>My newly adopted 4 year old cocker spaniel Sugar suffers severe separation
>anxiety when we leave her alone for even a short time, scratching at the
>kitchen door and urinating on the floor despite being otherwise fully
>Any tips on how to convince her we're not going to abandon her like
>previous owners? It seems hard to reprimand behavior that goes on when
>I'm not home.
I will give you my perspective on separation anxiety-which is admittedly a bit
unusual. Try to get into your dog's mind. When you leave your dog, she experiences an
almost existential terror. Her world becomes a bit topsy turvy- She has no anchor.
Suddenly inhibitions become meaningless. She clutches for something that reminds her of
you- a sock, a pillow, whatever. Something that smells like you. Sometimes there is a fit
of brief anger- a tossed pillow or worse. Chewing and barking become a way to relieve the
stress and to forgot your absence. She clings to whatever she can- even possibly becoming
Basic techniques such as slowly increasing the times of your absence, if even for a few
minutes may help. PROPER/SAFE crating will generally keep her out of trouble and may even
give her an added sense of security. Usually with maturity and age a dog will
"learn" to accept an absence that she may eventually understand as temporary.
Focused obedience training and play will develop her concentration/mental skills and help
her cope with your absence. Exercise before and after an absence will also help. Not
showing excessive attention when you come and go will help. Contradicting what I just
said, a nutritional long lasting milk bone treat given when you leave may divert her
attention and help her calm herself.
But as I am sure you know, your dog will NEVER like your absence. Till her last day and
breathing minute she will cling to you, perhaps only reluctantly but maturely accepting
the final parting.