You’ve probably heard the term “separation anxiety” before, but what does that really mean? Could your dog be suffering from separation anxiety? What are some of the factors that may lead dogs to develop it?
Separation anxiety is the result of dogs becoming upset over their humans leaving them home alone. Severe separation anxiety can cause dogs to try to escape, leading to potentially serious injuries to your dog, not to mention destruction of your home. Some of the life changes that can cause dogs to develop separation anxiety include changing homes/owners, schedule changes, residence changes, or adding or losing a family member.
How do you know if your dog suffers from separation anxiety? Here are 5 of the most common symptoms:
#1 – Urinating or defecating in the house
A dog that is having problems being potty trained may pee or poop inside even while their owner is around, whereas a dog suffering from separation anxiety will usually only do so when their owners leave the home. A dog that was previously house trained who suddenly starts having accidents in the house may also be suffering from a medical condition and should be taken to the vet, especially if none of the other symptoms of separation anxiety are present.
#2 – Barking or howling
Some dogs bark or howl regardless of whether or not their owner is home. However, if your neighbor tells you that your dog barks or howls when you leave the house, that’s a pretty good indicator that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
#3 – Being destructive
Whether they are trying to escape or are simply taking out their frustration on your furniture, any dog that is destructive when left alone is saying loud and clear that they hate being left alone. These dogs may injure themselves as well as causing property damage.
#4 – Escaping
Occasionally, dogs suffering from separation anxiety actually manage to escape their homes in order to search for their people. On top of the other problems faced by destructive dogs, those who escape then face being hit by a car or taken to a shelter.
#5 – Pacing
Is there a bizarre flattened area of your yard where it appears your dog paces back and forth or in circles all day long? This can be another symptom of separation anxiety, especially if you don’t see your dog pacing while you are home.
If you think your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you can learn more about it here, here, or here. You might also want to contact a certified dog trainer, especially if your dog is suffering from an extreme case of separation anxiety. It can be a frustrating issue to deal with, but there is hope for your dog to have a more stress-free life.