Gradual desensitisation can help to reduce stress of being left alone

Friday, 24th February 2012

A dog that suffers from stress when left alone can be trained through gradual desensitisation, a vet has said.

Joe Inglis, writing for the Metro, was contacted by a reader whose dog had started marking his territory in their house. The dog does not do this when people are around, so Dr Inglis suggested that the animal could be suffering from anxiety.

He wrote: "The fact he only carries out this behaviour when you are out fits in with separation stress.

"My advice would be to start a programme of gradual desensitisation, getting him used to you being out for very short periods of time initially and making no fuss when you leave or return."

Dr Inglis added that the owner should gradually extend the amount of time that the dog is left alone. This should mean it gets used to being left  without feeling as anxious.

Some symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include destructive chewing, urination in the house, self mutilation and howling, barking and whining.