Separation anxiety can’t really be wished away. It could even become progressively difficult to completely regress it. More realistically, you should aim to manage it instead.
Let’s look first at what shouldn’t be done. This isn’t about blaming yourself. It’s more pet-focused. As already alluded to (tongue in cheek) in this series’ intro, this is not about your pooch all of the sudden thinking like a human into how to avenge its owner when being left alone for prolonged periods of time.
A dog’s prefrontal cortex may be developed more than a cat’s, but it’ll never get to the point where it starts to reason into how to ‘get even’. Better leave it to filmmaking. Quite simply, their ‘acting out’ is just an exteriorization of frustrating distress (a type of stress that can’t be coped with).
As such, it’s a behavior that could be medically treated. While you may be dreading the results of your pet’s behavior, it’s likely that Rover may dread going through separation anxiety even more. Thus, meting out corporal punishment for your pooch should never be chosen.
Your pet will not associate how you’re treating it at that moment, with something that could’ve happened hours ago. Even if it was minutes ago, there won’t necessarily be a tangible connection to make its consequences effective.
If anything, punishing would increase a pet’s distress even more. Going the opposite extreme would also make things worse. Showing displays of affection to your pet, which are usually reserved for reinforcing your dog’s sense of wellbeing, would be counterproducent.
Affective praise at the wrong time would confuse a pooch already going through established anxiety. What you’d want, rather, is to establish a relationship that would be more balanced. One in which your dog is able to cope with finding itself alone.
Next up are the recommended steps to make that happen…