//Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Dogs become your very best friend and you can have the most beautiful relationship with them. But, sometimes this bond makes life a little bit difficult for your dog. This is known as separation anxiety. A dog suffering from separation anxiety can find it very hard to cope when their human is not at home. It’s also a very misunderstood disorder in animals. What exactly is separation anxiety defined as with dogs? It is a state of panic that involves specific brain chemistry which is what makes it different from separation distress. 

Separation distress is not as severe as separation anxiety. With distress, you might find that your dog has been digging holes in the garden or tends to bark a lot when you leave them on their own. This often isn’t because of them experiencing anxiety of panic. It is actually a result of boredom, frustration and sometimes anger. The difference between separation anxiety and separation distress is found in the pattern of behavior and the severity.

Photo Credit: Denniz Futalan


What Are The Symptoms?

If your pet is suffering from separation anxiety it will already start to become agitated when you start your departure routine. This includes when you start getting dressed, packing your bag or getting your keys together in order to leave the house. You may notice that your dog will start to pant, become restless, salivate, shiver or even in some cases, hide. 

What happens next? When the owner leaves, the separation anxiety behavior will start to peak within the first hour. Because owners aren’t home to watch this, you might want to invest in a camera. You can capture and assess the behavior on recording equipment. This will help you and professionals to evaluate the situation. You will know that it is most likely not anxiety based if this behavior only starts a few hours after you leave. 

One professional gave an example of when the owners came home that they would find a big puddle of saliva at the front door. Not only that, but the dog had also chewed holes in the door. Can this behavior be helped with toys or food? These aren’t very effective tools in dealing with this disorder. Owners who try this will often find the food uneaten when they arrive home or the toy in the same place. What does this mean? It shows that the dog is too anxious to engage in normal activities. However, this is a good way for owners to test for their dog’s anxiety. If you dog is just bored, leaving them with fun puzzle toys will help with their frustration and keep them occupied. 

The Severe Cases

If your dog is really suffering from anxiety they may even cause themselves injury. How do they do this? They will sometimes chew gates until their gums bleed. The dogs might also scratch doors continuously which will impact their nails. They may even try to jump over fences or squeeze through burglar bars. Let’s get to the base of the issue and understand why separation anxiety sometimes occurs. It can be for a variety of reasons. 

It is actually very common in puppies. This is understandable because they’ve had the security of their mom for their whole lives. Now, when they are taken out of that environment it can result in separation anxiety. The puppies no longer have their mom or siblings around and being left alone is scary. It will also take your puppy some time to bond with you and your family and to feel safe. You should not leave the puppy alone when it is whining or crying. 

Changing Their Circumstances

Try to help your puppy through this transition period. One way is to make them associate departure with good things like snacks and toys! You can also gradually start to increase the amount of time that you leave them by themselves. When you change the circumstances, the anxiety may be triggered. Triggers could be things like moving to a new home, being adopted from a shelter, losing an animal friend or even a human. Another trigger is being kept in a kennel for a long period of time.

Something that could also trigger your pet is a change in your behavior. This includes if you usually work from home but now are working an office job. Senior dogs or dogs that are injured or ill are also more prone to separation anxiety. It is also important to know that sometimes you won’t be able to pinpoint the trigger. All dogs can develop separation anxiety in their lives. And sometimes, dogs live happily ever after with no separation anxiety. This ultimately means that it is very tricky for the owner to predict something like this developing in their pet.

Photo Credit: Torsten Dettlaff
Triggers For Anxiety

Try to help your puppy through this transition period. One way is to make them associate departure with good things like snacks and toys! You can also gradually start to increase the amount of time that you leave them by themselves. When you change the circumstances, the anxiety may be triggered. Triggers could be things like moving to a new home, being adopted from a shelter, losing an animal friend or even a human. Another trigger is being kept in a kennel for a long period of time. Something that could also trigger your pet is a change in your behavior.

This includes if you usually work from home but now are working an office job. Senior dogs or dogs that are injured or ill are also more prone to separation anxiety. It is also important to know that sometimes you won’t be able to pinpoint the trigger. All dogs can develop separation anxiety in their lives. And sometimes, dogs live happily ever after with no separation anxiety. This ultimately means that it is very tricky for the owner to predict something like this developing in their pet. 

Address The Issue

It is not nice to see your pet suffer so it is important that you address this issue urgently. You also should not punish your dog for this type of behaviour. Your dog will start to associate getting in trouble with this and it will make it worse. It can also raise the stress level of your dog and make your pet feel even less safe when you are not at home. You might think your dog is displaying a ‘guilty look’ but with a dog with anxiety, this look is actually fear. Dogs won’t just urinate indoors because they want to or even bark non-stop. This type of behavior is the way they cope with their anxiety. So, these types of dogs do not need punishment for their behavior, they need their human to help them. 

If you think your pet is suffering from separation anxiety you will probably need to bring in the assistance of a behavioral therapist or your vet. Dogs can actually be given medication as the first step to managing their anxiety issues. It also helps you to teach them the coping mechanisms they need to relieve them of this disorder. Your dog will also need to learn new skills to help them cope with being alone. This is where a behaviorist will help you. It will be a long journey but it will be so worth it to end your dog’s suffering. Consult your vet about some behavioral therapists in your area.

2019-09-24T00:02:11+00:00By |Daily Scoop|0 Comments

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