How Can I Deal With My Shih Tzu's Separation Anxiety?

Published: 29th October 2005
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Crating your dog when you leave him alone might seem easier, but it may not be the best approach to keep him out of trouble. And it may even cause your dog to experience more separation anxiety. Crating was developed as a method of housebreaking. If you will spend a modest amount of time training a puppy, they will have many years of satisfying companionship. Caging is fine if used for only a few hours at a time when you can't be there to supervise. Caging should never become a permanent way of life. Excessive caging can lead to problems. Some of the worst behavior problems seen in dogs were dogs that were crated for long periods of time. Some dogs cannot tolerate any time in a cage at all; they panic and fight to get to get out. It is also true that some dogs really do like their cages and find them a cozy refuge, a den to retire in away from the hustle and bustle of everything else. Caging or crating is an acceptable method of housebreaking if used in moderation.

Dogs who chew wildly and scratch walls are not being spiteful. Dogs don't have the intelligence to be spiteful. Shih Tzu especially want nothing more than to spend time with "people." They are very sociable and are always quite content to be slab dab in the middle of everything "their people" are doing, regardless of what it is. When you are away they sometimes can become anxious and some might even become frantic. So what can you do?

They need help becoming more comfortable when they are alone and they need to learn that you will return after you go out. If possible, devote several consecutive days addressing the problem and plan on more time to reinforce any progress you make. Give your dog attention, but if he decides to walk off and curl up in a corner to sleep, let him be, if he does not follow you when you leave a room, don't encourage him to do so if it is not necessary. You want to teach him to be okay by himself even if it is only in another room.

Start conditioning the dog for your absences. You might exercise the dog so he will be ready for a nap and make sure he has relieved himself. Then, leave him alone in his space. Don't make a big deal about it because you don't want him to think that your leaving him is a big deal. Leave the dog alone for a minute or two while you go elsewhere in the house or into the yard. Do this several times through the first day of conditioning training. If he remains calm, increase the time. Work up to about 10 minutes. If all goes well, do the same the next day. This time, leave and go somewhere else. Take a walk up the street or take a short ride in the car for 5 minutes, then return. When you leave, try to leave him joyously and when you return, try to return with a joyous greeting, so that he associates you leaving and you returning on the same note, something not so bad, but something joyous and that you always return. Work up to 15 minutes, then slowly work up to a couple of hours. Leave and return quietly. You want your dog to learn that leaving and returning is nothing to get tore up about. If you return and the puppy has been destructive do not scold him. he won't know what you are scolding him about and this will only make things worse. His anxiety will increase. If you see destructive behavior, take a step backward, decrease the time you are away and build back up again. If you do not have the time to devote to this conditioning training, then you may have to find a dog sitter to leave your dog with if he is one that becomes anxious or destructive when you are away, at least until you have time to devote to training.

These are just a few tips to help you deal with a shih tzu who truly might have separation anxiety or to prevent separation anxiety from becoming a problem. I hope this helps.

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