Distress is simply an animal’s inability to adapt to stress (or the conditions that are causing stress). In humans or animals, the result of distress is often demonstrated by poor coping skills that include inappropriate
urinating or defecating (toilet-trained children who are experiencing distress might wet the bed or wet their pants), making noise (dogs bark and whine while distressed children might cry), and destruction or aggression.
In many situations, separation distress is a more accurate term than
separation anxiety. Some owners have even called their pups behavior Separation Fun. They can learn that when their owner is gone, they can counter surf, sleep on their owners bed, lounge on the couch, dig in the trash, relieve their bladder without anyone yelling at them.
Some owners return home to discover toilet paper has been dragged from the bathroom all through the house and underwear is now strewn about the living room. A tornado went through the house? No, the dog was at it again.
The idea that some dogs get bored and start a party when their owners are gone is controversial. What we do know is that something happens, as toilet paper is all around the house, shoes are chewed, and perhaps the dog urinated on the bed. These occurrences can all be accurately referred to as separation behaviors.
So before you implement a major training program, perhaps you should determine if your dog is truly anxious or simply bored. What we do know is that
punishment often creates more bad behaviors.
Helping dogs cope while being left alone is a process, but one that will save your furniture and earn you freedom for the life of your dog!