Separation anxiety, how does it arise? And what can you do about it? In order to tackle the problem in the right way, it is important to first determine what the cause of the problem really is.
Separation anxiety occurs when a dog barks excessively when the owners are at home, but is these actually fear? Some dogs are not afraid, but they are just bored and thus respond to stimuli from outside, for example by barking.
Or they just go out of boredom by tearing up the nearest pillow they can lay eyes upon and spilling the fluffy content everywhere on the floor.
There are a number of indicators that can point to separation anxiety. These are for example:
- Wanting to be with the owner all day, walking into the house behind the owner in a very affectionate way
- Sometimes it is a somewhat uncertain character
- Great restlessness when the dog notices that the owner is going to leave
- Exaggerated when the owner comes back again
- Do not want to eat while being alone, not even sweets and the like
- Sometimes uncleanness while being alone
- During being alone; gasping, barking, wheezing and / or whining, great stress
Depression anxiety can express itself in different ways. There are dogs that are going to vocalize a lot; barking, whining, squealing. There are dogs that break things up, or scratching walls or doors to try and get away from being alone. These are far-reaching things that the owner and the environment often suffer from.
However, a dog can also express his fear in a less expressive way. For example, by licking or chewing his own legs, often leading to skin irritation and eventually
injuries. Or the dog runs anxiously through the house back and forth, or is just shivering in a corner. For the owner and environment this is less damaging behavior, but for the dog of course it is just as bad as any other behaviour.
To be able to determine whether there is separation anxiety, a video recording is always very useful. Show the video to an expert behavioral therapist. Thus, based on the behavior of the dog in the video, and by asking specific questions, the therapist can determine whether there is separation anxiety or not.
How does separation anxiety develop?
There can be different causes of separation anxiety. Sometimes there is only one cause, sometimes it is a combination of multiple factors.
- For example, the dog may be experiencing shock from something he has seen while he was alone at home, and has the scaring experience linked to being alone. This is sometimes seen in dogs who are left alone at the turn of the year .. But also something ‘daily’ like a bike that falls over by the wind can be enough for some dogs to be terribly shocked.
- Something may suddenly change in the life of the dog, someone is going to work again or more, somebody in the household can die, life as it is just became suddenly different, and that gives a sense of insecurity.
- Old age, and the physical and mental decline that goes with it can make a dog very insecure and can lead to separation anxiety.
- But what often plays a big role is the fact that the dog has never really been taught to be alone. Maybe it was not necessary before because the dog always went to work, or because there was always someone at home. That is why it is advisable to teach a puppy step by step from the beginning to be alone.
The breed of your dog can also play a role. Breeds that have traditionally been bred to work with the owner during the day can sometimes cause separation anxiety.
Consider, for example, different types of standing hunting dogs, setters, spaniels, retrievers and shepherd dogs, Also the breeds that were bred mainly as a companion dog exhibits more chances of separation anxiety
What can you do about it?
Depression anxiety is a problem that requires a lot of perseverance and patience if you want to solve it properly. Ask for help from an expert behaviorial therapist, who will review your specific situation and give you appropriate advice.
Part of the therapy will in any case be to teach the dog step by step how to become more independent. This starts already while the owner is still at home. Do not let the dog sit anymore continuously on your lap or at your feet, but give him his own comfortable berth and teach him to lie down there. Gradually this is extended to other rooms. This really needs to be done in small steps to prevent the dog from jumping back into stress and anxiety.
In some cases, behavioral medication can support therapy. Always consult with a psychological behavior therapist and of course the veterinarian. Homeopathic work for some dogs while dietary supplements works for some.
You will notice, separation anxiety is a complex problem, with no ‘standard’ solution. Every dog is unique, and that’s why a therapist will look at your dog, listen to your story and take your situation into account when drawing up a therapy plan. This is to find a solution to the problem as quickly as possible!
Does your dog have problems with being alone? Help your dog!
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