Sticking by a dog with Separation Anxiety

Many dogs get taken to the shelter because they have separation anxiety.  Separation anxiety can not only wrec havoc on the mental state of a dog, but can cause a dog to destroy a home.  “Bonnie” came from a very remote shelter and the first night decided to pull out all of the molding around a window in the room she was staying in.

I know first hand,  having had a pet with severe separation anxiety, how difficult it can be to manage  – keeping them and the home safe.  One of my first pets was a little cockapoo who had escaped his former home by tearing through a screened door.  When I found the owner, she said he was just too much to handle and said I could have him (having already gotten attached to the little guy I felt like the luckiest pet mom in the world).  The first few years were rough.  He pulled out phone lines, chewed plantation shutters, and dug through drywall (he was only 15lbs).  When someone was home, he showed no symptoms of the severity of his condition, other than following me around like a shadow.

I tried medication (which worked for a little while), different rooms in the house and even got another dog for him but nothing helped.  Finally, someone suggested a regular plastic crate with a more den like environment (rather than all wire which I had previously gotten because I thought he would do better being able to see more).  That plastic crate worked to keep him safe, but he would still lick and lick the metal grates of the door to the point they would get rusty and have to be changed frequently.  My heart ached for his conflicted mind so many times but I knew when I was home that he got plenty of love and when I wasn’t that he was safe on a plush blanket.

Bonnie was adopted by a family who committed to her as well.  Bonnie’s family found the solution to her separation anxiety was getting her certified as a therapy dog with a local organization – which she excels at.  This sweet girl, now known as Bella found her calling and gets all of the benefits of having people around.

Most dogs with separation anxiety can be managed but it takes commitment, love and compassion.  When they come from a shelter, we don’t know what they have gone through previously.  They need you to help them figure out how to live a complete life.  If you have a dog with separation anxiety, stick by them – you may be their only hope.

From Bella’s mom – Just wanted to share the good news that our Bella (“Bonnie”) and I just passed all the requirements to become a therapy dog team with Love on 4 Paws, an AKC recognized therapy dog organization. She has been such a great family dog and now will share her gentle personality with those in need. Thank you for giving her a second chance!

By Shelley Rios

TAPS President and Founder