Your pets; ASK THE VET.
Byline: With Rory Thomson
Q: When we first brought our now 10-month-old female labrakita dog home we could leave her in the house when taking the kids to school or going shopping. Now she has started scratching and wrecked my door frame. She never used to. Why is she doing this and what would you suggest? DEBRA HEAPY, Northumberland A: Your description sounds like separation anxiety and is reported to affect about 15% of dogs, although most owners never seek professional help or advice in treating this disorder. It can be very serious and is a common cause of animals being rehomed.
Providing a dog with a wide variety of experiences between five and ten months of age will usually prevent this behaviour, as it is thought to somehow build the dog's confidence.
Confusingly, there is also some evidence to suggest that an extensive socialisation at about three months of age will lead a dog to develop separation-related behaviours over the following six months. Destructive behaviour, vocalisation and inappropriate toileting can all be associated with separation anxiety. The cause of this is thought to be more complicated than a simple attachment to you. It is now thought to represent a more general state of anxiety, which is suppressed by contact with owners.
An accredited canine behaviourist is worth talking to. Pheromones and behavioural supplements may also be beneficial.
|Please note that advice in this section is for general guidance, and if your pet is very unwell you should contact your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible as this advice does not replace the need for a clinical examination of your pet.
Rory Thomson is part of the team at St Clair Veterinary Care in Croft Road, Blyth. Any questions? See chroniclelive.co.uk/askthevet