Anxiety is a common problem in dogs. According to a recent survey based on 13,700 pet dogs, 72.5% were found to have some kind of anxiety. If you’ve maintained a strong, affectionate bond with your dog, it can face separation anxiety while being away from you.
If you feel your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you must take curative actions to help them. But before that, take the time to understand the condition.
Understanding Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Depending on the underlying cause, separation anxiety manifests in different ways in dogs. Let’s take a look at the causes and symptoms:
Change in Residence: Moving to a new home may lead to the development of separation anxiety in dogs.
Permanent Separation from Someone: When a family member dies or suddenly moves away, their absence can trigger separation anxiety.
Change in Family or Guardian: This is the most common cause. If for any reason, a family surrenders the dog to a shelter or abandons them in other ways, it might be psychologically disturbing for the dog. Both separation from family and change in the location often leaves the dog in a state of shock, which eventually translates into separation anxiety. Even if the dog is adopted by another family, a change in guardian can prove upsetting.
Change in Schedule: Separation anxiety can also be triggered by an unexpected change in schedule, especially with regards to when and how the dog is left alone. The simplest example could be a dog whose owner had been working from home, staying with the dog all the time, but now has to leave the house for work.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
While there are several symptoms of separation anxiety, they normally surface when the dog is alone at home or the parent or guardian is away. Therefore, it’s best to use a video recorder that will capture the behavior of your dog while you’re away.
Escape Attempts: When separated from their guardian or left alone, a dog suffering from separation anxiety may try to escape from the area where they’re confined. They will try to break open, chew, or dig through the windows or doors to escape. Such behavior can lead to self-injury such as damaged nails, scraped, and cut paws or broken teeth. If the dog demonstrates the behavior in the presence of the guardian, it’s not likely caused by separation anxiety. The dog is probably experiencing some other condition.
Howling or Barking: Another common symptom of separation anxiety is persistent barking or howling when separated from the guardian or left alone. The behaviour will usually only occur upon the dog being separated or left alone and continue for long periods.
Coprophagia: In many cases, a dog will defecate and then consume their own poop. This condition is known as coprophagia. If this behavior only occurs when the guardian is away, chances are the dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
House Soiling: When left alone at home, a dog experiencing separation anxiety may urinate or defecate inside your home. Again, house soiling is attributed to separation anxiety only if the dog acts this way when separated from the owner.
Pacing: Separation anxiety may also cause pacing. When separated from the owner, the dog will walk at a steady speed along a specific path in a fixed circular or straight-line pattern.
Chewing and Destruction: Many dogs experiencing separation anxiety tend to destroy household objects or chew them in frustration when left alone at home. This may also lead to self-injury to the dog.
Tips to Cure Separation Anxiety
When it’s confirmed that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, following one or more of these solutions can help cure the condition:
Put on the Radio
Hearing human voices are a tremendous remedy for many separation anxiety cases. Before leaving your dog alone at home, find a radio station that continually broadcasts shows and put it on for your dog. It will make the dog believe that they’re not completely alone. You may even record your own voice and play it before leaving. It can be a source of relief to your dog when you're away.
Keep them Preoccupied
Keeping your dog away from the empty nest while you’re away is another effective way to treat separation anxiety. You can do this by using distractions strategically. Look for puzzle toys that will keep your dog preoccupied for the longest time when they’re alone. Before leaving, give your dog the toys as a task.
Put an End to Affectionate Goodbyes
Cuddling or petting your dog with affection right before leaving them alone is a surefire way to cause separation anxiety. Instead of creating a drama out of the parting moments, act as if it’s not a big deal. Leave all that warmth and affection for the time you return and leave with nothing more than a few parting words.
In many cases, the unusual behavior in your dog is not even a result of separation anxiety, but it’s important to know how to recognise the symptoms and have a way to deal with them. Most importantly, be patient and understanding.
A lot of the issues mentioned above may be a result of boredom or maybe your dog doesn’t enjoy their food as much. If that happens to be the case, visit DhohOo to find the best dog treat for your breed. You can also use calming supplements to help your doggo deal with anxiety, whether induced by seperation or other actors such as fireworks, mental disorders, changes etc.