Separation anxiety

Dogs, Dog behaviour


What is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is when your dog is anxious without you and also when they are anxious upon your return. It has been described as similar to a panic attack for people.

Dogs are sociable creatures and, whilst some adapt well to being alone, they prefer to have company around even if they aren’t interacting with you.

Some dogs find it difficult for their owners to be away and react either as they are leaving or after they have left. This can range from a short period of whining or pacing, to howling and destruction.

You can build up training for dogs to cope better with being left alone. 

ARTICLE  » Read our tips for teaching your dog to be left alone


Symptoms of separation anxiety

When a dog’s anxiety is high it can be very distressing for dog and owner. It can, however, be difficult to diagnoses separation anxiety as the symptoms are similar to other issues. 

Being destructive, such as chewing and ripping objects, digging or scratching. 
This can also be the result of boredom or lack of exercise, as well as part of the natural development of puppies and young dogs. If the destruction is focused particularly around door or window frames then that could be more likely anxiety. 

Toileting in the house. 
If your dog is young, make sure their housetraining is good. If they are getting older, then perhaps they can no longer hold it for as long as they used to and could benefit from a check-up with your vets. If they are messing even if you are gone for a short time, even 5 minutes, then that would more likely be a sign of anxiety. 

Noise such as howling, barking or whining. 
Get a neighbour to listen out, or set a video to record. It could be reactivity to passer­bys or the postman. Solutions to this include training to get them used to doorbells and knocking, or shading the lower part of your windows. If it is sustained, then that would more likely be a sign of anxiety. 

Physical reactions such as panting, shaking or drooling as you get ready to leave.
This is a clear sign of anxiety, but take a look at when this happens so you can help your dog further when training. Is your dog distressed when a particular person leaves the house and will not settle even if other people are present? Or is it being alone completely that worries them? 


What to do if your dog has separation anxiety

If the symptoms are not too bad, then work through our tips for teaching your dog to be left alone. You will need to take it at a very gradual pace.

ARTICLE  » Read our tips for teaching your dog to be left alone

If your dog finds it very difficult and the symptoms are severe, get help from a qualified behaviourist. 

LINK » Find a qualified behaviourist near to you, with the APBC

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