Pets with Problems

Why do Dogs have Separation Anxiety

As a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT) I am often asked a difficult question – Why does my dog have separation anxiety? This particular question is always difficult to answer because there can be so many reasons why a dog develops this debilitating condition. As we have said in past blogs the reason almost always could not have been avoided by the dog owner. Remember, dog separation anxiety is not your fault, but it is your job to help get your dog better. also have to resolve the other.

Why Do Some Dogs Get Separation Anxiety And Others Don’t?

Over the years there have been many studies trying to figure out why some dogs are more prone to having separation anxiety. These studies have shown that a dog can be effected by a change in the owner’s working schedule or starting work after a long period of unemployment, moving home, a divorce or death in the family, multiple rehoming, travelling alone, removal from a litter when too young, a stay in a shelter, continuous movement around foster homes, kenneling, an extended illness or not training a young puppy to be alone. However, we now know that there can be a genetic component involved and that some dogs are just more prone to having separation anxiety than others in much the same way as some people are more prone to suffering from depression than others.
Why do Dogs have Separation Anxiety

Triggers That Cause Dog Separation Anxiety

Your dog may go years without showing any signs or symptoms of this condition, then a sudden life event triggers it. You can read more about other triggers in this blog.

Keep in mind any major life change or traumatic occurrence may end up becoming this trigger. I have seen instances where a large storm or fireworks display happening when the dog is alone triggers separation anxiety and the dog was never the same until the issue was resolved by working with a CSAT like myself.

What Steps Can Be Taken To Ensure That My Dog Will Not Get Separation Anxiety?

As I said, dog separation anxiety is not always preventable. That said, there are some things you can do that may reduce your dog developing the condition. Consider this list of things you should and should not do to help reduce a potential triggering effect.

Train them slowly when puppies to learn to be alone, make sure they are never left alone during a thunderstorm or fireworks display, if you move home don’t leave them by themselves until they are used to the new home and build them up slowly to being alone. Make sure you’re your dog has enough good exercise and mental stimulation (sometimes dogs become vocal or destructive when alone because they are bored). Unfortunately, no matter what you do your dog may develop separation anxiety and if they do the only real way to overcome it is with help from a qualified separation anxiety trainer but until you do make sure your dog is NEVER alone as the more he is left the more frightened he becomes and the more difficult the condition is to resolve. 

Why do Dogs have Separation Anxiety

What Not to Do

Make sure never scold or punish your dog if they act out when you are not home. Their behaviour isn’t malicious, they are simply having a panic attack and all they are doing is trying to cope in what to them, is a terrifying situation. NEVER use devices such as shock or bark collars – they are already frightened and you do not want to frighten them any further (read our blog here about them) and simply locking them up in a crate is not the answer either – now they are not only frightened of being alone but they feel trapped as well. If your dog is stressed when alone, the only way to help them in the short term is to NEVER leave them alone for any longer than they can cope with and in the long term to work on a professional programme to desensitise them to being alone.

Contact Me For Help

If you are struggling, I cannot urge you enough to contact me for help.  The expertise I can offer is priceless when helping your dog overcome his anxiety and helping you know your dog can be happy home alone.

Please, contact me with any questions you have.  

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