We all know our fur-babies to be man’s best friend. Likewise, our dogs know us to be their best friends, caregivers, and lifelong companions. The strong relationship that we develop with our dogs sometimes leads them to experience separation anxiety when we are absent. By understanding the signs and root causes of canine separation anxiety, the more likely it is that we can help relieve and treat this anxiety in our furry babies.
Be aware that while some of these behaviors may seem common in our dogs, they may also be signs of separation anxiety!
These are some of the most common signs of separation anxiety in dogs. Dogs may start barking, howling, or whining as soon as their guardian leaves. Many dogs also understand the routine of when their owners are getting ready to leave, and these behaviors might also begin before their guardians actually leave their presence.
When left alone, dogs may exhibit destructive behavior by chewing or gnawing at anything they can get their paws on. This behavior may be a strong indication that a dog may have separation anxiety, especially if this behavior is something that only occurs when alone.
Urinating or Defecating
If you come home to find that your dog has used the bathroom inside, and this is not normal behavior while you are home with them, your dog may suffer from separation anxiety. Pay close attention to your dog’s normal behaviors with using the bathroom, and the time frame that they usually need to be let outside. This will help determine if their indoor bathroom incidents may stem from separation anxiety.
Pacing and Attempting to Escape
This is another example of a behavior that normally would not occur if a dog’s guardian is present. Many dogs attempt to chew or force themselves out of an area when they are left alone as a response to their feeling of separation anxiety. Dogs may also pace back and forth, or in circles in the absence of their owner or guardian.
Roots and Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
While there is no proven answer as to why dogs develop separation anxiety in their lifetime, there are situations that may trigger the onset of separation anxiety.
Dogs who have spent some of their lives in animal shelters have either experienced the event of being handed over by their previous owners, or they have known no other life outside of shelter walls. For the dogs who have been previously handed over to a shelter, the immediate feeling they experience is abandonment. They lose the connection and bond that they once had with previous owners, and are forced to adapt to shelter life without a sole guardian. This heightens the chances of these dogs developing separation anxiety with new owners, as they fear that being left alone will result in another experience of being abandoned.
For dogs who have spent their entire lives behind the walls of an animal shelter, they lack the relationship and bond that is present between dogs and their owners. This kind of background is likely to elicit separation anxiety in these dogs when they find their forever homes, and become bonded with their first owners. They may show signs of anxiety such as pacing, barking, and being destructive when their guardians are not present in their fears of abandonment from their newly made connection.
Dogs are creatures of routine, and they become accustomed to specific routines that they have with their owners on a day to day basis. When this routine abruptly changes, or other major changes occur, our furry friends may begin to show the signs of separation anxiety. Some of these changes may include:
Moving to a new location with their owners
A change in the time frame that they are left alone
A loss or addition of household members
Mild cases of canine separation anxiety can be treated at home, and help your furry friend become more comfortable while home alone.