Your canine friends enjoy your company and are never tired around you. They are your trustworthy companions and share a unique bond with you. The welcome wagon always cheers you up with cheerful tail-wagging and prancing around!
However, your dog’s extreme joy in your company may turn troublesome when you are away from it. Experts call this behavioral issue ‘Separation Anxiety.’ In this article, let’s drill down some of the meaning, signs, and significant causes of canine separation anxiety.
Dog’s Separation Anxiety: What Are The Conditions?
Separation anxiety is a condition of distress among dogs when separated from their owners or left alone. Puppies or adult dogs may feel highly stressed and terrified when you go away from them or are left alone in the house.
Surprisingly, about 20% to 40% of dogs have recently been diagnosed with such issues. This behavioral issue may create trouble for dogs and their owners as separation anxiety may manifest into several other abnormal behaviors.
Treating this issue takes time and patience. The phase for the training-based treatment may create guilt for you. You need to consistently execute behavioral training methods to minimize this behavioral issue.
Be patient and consistent rather than expecting your dog to drastically change its behavior. Maintain a healthy relationship with your dog during this phase of transition – as you start your day-long schedules at your office.
Primary Reasons Behind Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Puppies and dogs are social creatures and feel comfortable in human company. You must have stayed at home for over a year, managing your work and spending quality time with your pup. So, your furry friends like your presence around them.
But if you suddenly start going out for your work the entire day, your dogs may become anxious as they can’t find you around. Separation anxiety may trigger when your dog is out of its ‘comfort zone’- due to your absence. Your dog starts feeling frustrated as it doesn’t find you at home.
If someone else is there at home, the dog’s separation anxiety can be recognized early and sometimes not as pronounced when left alone. Usually, dogs have one most favorite person in the family. In the absence of this ‘special human,’ dogs may act differently.
Technically, you can broadly classify separation anxiety into two types:
- Your dog is emotionally attached to you or someone in your family and shows signs of distress in their absence.
- Your dog dislikes being left alone.
Cortisol, a hormone related to response to stress among dogs, plays a vital role here. Dog behavior experts have conducted thorough research on separation anxiety. They noticed changes in the cortisol levels as dogs were left alone.
Some dogs cope with loneliness – However, some dogs begin to feel stressed and anxious when left alone or away from their favorite person at home.
How to Identify Dog Separation Anxiety?
Are there any ways you can recognize this kind of ‘frustration’ and distress? How can you make out that your dog shows early signs of separation anxiety? Let’s analyze this.
Significant signs of Separation Anxiety
You have several plans for the day at work, and you know it’s going to be super-busy. You wear your business outfit, wear your shoes, pick up your car key, and approach the door to go out. In this overall scenario, do you notice that your dog looks sad?
Your dog anticipates your ‘departure’ from home. Obviously, it doesn’t want you to go out. As you head towards the door, you may notice some negative signs from your dog.
The stress and anxiety due to separation may manifest in many mild to extreme ways, such as:
Typically, panting among dogs is for cooling down. Dogs breathe faster, keeping the tongue outside. That helps them inhale the fresh air, humidify, and exhale the air. This improves the evaporation of water through the dogs’ noses and lungs.
However, excessive panting may be caused by stress. There are emotions attached to this kind of panting. Your dog may be indicating that it is not happy as you are going away, leaving it alone.
Usually, dogs ‘seek’ something through their whining. They may be asking you to take them for a walk when they are whining next to their leash. However, whining sometimes indicates their anxiousness if you are going away, leaving them alone.
Pacing clearly indicates that your dog is under stress. Here, pacing may be the dogs’ reaction to your departure. You can feel their anxiety as you see them pacing when stepping out of the home.
Your dog doesn’t want you to go out. It may start licking your hands to convey that emotion of discomfort when you are moving out. Excessive licking may be among anxious behaviors as you leave your furry friend alone.
Following the owner
Some dogs start following their pet parents as they go out. Your dog may be trying to convey that it wants to accompany you, or it is not comfortable being alone in your absence.
Not settling down in their crate.
Sometimes, as you try to command your dog to settle in its crate, it may resist – as it anticipates you are going out. This indication may turn aggressive in some instances. Your dog doesn’t want to let you go.
As your dog grasps that you are going away, it may start barking at you. Its barking expresses your pet’s emotions, indicating it doesn’t want to get trapped alone at home. Dog parents should notice such anxious behaviors early to initiate behavioral training and treatment.
Chewing or biting to an unacceptable extent, such as causing damage to the crate, your cushions, furnishing, etc., is a sign of severe separation anxiety. Eliminating this behavioral change may take time.
Inappropriate urinating or defecating
You might have trained your puppy or dog to use a litter box. Still, if it urinates or defecates outside the litter box, that may be a sign of anxiety. Never punish your dog for such misbehavior. You need to adopt prolonged training to regain your dog’s well-manners.
Attempts to get rid of confinement
As mentioned earlier, dogs don’t settle in their crate if they feel left alone. The desperate behavior may lead to the destruction of their crate or bed. You must consider this change as increased severity of separation anxiety in your dog.
It is advisable to find an animal hospital offering behavioral counseling and training to diagnose and treat this issue at the earliest. It needs some changes to your routine as well as your patience. If untreated, separation anxiety may create adverse behavioral changes in your dogs. Consulting a pet behaviorist at the right time will help you take the necessary measures to reverse the behavior.
The article covers the meaning, primary reasons, and signs of separation anxiety among dogs.
Recognizing the issues at the earliest can help in timely prevention. Whenever you notice any separation anxiety signs in your dog, consult a vet as soon as possible.
With proper dog training techniques and early treatment, you can ensure that your furry friend recovers faster. You can search for veterinary specialties using the popular online vet discovery platform and reach out to a vet of your choice.