My 6 yo rescue (I've had her 4 years) is super attached to my boyfriend and his young daughter. Lately when he/they leave the house she goes to the bathroom even though she was outside before they left.
Help!!! What can we do? Is she having separation anxiety? She's never done this before.
Hi Dawn. Any type of change can trigger anxiety in dogs, and older dogs are even more prone to this. I'd guess that the change in living situation has caused her to feel inseure and anxious and that's resulting in this inappropriate elimination habit.
It could be that she is so anxious that she loses control of her bowels/bladder, or it could be that she's become confused and upset in general which has causes a regression in toilet habits.
The key to remedying this is to reduce her anxiety levels. There are many natural ways to do this and I'd suggest checking them out, this page on another of my websites has information on dealing with anxiety in dogs... < a href="http://www.seniortailwaggers.com/natural-remedies-for-dog-anxiety.html" target="blank">Natural Remedies for Dog Anxiety.
Your veterinarian is also a good source of advice and could prescribe anti-anxiety medications if necessary. These often have side effects and can be pretty sedating, so are not a first choice for anything other than severe anxiety but it is an option if needed.
Often this type of behavior resulting from a lifestyle change is temporary, and once your Rottie feels more secure and less anxious she will revert to her more normal behavior. Until then a lot of extra potty breaks and the use of a crate to prevent 'accidents' (as long as she is familiar with being crated, if she's not then this will add another level of anxiety) can help.
A predictable regular routine, a calm environment (I know this is tricky to achieve with kids around, but it is important), exercise and a quiet, safe spot for her to rest and get away from the hubbub of family life are all useful ways of reducing anxiety. Chewing is also a stress-relieving activity for dogs, so some sturdy new chew toys would be good.
If you feel it would be useful, doggie diapers could be used to protect flooring and carpets while you work through this with her. Obviously this would be a very short term option and won't fix the problem, but will prevent damage to your home and the extra frustration that entails.
I hope this helps and maybe triggers some more ideas in your mind as to how to help your girl adjust to this big change in her life. Given time, love and patience I am sure things will settle down. ~ Sue
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