Behavioural challenges of the Scottish Sheepdog (Collie): how to deal with typical separation problems

Owner's question

"Hi! We have a Scottish Shepherd (Collie) named Mac. Unfortunately, he doesn't behave well when he has to be left home alone. He whines, scratches, and generally wreaks havoc when we are not home. It is very frustrating for us and the neighbours. What can we do?"

Vet's reply

"Hi! Scottish Sheepdogs are an intelligent and sociable breed, so it is common for them to have separation issues when left alone. Mac's behaviour suggests that he is probably suffering from separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is the fear or distress that dogs experience when they are separated from the people who are important to them.

This behaviour is usually caused by breed characteristics, lack of socialisation, bad habits or previous bad experiences.

The first step in treatment is to get Mac checked out by a vet! He or she will be able to determine whether the behaviour is really due to separation anxiety or whether it is due to a medical problem.

If the vet confirms a diagnosis of separation anxiety, you will need to develop a behavioural therapy plan for Mac to help alleviate his anxiety.

This may include exercise (e.g. leaving him alone for short periods and then gradually increasing the time), rewards (e.g. rewarding him if he behaves calmly when you leave), mental and physical stimulation (e.g. toys, walks) and medication if necessary.

Collie 4

Results will not be immediate and will require persistence on your part!

However, in the process, Mac may learn that he is safe, even when alone, and his separation anxiety may decrease over time.

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Remember, every dog is unique and what works for one dog may not work for another. This is why it is important to develop a personalised plan.

If you feel that you need additional help, consult an animal behaviorist who can help you develop and implement the best plan for your Mac.

Last but not least, remember that Scottish Sheepdogs form strong bonds with their families and love to participate in family activities.

For Mac to be happy and well-adjusted, he needs love, acceptance and care, as well as to know that his family is always there for him!"