It’s perfectly normal for your dog to act down when you’re going out or jump with joy when you arrive. However, you can easily tell when it starts to graduate from being “normal” to a sign of a condition. Before deciding if your pet has this anxiety, you should know if they can have it at all.
Separation anxiety is almost exclusive to dogs. It happens in some cats, but it’s not nearly as frequent as in dogs. With that said, some breeds are more prone to this condition than others, with German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers topping the list.
In this article, you’ll learn some of the commonest house pets that are most prone to separation anxiety. Also, you’ll learn why some animals have this disorder and some of the things you can do to mitigate or correct this condition.
What Is Separation Anxiety in Pets?
Most people often confuse regular dog behavior with separation anxiety as they sound pretty similar. Regular dogs keep things for their friends and engage in destructive play that will leave the home looking like a mess.
However, when your pet causes many problems that are intended to help it escape, it can be linked to separation anxiety. It’s even more so if the pet only acts up when you’re away, making it a clear case induced by the separation.
Some pets may actively try to stop you from leaving the house due to anxiety. Having a pet with separation anxiety isn’t usually much fun, as you’ll be dealing with damages caused by your dog more than the happy moments you get from your obsessed dog.
If you suspect signs of separation anxiety in your pet, you should take corrective measures immediately. There are many ways to help pets deal with anxiety, but you must be certain they have the condition before trying any corrective measures?
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
The symptoms you’ll notice in your dog may vary, as this depends on your dog’s environment. While some dogs will act up as soon as they’re separated from their owners, others are much more tolerant.
Here are some of the symptoms that show that your dog is suffering from either a severe or mild case of separation anxiety.
- Destructive barking and howling.
Dogs bark and howl all the time, but you should already know if the problem isn’t normal. While they’re expected to demonstrate some joy when you come back from a vacation or walk, you might want to see your vet when the barking and howling gets destructive.
A couple of minutes after your dog is separated from its favorite person; you should expect them to get over it with time. If your dog has anxiety, they don’t get over it; they keep acting up until you show up again.
- Escape attempts.
Another fearsome characteristic of a pet undergoing separation anxiety is its tendency to escape from confinements frantically. They may try to achieve this by attempting to destroy or chew through dogs and windows when their guardian is away.
These attempts don’t only fail, but the dogs usually also injure themselves in the process. If they exhibit all of these symptoms only when their guardian is unavailable, it’s almost certainly a result of separation anxiety.
You can usually determine if unusual behavior is separation anxiety by reviewing the times when they exhibit these symptoms. If it’s usually only when you’re away, you’re likely dealing with separation anxiety.
Otherwise, you may need to see your veterinarian for a routine checkup. It’s also important to note that your dog’s symptoms may differ; your vet may be able to explain its sudden behavioral change.
What Breeds Have Separation Anxiety?
Since dogs are usually overly attached to their human guardians, they’re the only pet that shows clear signs of separation anxiety. Just like humans, some dogs take it better than others, and researchers can link the correlation with specific breeds.
If you own dogs of specific breeds, you may want to be proactive in helping them get over their separation activity. Some breeds, however, can’t care less if you’re away unless they’re having some other conditions.
According to Furbo, it appears that Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds are some of the dog breeds that are most prone to suffer from anxiety.
Other breeds, including Viszla, Bichon Frise, Toy Poodles, Jack Russel Terrier, Shorthaired Pointer, etc., all make the list of some of the dog breeds with the least resilience to separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is most prevalent when these dogs are under the age of two. Once they start to grow older, they generally learn to control their anxiety levels whenever their guardians are away for some time.
What Causes Animals to Have Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety can be triggered by an unfortunate event that happened when the dog’s guardians were away. Since dogs will always connect this event to their absence, they will begin to act up whenever they try to leave.
But that’s far from being the only reason why dogs experience this phenomenon. It’s difficult to explain the causes of separation anxiety, given that most other pets with emotions don’t experience it as much.
Focusing on the causes isn’t going to help much. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that you can’t prevent most of the causes of separating anxiety, you can only help your animals overcome it.
If your dog has been showing symptoms of being anxious when separated from you, the next section contains some actions you can take to manage the condition.
How Do You Help with Separation Anxiety in Animals?
Since preventing separation anxiety isn’t an option, how do you help your pet going through this condition?
Before attempting to help them, it’s important to note that your dog isn’t exhibiting the symptoms because it wants to. Instead, it is genuinely scared for some reason, and it wants to get rid of that scare too.
When you get the idea, it becomes quite clear that you shouldn’t be beating your dogs for acting up while undergoing this anxiety. Instead, try focusing on corrective measures that can help your dog overcome this anxiety quickly.
You may attempt training your dog to tolerate short absences by providing rewards in chews and fun toys. If your dog allows, you can leave them with a pet sitter in your absence.
If all the basics don’t work, it’s time to talk to a veterinarian or a dog sitter, or both. With their experience dealing with separation anxiety in animals, you should get useful advice for your specific case.