I love shelter dogs, and most of my dogs have come from the shelter. One of the most common problems with shelter dogs is anxiety. Work with them, love them, and give them some time. They will come around. Here is an article I wrote for Ezine Articles about shelter dogs and anxiety.
You adopted a little dog from the dog shelter, and the dog is seems perfect. Perfect, at least, until you leave the house. Then that adorable little mutt from the shleter society becomes a menace to society. They bark constantly, destroy your house, and your piece of mind. Welcome to rescue dog separation anxiety.
Dog Separation Anxiety is the second most common reason that dogs are sent or returned to shelters. Dogs that are adopted from shelters are more likely to have separation anxiety than dogs that come from a breeder. Unfortunately, some rescue dogs find themselves caught in a revolving door between the shelter and a placement home.
Why Do Shelter Dogs Get Separation Anxiety
There are a number of reasons rescue dogs get separation anxiety. Primarily, dogs are pack animals. They are genetically descended from wolves, and are hardwired to make strong bonds with their pack. A wolf without it’s pack would die in the wild, and dogs feel just the same way.
Rescue dogs are rarely left alone. They can usually smell, see, and hear their fellow rescues nearby. The longer a dog has been in a shelter, the more likely that problems will develop. The experience of going to a home, to a shelter can be a traumatic experience. They believe that their pack has abandoned them. When you step in and adopt the dog, you need to become its replacement pack. This can take a bit of time. Remember, Dogs bond with their pack strongly. When a dog has been sent to a rescue shelter, it can be nervous that it will be left again.
Rescues may also have a checkered past of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. These dogs aren’t ruined. They just need someone with some patience, understanding, and knowledge to help them through their issues.
What Can I Do?
The first key to helping your rescue dog overcome separation anxiety is to be a strong pack leader. You need to look after all of your dogs needs, but don’t spoil it. Be a calm, fair leader. The second key is to practice behavior modification drills with your dog. Behavior modification can be used to reduce and eliminate the anxiety your dog feels while you are away. Once their anxiety is below a certain threshold, they will no longer behave destructively.