>My newly adopted 4 year old cocker spaniel Sugar suffers severe separation
>anxiety when we leave her alone for even a short time, scratching at the
>kitchen door and urinating on the floor despite being otherwise fully
>housebroken.

>Any tips on how to convince her we're not going to abandon her like
>previous owners? It seems hard to reprimand behavior that goes on when
>I'm not home.

I will give you my perspective on separation anxiety-which is admittedly a bit unusual. Try to get into your dog's mind. When you leave your dog, she experiences an almost existential terror. Her world becomes a bit topsy turvy- She has no anchor. Suddenly inhibitions become meaningless. She clutches for something that reminds her of you- a sock, a pillow, whatever. Something that smells like you. Sometimes there is a fit of brief anger- a tossed pillow or worse. Chewing and barking become a way to relieve the stress and to forgot your absence. She clings to whatever she can- even possibly becoming self destructive.

Basic techniques such as slowly increasing the times of your absence, if even for a few minutes may help. PROPER/SAFE crating will generally keep her out of trouble and may even give her an added sense of security. Usually with maturity and age a dog will "learn" to accept an absence that she may eventually understand as temporary. Focused obedience training and play will develop her concentration/mental skills and help her cope with your absence. Exercise before and after an absence will also help. Not showing excessive attention when you come and go will help. Contradicting what I just said, a nutritional long lasting milk bone treat given when you leave may divert her attention and help her calm herself.

But as I am sure you know, your dog will NEVER like your absence. Till her last day and breathing minute she will cling to you, perhaps only reluctantly but maturely accepting the final parting.

 

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