Separation Anxiety

 

Separation anxiety is one of the most difficult behaviour problems to deal with in dogs because successful modification relies on people being present at all times during what can be a long training process. It is a hugely important problem to solve, both for dog and owner, as separation anxiety is one of the main reasons why dogs are relinquished to shelters every year.

 

Dogs and humans have a mutual need to form social attachments, and while dogs may suffer from a little separation distress at times, most of us learn to cope with a person’s absence. In contrast, there are some dogs that become anxious when left alone and exhibit some or all of the classic signs of that anxiety including:

 

  • excessive vocalization (barking)

  • pacing and restlessness

  • whining and crying

  • panting

  • drooling

  • vomiting

  • toileting

  • chewing

  • eating through walls

  • destroying points of entry

  • jumping through open and/or closed windows

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Separation anxiety has many causes, but it is believed that genetics and/or an early history of abandonment can contribute to what can quickly develop into a deeply rooted problem which is highly resistant to change.

 

Before a treatment plan can be designed, it is important to make sure your dog is suffering from anxiety rather than just being a bored dog trying to entertain herself during your absence. Setting up a video camera and recording your dog’s actions while she is alone will give a more accurate picture as to the cause of the behaviour.