When you leave the house, does your dog appear a little tense? Do you come home to see your stuff ruined? Is your dog unsteady with excitement when you get home? If you responded yes to any of these questions, your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety. Dogs are group animals who enjoy the company and might grow uneasy when separated from their owners. The good news is that if your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you can help them feel better.
Dogs are social creatures, and they must learn that it is acceptable to leave them alone at home. However, the epidemic and consequent lockdowns have made learning to do so extremely difficult for them.
So, what is separation anxiety, and what are the signs that indicate that your dog has separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety in dogs is one of the most prevalent terms used by owners to describe a dog who appears stressed when the owner leaves the house or even just leaves the room.
What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Separation anxiety is a frequent canine illness, with an estimated 13 to 18 percent of dogs exhibiting symptoms and 20 to 40 percent of dogs brought to behavioral specialists being diagnosed with the disorder.
Simply put, separation anxiety occurs when a dog is separated from his\her owner or left alone. If your dog has separation anxiety, it causes a lot of pain for both people and dogs because it can express a variety of uncomfortable behaviors, it’s difficult to treat, and it can induce stress and guilt in the owner.
They may occasionally show destructive behaviors as a result of their anxiety. Dogs can suffer from separation anxiety for a variety of reasons, but the most prevalent is that they have never been taught that being alone is okay.
Difference between: Dog separation anxiety and normal dog behavior
Separation anxiety is a serious condition that extends beyond the occasional unhappy whimper as you leave the house or the tattered sock that awaits your return. Separation anxiety is not the same as boredom, and unlike a little mischief when your dog is left alone, it is caused by actual stress.
Make sure it’s not a case of insufficient training before categorizing ruined pillows or potty accidents as SA. Do you think your dog understands excellent manners even when you’re not looking? Is he completely potty trained? Audio or videotaping your dog’s behavior while you’re away is one of the finest methods to see what’s going on while you’re gone.
Signs of separation anxiety in dogs
Dogs can show tension and fear in a variety of ways, so if your dog displays only one or two of these behaviors, you may not need to be concerned. If they display numerous of the behaviors described below regularly, your dog is most certainly suffering from separation anxiety. When these behaviors are more typical while you are away, they can begin to appear as you prepare to leave.
If your neighbors complain that your dog barks a lot during the day, it could be a sign of separation anxiety. Anxiety is typically the cause of odd or out-of-character barking. A chatty beagle, for example, is likely to be vocal whether or not his family is present. However, if your normally quiet Labrador has been wailing all afternoon, he may be agitated.
When you leave, Houpt recommends giving your dog a long-lasting and extremely delectable treat as a nice alternative to barking. Although you may make your treat toys and food puzzles with frozen peanut butter, there are also many specially designed treat toys and food puzzles available.
Check up on your dog regularly if you have a nanny cam or a home security system. He could be suffering from separation anxiety if he paces for most of the day. They only do it when you’re not around. “Many people believe their dog is irritated with them, but when they notice the pacing, they know they’re wrong.”
Separation anxiety can cause a dog to pace in straight lines, circles, or a set path through the house.
Many dogs who are separated from their owners will engage in destructive behavior. Doors, which your dog may chew or paw at in an attempt to escape, and couches, which provide cozy “nesting” material, are both common targets. Your personal belongings, such as shoes or sunglasses, may be in jeopardy since they remind your dog of his favorite human.
According to Houpt, it’s critical to remember that your dog isn’t acting out of spite. “We don’t believe dogs are capable of being vengeful,” she argues. “He’s not thinking to himself, ‘I’m furious that she’s leaving; I’m going to trash her pumps.’ He’s worried.
Is it always possible to prevent Dog separation anxiety?
Have you been working from home and will now return to an office, or have you spent the last month or so on vacation, or have you spent the last few weeks settling in a new pet? If you have been your pet’s constant companion but will no longer be, he\she may become confused and develop separation anxiety. There are several things you can do to help your pet adjust to the change. Here are some of our best recommendations for assisting your pet in adjusting to their new routine:
- Begin gradually establishing your new regimen. Our pets rely on routines, so making incremental alterations will help them adjust to not being at home all of the time.
- Allow them to become accustomed to being at home without you. Several times a day, introduce brief durations of separation.
- Allowing your pet to enjoy some alone time will make them feel more secure when left alone for long periods. For short periods, put them in a safe and pleasant room apart from you.
- Don’t offer your pet any more attention than they’ll get when you’re not around all the time.
- Encourage fun when you’re not around.
- When leaving or returning home, avoid causing a scene. Try to ignore your dog 15 minutes before leaving and for the first few minutes after returning before softly greeting him.
If you’re noticing any of these signs in your dog, it may be time to consider a separation anxiety treatment plan. There are plenty of things that can cause separation anxiety and the best way to figure out what’s going on is by getting professional help from a certified animal behaviorist or a veterinary specialist. They’ll know how to diagnose the root issue so they can give your pup some relief from their symptoms. Which sign has been most prevalent for you?