Your once well-behaved and trained American Water Spaniel suddenly starts acting out. The neighbors tell you he is barking all the time when you’re not home, he has accidents around the house, and he is chewing things he should not be chewing, like shoes or walls. He might even be digging, crying, or howling. You made sure you trained your dog as soon as you got him and he’s been doing well until now. These behaviors pointing to separation anxiety seem like they’re out of left field and you’re left perplexed. You don’t know what to do to get your pup back to his well-trained state.
The Root of the Behavior
American Water Spaniels are a breed traditionally intended for hunting, especially in water. These dogs are very friendly and need a lot of exercise and opportunity to run. This rare breed of dog is an excellent pet for families because they love being around both kids and adults. Socialization and stimulation are necessary for a happy and healthy dog. They want to be around their human friends and it does not matter where. They are happy sitting on the couch after a long day or chasing you and your friends as you throw the football outside. Regardless of the activity, your dog wants to be included. He’s also got your back and is a great watch dog and he will help you hunt game. The American Water Spaniel does not need a lot of indoor space and can do well in an apartment, but should have outside space to run and play in.
He is often an energetic dog, needing lots of exercise and interaction. Their need for companionship makes them more susceptible to separation anxiety than other breeds. If left alone too long, either inside or outside, the American Water Spaniel can develop separation anxiety. Signs of separation anxiety can manifest as constant and excessive barking. Even though the American Water Spaniel tends to be noisier than other breeds, barking more than usual might indicate separation anxiety. He might also chew, dig, scratch, or destroy furniture, walls, or even windows. He might forget his house training and have accidents around the house. Some dogs tend to drool or salivate, and sometimes pant when they are anxious while others might pace throughout their space. If you have ever come home to one or more results of these behaviors, consider that your American Water Spaniel is not being defiant or dominant, but he might be experiencing separation anxiety.
Encouraging the Behavior
If your dog is anxious, it means he is not feeling his best. He might start bothering neighbors with his barking or destroy your home. If this is not attended to, his behaviors can escalate and you can have a serious problem on your hands. Many people who choose the American Water Spaniel don’t realize how significant the separation anxiety can be and give up the dog. There are a few things you can try before you end your friendship. Remember, you chose this dog for a reason. It might be that he’s cute and cuddly, good with the whole family, loves being outside with you on hikes, eager to please, or a good watchdog. Whatever the reason, focus on that when you embark on a new routine with your pup.
Adding more exercise into his day can help the American Water Spaniel release some of that energy. If he’s getting a 30-minute walk twice a day, try making the walk longer or take him to a dog park where he can run free. Consider hiring a dog walker if you’re out during the day. A dog walker can break up his day, give him exercise, and allow him to socialize with someone which might help his anxiety. Crate training is also a possibility, but make sure you get a properly sized crate and don’t use it for too long at once. You can also try interactive toys so that throughout the day, your dog can stimulate his mind while playing.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog chews or eats any item that is not food, monitor him for odd behavior or stomach problems, like loss of appetite. He could have ingested something that is not edible, which could cause digestive problems. Call the vet if you’re not sure and want to know if he needs medical attention. If you’ve made attempts to improve his day by taking him out more, adding playtime, and making sure he is social, you should talk to a trainer or behavior specialist. They can help you enhance his day and decrease his separation anxiety. Even though this breed is considered rare, with only 3,000 or so dogs in the United States, they will know how best to approach helping your dog.
The American Water Spaniel is a great dog to have, but he comes with a little emotional baggage. Make sure you can give him lots of attention and exercise so his anxiety does not get the better of him. He just wants to be closer to you. If you get stuck, call the trainer to keep your friendship going.