Anxiety is one of the single most common behavior problem pup parents enquire about. Why does my dog cry/bark/dig/pace/house soil/destroy property when I leave her home alone? Separation anxiety in dogs can manifest itself in many different ways, from mildly inconvenient behaviors to activities that threaten their very health and safety. Luckily, there are answers to your questions and resources to help your pup through this frightening and frustrating issue!
We sat down with one of our favorite pet experts, Dina Fantegrossi (a vet tech and animal researcher/writer by trade), to help address the top anxiety questions we get from readers. We hope her knowledge can inform and address some of the questions you may have about your pup.
Q: Why is my dog suffering from separation anxiety? I feel so helpless!
Dina: Unfortunately, we do not fully understand why some dogs experience separation anxiety and others do not. Shelter dogs seem to develop this distressing problem more often than those kept by a single family since puppyhood. While there is no proof that genetics play a role, separation anxiety tends to be more prevalent in high energy and people-oriented breeds.
It is normal for loving dog parents to experience feelings of guilt and helplessness when their pups show signs of separation anxiety – we never want to see our furry BFFs suffer – but rather than focusing on “why,” it is far more productive to to channel your efforts toward finding a solution.
Q: What are the most common triggers of this condition?
Dina: While not all dogs with separation anxiety have a specific trigger, there are certain life changes that can spark anxious behaviors. Dogs that have lost a trusted guardian through death or abandonment may understandably become more anxious when separated from their new families. Changes in schedule, moving to a new home, and the sudden absence of a loved family member – like a child going off to college or the loss of a pet – can also result in separation anxiety.