Have you ever wondered why separation anxiety in dogs is a problem for some canines, but not for others? If you’re dealing with destructive dog behavior, you may be wondering if it’s because your dog is bored, or if it’s because you have one of the four to eight percent of dogs with separation anxiety.
Although a bored dog and a dog with canine separation anxiety may both engage in destructive dog behavior, the difference lies in when the behavior begins. Dogs with separation anxiety will go into a panic when their owners leave. The bad behavior starts within a half-hour (or less) of your departure. A bored dog, on the other hand, will be happy for a couple of hours, but then start destroying things to amuse himself.
Are Some Dogs More At Risk For Canine Separation Anxiety Than Others?
Separation anxiety is when a pet panics when he’s left by himself. All puppies show some signs of separation anxiety. But most of them outgrow it as they mature.
Long-nosed breeds of dogs, like herding and guarding dogs, seem more prone to this condition. It’s also seen more often in spaniels and setters. One vet noted that dogs with this problem are usually thinner and more prone to digestive upsets.
Separation anxiety in dogs happens in both males and females. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they’ve been spayed or neutered or not. It usually starts when the dog is between five months and two years of age, although older dogs can be affected as well, usually suddenly. Sometimes a dog owner thinks their older dog is becoming senile, but the problem is really separation anxiety instead.
Other Risk Factors For Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Sometimes puppies that were rejected by their mothers, or who were taken away from their mothers too soon, will develop separation anxiety. Although dogs that have been bounced from one home to another may develop it, a history of abuse doesn’t seem to make a dog prone to it.
Sometimes dogs in close-knit families who suddenly lose a family member to illness, death, or divorce develop this problem. If a favorite person leaves to go to college, or a new baby suddenly takes up a lots of the favorite person’s time, it can have an impact on a dog.
The problem of separation anxiety often runs in the family in humans, and this is true of dogs, too. A dog with a parent or litter mate who has separation anxiety is at a higher risk of developing it than a dog that doesn’t.
Sometimes the problem lies with the dog owner. It can be flattering to have a dog that follows you around, not letting you out of his sight for a second. It’s tempting to give your dog lots of attention when you get home and he’s so happy to see you that he bounces around, barking and giddy with joy, for several minutes.
However, while your dog should be happy to see you when you come home, his happy dance really shouldn’t last for more than 30 seconds to a minute. Anything longer indicates that your dog has a problem, and it’s not good to encourage it.
How Can Dogs With Separation Anxiety Be Helped?
Your vet does have drug treatments available for dogs with severe cases of canine separation anxiety, but it’s best to try dog behavior modification techniques first.
You can take steps to desensitize your dog to your leaving. This is a long process that can’t be rushed, but it can be very successful.