Wife's Dog Attachment a Concern

Q: My wife is unusually attached to our dog to the point where they both seem to have separation anxiety. I love the dog, too, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to make plans. The dog has chewed through several pieces of furniture and now my wife uses that as an excuse to stay home instead of being social. I'm afraid if we don't address these issues now, it'll be debilitating when the dog eventually passes, but I'm at a loss as what to do. — Jerome, 43

Dr. Susan: I'm no pet expert, but I know that some dogs are miserable when their owners are not home. Your wife's separation anxiety is at least partly justified, and she seems to be extra-sensitive to the dog's unhappiness. Once the dog's panic is dealt with, then your wife's concern will also diminish.

I found some useful tips online. For instance, leave something of your wife's (a blouse) for the dog to sniff and get comfy with. Leave for only short periods, extending those periods slowly. Don't overdo the welcome act when you get home. Consider a calming medication (for the dog!). Confine the dog to a safe room with plenty to play with and sniff. For more, check out http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/separation_anxiety.html.

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