Is Separation anxiety possible in dogs? Yes, very much so. If you have a dog who is very destructive at home after you leave, barks continuously when left alone, gets nervous when you get ready to go out and other such behaviors which you do not commonly observe when you are home, your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety.
Why does this happen? There could be various triggers for your pup to develop separation anxiety:
- He has not been taught to spend time alone
- Pampered a lot as a puppy
- Changed houses
- Change in daily routine (especially during the lockdown & post lockdown)
- Loss of a family member or another pet
It is important to understand what the reason could be for separation anxiety to be able to treat it.
If you have gotten home a pandemic puppy, that is a puppy during lockdown, then you would have spent a lot more time at home with your dog. And now, with things going back to normal, we are able to step out. While this is great for you, your puppy may not have been prepared for this. This is another reason why your dog could develop separation anxiety.
What are the signs of anxiety? You have to understand that there is a vast difference between normal puppy / dog behavior who is not trained properly & a dog who has developed separation anxiety.
A dog which has developed anxiety will resort to destructive behavior because of triggers that cause him a lot of stress, while an untrained dog will be destructive without stressors. It is very important to identify the real reason behind your dog’s behavior before you start exploring solutions.
Signs of Separation Anxiety:
1. Destructive chewing of furniture, owner’s shoes or other items
2. Scratching at windows & door
3. Accidents in the house even if he is toilet trained
4. Excessive barking, whining for minutes, hours at a stretch
5. Attempting to escape
Please note that most of this behavior takes place when the dogs are left alone at home, or access is not given to the room where the owner is busy doing his/her work.
What can be done? For a very mild case of separation anxiety you can take the following steps:
- Don’t make a very big deal of ‘Goodbyes’ & ‘I am back home’. Keep it low key and unimportant
- From the start encourage your puppy to spend time by himself
- Leave items that have your smell to calm your dog
- Tire your dog before leaving
It does get very frustrating to come home to a house with destroyed furniture or complaints from neighbors about the dogs barking. Consult a reputed trainer or behaviorist to help you find the right solution.
Article by Hetal Mehta (Basics in Dog Training & Agility)
Finished her MBA and turned into a certified canine trainer instead to pursue her dream. She is also passionate about photography which brought her to start her pet photography business.
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