Why do dogs have separation anxiety?

April 13, 2012

Dogs are highly social in disposition and are naturally programmed to bond with other dogs, animals and with humans. Isolation, either temporarily or prolonged, can cause the dog to exhibit nervous and anxious behaviors when its owner/guardian is not present. A dog undergoing separation anxiety is feeling stressed and isolated and will present a number of behaviors.

When a dog is not allowed to follow its natural tendencies to fit into a pack, it can grow lonely without the company of its family and the benefits from fitting into a group. When a dog does not get enough attention and affection, the dog may react to separation from the fear of further isolation.

When a dog is separated from its owner either temporarily or long-term, the dog may react by displaying behaviors related to the stress of separation anxiety. A dog that is bored can also display symptoms of separation anxiety. Social isolation and lack of exercise can both contribute to separation anxiety and both causes can both be present as causes for a dog’s separation anxiety.

The symptoms of separation anxiety are more extreme than the reaction of a dog that is happily socialized and receives enough exercise and positive attention. When a dog receives too much negative attention or no attention at all, the dog can react with symptoms of separation anxiety.

It is important not to react to the dog’s anxiety with anger as this can frighten the dog. Frightening an anxious dog will heighten the dog’s stress levels. You can take positive action to alleviate separation anxiety symptoms.

It is said that a tired dog is a happy dog. This means that the dog is tired enough from exercise that it is content to lie quietly and amuse itself. Through ignoring the wild greetings and other strategies that hide your activities associated with leaving, you can deflate the excitement of arrivals and departures. You can also find ways to make sure the dog does not see you leave and you can give the dog something to do by hiding dog treats around the house before you leave.

With proper diagnosis, strategies and treatments, you can relieve your dog of its symptoms of separation anxiety. When your dog acts out its symptoms of separation anxiety, you will want to find a solution quickly because such a situation could escalate into destructive and self-destructive behaviors.

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