Separation anxiety is a serious problem that directly impacts the health and well-being of the dog. It's not just about messes in the house (housetraining "accidents," chewing and destruction, scratching at doors and windowsills). The distress or panic that drives these dogs to wreak havoc while you're away also weakens their immune system, reduces their ability to cope with other stressful events, and seriously degrades their quality of life.
Nicole Wilde's book, "Don't Leave Me: Step-by-Step Help for Your Dog's Separation Anxiety" is a comprehensive, thoughtful, and supportive exploration of separation anxiety in dogs. It's my "go-to" book for any cases potentially involving separation anxiety. Nicole Wilde addresses you (the dog owner) directly, in a compassionate, straightforward, and easily understood manner.
The book includes answers to all the questions you may not know you should be asking.
- Determining whether your dog has "SA" (or not – the behavior may be due to other things)
- Understanding possible causes
- The "Firm Foundation" Program (i.e. what to do about separation anxiety), including: Management, nutrition, exercise, building confidence (helping the dog feel more secure), and pharmacological intervention. (Medication – appropriately prescribed by your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist — may be necessary for success if the dog is injuring herself or the family can no longer cope with the dog's behavior, and often resolves the issue much more quickly than behavior modification alone.)
- Behavior Modification (this is the step-by-step part of the book)
- Cool Tools (products that may reduce stress and anxiety and help your dog relax more)
- How to put it all together (sample treatment plan and how to create your own treatment plan)
If you're looking for basic information about separation anxiety, including what it is (and what it isn't), tips on preventing a dog from getting separation anxiety, and the basic techniques for helping a dog feel better when left alone, Dr. Patricia McConnell's "I'l be Home Soon" booklet may be all you need.
If you're living with a dog who exhibits the anxious and panicky behaviors associated with separation anxiety, I highly recommend "Don't Leave Me." This book provides the best multi-prong approach and step-by-step instructions I've found for helping your dog through his or her panic at being left alone.
For people who learn better by watching an listening, Nicole Wilde has also produced a DVD of one of her seminars on separation anxiety. It mirrors the information in her book. For more information and to see a video clip from the DVD, please see "Separation Anxiety: Both Sides Now" on Dogwise.com.