What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation Anxiety can be defined as a syndrome, a group of symptoms, that in this case a dog shows when left alone.
The reason why the dog displays one or more of these signs is because he is terrified of being left alone and he is experiencing a panic crisis, just like the kind humans display when panicking or facing a phobia, such as fear of flying, being in small or crowded places, or arachnophobia.
This is why the dog doesn’t have any control over his actions at that moment. Those actions are completely involuntary, a consequence of the panic he is experiencing, and not a reaction due to being mad at you for leaving him alone.
Why does Separation Anxiety occur?
Separation Anxiety can affect almost any dog and it is highly prevalent among the species. It doesn’t target a specific breed and can be displayed in healthy dogs no matter the age or how proper the environment.
It is believed that there is a genetic predisposition that promotes a dog to present Separation Anxiety, given certain environmental factors that can increase the likelihood of displaying its onset, such as bad experiences when left alone in the past, traumatizing experiences, sudden changes in his routine or environment, or absences that last too long.
However, more important than finding a reason is the understanding that it is not your fault, you are not responsible for its cause. This is a panic disorder that can be fixed following the right protocol.
How does it look?
There are different signs that can be found in a dog that is displaying a panic crisis when left alone. Some dogs show more than one of them at the same time, but others just one of them. The most common signs which can be seen are barking incessantly, chewing or destroying certain objects, urinating or defecating, all of them being displayed when left alone and not when their guardians are around.
These signs don’t mean your dog is mad at you for being left alone, but an indication of how scared he is of the situation.
You are not alone!
Having a dog with Separation Anxiety can be frustrating and exhausting. More so because in most of the cases the dog behaves appropriately in all other aspects of daily life, except when left alone.
But you and your dog are not the only ones suffering from this problem! Approximately 50% of the dogs around the world show separation related problems, some of the mild cases being left unnoticed and the most severe ones ending up in rehoming or euthanasia.
The good news is that it can be solved! Following the right protocol and with the appropriate guidance and support, gradually you will be able to face your dog’s disorder and see the light at the end of the tunnel!
Why is treating Separation Anxiety so important?
It would seem reasonable that with time a dog would overcome his fear of being left alone, considering that you always comeback home. Regrettably, what really happens is that most of the dogs who display Separation Anxiety aggravate over time, if they don’t have access to proper management and training intervention.
The intensity of his display not only will progressively escalate, but the dog also will become an expert at noticing the signs that lead to their alone time (grabbing your keys, putting on your shoes, the sound of the alarm clock at mornings), anticipating the moment when you are going to leave, and showing signs earlier every time. Moreover, experiencing daily panic will chronically increase the level of certain substances in his body, which will affect his health and inhibit learning, keeping him hyper-vigilant and constantly under stress.
But you can change this! Following the right protocol, you will be able to overcome or reduce, at the dog’s speed, not only the signs, but the underlying panic that it is causing them.
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