Separation anxiety in dogs is one of the most frequent behavior problems, since it represents between 20% and 40% of canine ethology and behavior consultations.
It is important to be able to identify it as soon as possible, help our furry friend and prevent him from suffering so much anguish after our departure.
What is separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety in dogs is a behavioral syndrome , this means that it is related to canine conduct and behavior.
The dog suffers excessive stress when left alone, without the presence of its owner, and shows a series of symptoms that can help us recognize this problem.
It is a multifactorial condition, that is, there are many factors that can determine the appearance of anxiety in your little one.
And how do I know if my dog has separation anxiety? For this, it is important to know and recognize the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs, and thus face the current situation or prevent future problems.
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When does separation anxiety appear?
Separation anxiety can occur in dogs of all breeds and all ages . Normally it occurs more frequently in young dogs-puppies and in geriatrics.
The learning process in puppies is important to control the feeling of hyperattachment, that is, excessive dependence on the owner.
In the case of elderly dogs, anxiety is increased due to the loss of their sensory abilities.
There are also situations that predispose to the development of separation anxiety in dogs :
- The first time a dog is left alone , without human company. It is usually a frequent situation in puppies, where they must learn and accept that loneliness little by little. If you want to help your furry in this process, there are tools and actions with which he will feel safe.
- After a traumatic episode for the dog. For example, in dogs that have suffered abandonment, have spent time in the animal shelter or have been mistreated. In these cases, the stress of being alone again, without their human reference of attention and affection, can trigger situations of stress and anguish.
- If the dog loses a loved one. Grief is also present in our pets and the permanent separation of a family member can trigger a lot of stress, anguish and grief.
- Changes in your routine. This can complete the previous section, since the absence of a family member in the home (travel, emancipation, etc.), a move to a new home, changes in our work schedule or the introduction of a new member in the family ( person or animal), can destabilize our friend’s daily routine and therefore generate a lot of anxiety.
Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs
Each dog can manifest the problem in different ways and there is no standard rule that covers all situations equally.
However, there are some very clear behaviors that can make us suspect separation anxiety in our furry and they are the following:
- Excessive vocalization. Our four-legged companion begins to bark since we left and his anguish does not cease as time goes by. The stress that he experiences causes him to go into a state of absolute nervousness, where he is unable to stop barking.
- destructive behavior Every time the dog is left alone, he dedicates himself to destroying and breaking all the household items that may be within his reach. This includes both his belongings (his bed, toys, accessories…) as well as furniture, rubbish, walls, food and any object.
- Inappropriate urination and defecation. Our pet may be the most educated in the world and knows perfectly where the needs are performed, but when it is left alone, things are very different. If you urinate or defecate in places where you shouldn’t (inside the house, on the bed or sofa, on our clothes, etc.), it can be a separation anxiety alarm.
- Stop eating and drinking. Another sign that can be related to separation anxiety is when a dog does not eat or drink in our absence. We will be able to observe the full containers of him when we return home.
- Salivation, vomiting, diarrhea or self-injurious behavior. These symptoms are not usually the most frequent, but in severe cases of anxiety, they can occur secondary to a highly stressful situation for the animal.
How do I treat my dog’s separation anxiety?
Once we know how to recognize whether or not our dog suffers from separation anxiety, the next step is to get down to work to help him in this stressful situation.
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The best option would be to talk to a qualified professional to work on behavior modification techniques , especially indicated for the particular case of our pet.
In this way, we will be able to confirm whether or not our furry suffers from this problem, or if instead, we are faced with a case of lack of stimulation due to boredom, little activity, and even fear.
There are many tools that can help us solve the problem, such as:
- Perform physical exercise before staying alone. Taking your furry for a walk at least three times a day will also help the tiredness after physical exercise to keep it calmer.
- Take small short outings. We can start by leaving the house for a few minutes and coming back in, showing him that we will always come back. Little by little we can lengthen the time progressively.
- Use stimulating toys. Nowadays there are food dispensing toys that can keep our dog away from boredom and keep him entertained for a while.
- Pheromones. The use of pheromones can calm our furry, especially in puppies that are learning. There are also drugs that can help us, however, they should always be used after a veterinary examination that approves their use .
You already know what separation anxiety in dogs is and what symptoms may be present in this syndrome.
However, if you think your furry friend suffers from anxiety and you rule out the reason for the separation, we will teach you how to deal with an anxious dog.
From My New Best Friend we remind you that each dog is unique and each situation is special, so we highlight the importance of contacting your trusted veterinarian so that your best friend has the best care. 🐶💚