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Is your dog losing his/her mind when you’re not around? Well, there’s a very good chance that he/she might actually be suffering from what is known as separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a condition that is characterized by whining, barking, salivation, and destructive chewing of property. Now, when it comes to separation anxiety, it is necessary to differentiate between true separation anxiety and simulated separation anxiety.
The latter form is actually a learned behavior. Your dog is basically pretending to be anxious to get your attention. However, true separation anxiety is when your dog becomes genuinely stressed due to your absence. Simulated separation anxiety can be dealt with in a gradual manner. For instance, you can begin obedience training and increase the amount of exercise your dog gets to burn all that pent up energy. However, true separation anxiety requires more attention.
Cause of True Separation Anxiety
There are several theories as to why dogs get anxious as a result of separation. However, there is still no real answer out there. Even so, experts have managed to identify a few commonalities among dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. For instance, separation anxiety seems to affect dogs adopted from shelters more than it affects dogs that have grown up with the same family. Some believe that dogs that have experienced loss previously could be more susceptible. Similarly, even a dog’s breed could play a role here. Breeds that are known to be more “people-oriented” tend to suffer from separation anxiety.
Sudden changes can also cause a dog to develop separation anxiety. Just as humans get stressed due to change, dogs can also respond in the same manner. This is especially true if a dog gets left alone in a new environment. Even a change in the family dynamic can cause separation anxiety. For example, if a family member were to suddenly make an exit due to a job change or maybe even a divorce, the dog can be affected.
There are drugs to treat separation anxiety or anxiety in general. You will need to consult your vet concerning this. Another method involves desensitization. Here, the dog is gradually acclimatized to living without the human companion. There are animal behaviorists who can guide you better regarding this method. Generally, results are noticeable in about 8 weeks. However, the best solution is to prevent the condition. But, this can only be applied in the case of a pup. By leaving your pup alone as often as possible, you can get him/her used to being around without a companion. Another method is to use positive reinforcement. By associating something positive with your departure, you can train your pup to be alone. For instance, you can hide snacks around the house, which he/she can then spend time searching for after your exit.