhibiting unusual behaviours. No matter how well behaved they used to be, they will exhibit behavioural problems such as barking, howling, whining, inappropriate urination and defecation, breaking through doors and windows, digging, scratching walls and doors, chewing, constant pestering of owner and excessive greeting behaviour.
These behaviours can greatly affect the dog's relationship with the owner. Many Lab owners just don't understand that the dog only wants attention and does not want to cause any harm.
They may start thinking their dog has gone mad and that there is nothing that they can do about it. This can cause the dog to end up being punished, or even worse, find their way to the animal shelters, which is the worst thing that a dog owner can do.
Harsh punishments, giving them out to friends or sending them to animal shelters will not solve the problem. It will only make them more anxious and worse, more destructive.
There are three types of treatments for Labrador separation anxiety, the training, medical and natural treatment.
Training treatment is also known as behavioural modification. This will allow dogs to feel more independent and in control. One good example of this kind of treatment is crate training which can help alleviate the dog's stress.
By getting your Lab used to being in a crate, even when you are still in the house, is the best and quickest way to build a Labs confidence.
Another option is to ramp up the obedience training, which builds security and confidence to the dog.
And lastly, the short leaves treatment, which, as the name suggests, involves leaving the dog in its crate for short periods of time, this helps the dog become used to being left alone. Just by leaving the room and being elsewhere in the house for five minutes will help to build up the labs confidence and will get him used to being left along in his crate.
The veterinarian may recommend medical treatment depending on the severity of the condition. However, it is only recommended when the case is already severe and behaviour modification no longer works for the dog. Commonly used medications to decrease the level of anxiety and fear are anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium and Clomicalm.
Medical treatments are usually effective but can have many side effects, which is why most dog owners choose a natural approach. Best examples of this kind of treatment are the herbal remedies that are readily available in local stores.
Labrador retrievers are best known for their sweet innocence and loyalty. They always love to be with human companions and build tight bonds with them. When they show signs of Labrador separation anxiety, they should not be overly punished.
They deserve a second chance. They are smart dogs and they're easy to deal with but may take some persistence on your behalf. But mind you, seeing your Lab turning back to that loving and sweet dog that you once knew is worth all the wait and effort.