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Does your dog get stressed when left home alone? Find out all about separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is a common behavioral disorder in dogs that can cause significant distress and affects approximately 15% of dogs. It can manifest itself through destructive behaviors, excessive barking, urinating or defecating inside the house, and in more severe cases, self-injury.

Some of the factors that may contribute to separation anxiety in dogs include a history of neglect, lack of socialization, sudden changes in the animal’s routine or environment, and excessive dependence on a particular person.

Symptoms and possible causes of separation anxiety in dogs

Separation anxiety in dogs is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including destructive behaviors, excessive barking or howling, and emptying of the bladder or bowels when left alone. These symptoms can be distressing and lead to a strained relationship between the pet and the owner.

On the other hand, the causes of separation anxiety in dogs are complex and can vary from dog to dog. However, the disorder is usually associated with two underlying factors: hyper-attachment to the person and discomfort or insecurity in space.

Some possible causes of separation anxiety in dogs include:

     

      • Hyper-attached relationship with their caregiver or overprotectiveness on their part.

      • Changes in the pet’s routine or environment, such as moving to a new home or changes in the owner’s schedule.

      • Past experiences of abandonment or neglect.

    It is important to note that separation anxiety can affect dogs of any breed or age, although some.

    Which dog breeds are most prone to separation anxiety?

    Breeds that are particularly susceptible to separation anxiety include:

       

        • Labrador retriever.

        • Golden retriever.

        • Dachshund.

        • English Bulldog.

      While these breeds are more likely to exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety, it is essential to remember that any dog can develop the disorder.

      Techniques to help dogs cope with separation anxiety

         

          • Gradual desensitization

        One of the most effective techniques for helping dogs cope with separation anxiety is gradual desensitization. It involves exposing the dog to progressively longer periods of separation, starting with very short periods and gradually increasing over time.

           

            • Positive reinforcement training

          Positive reinforcement training is another effective technique for helping dogs cope with separation anxiety. It involves rewarding the dog for calm and relaxed behavior during separation and ignoring or redirecting any anxious or destructive behavior.

          By reinforcing calm behavior and ignoring anxious behavior, dogs can learn to associate separation with positive experiences and gradually become more comfortable being alone.

             

              • Use of medications and tranquilizers

            For some dogs, the use of medications and calming aids may be necessary to help them cope with separation anxiety. These may include natural supplements, such as chamomile or valerian root, or prescription medications, such as anxiolytics or antidepressants.

            It is essential to work with a veterinarian to determine the best treatment for your dog, as each dog’s needs may differ. In addition, it is crucial to remember that these aids and medications should be used in conjunction with behavioral training techniques.

            How to prevent separation anxiety in dogs?

            Socialization and training from an early age can go a long way in preventing separation anxiety in dogs. By exposing puppies to people, animals, and environments, they can learn to feel comfortable and safe in many situations.

            Socialization can also help dogs develop positive associations with solitude, which reduces the likelihood of anxiety when left alone.  According to some studies conducted in England, most dogs that suffer from separation anxiety are those that were not properly socialized when they were between 5 and 10 months old. One solution to this may be crate training, as it can teach dogs to see their crate as a safe space, giving them a sense of comfort and security when their owners are away.

            Establishing a consistent routine is another essential way to prevent separation anxiety in dogs. Dogs thrive on predictability and routine, and having a consistent schedule can help them feel more secure and less anxious. It can include schedules for feeding, exercise, and play, as well as a set routine for departures and arrivals.

            Avoiding reinforcing anxious behaviors is also crucial to preventing separation anxiety in dogs. Owners should avoid making a lot of fuss when leaving or returning home, as this can reinforce anxious behaviors and make the dog more dependent on your presence.

            If you have a dog and have noticed signs of separation anxiety, it is best to seek professional help. With proper treatment and care, most dogs with separation anxiety can learn to control their symptoms and lead happy, healthy lives.

            If you always want to see your pet happy, give it Pawcorn. It’s a healthy and tasty snack with 13 different flavors.