How To Tell If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety – As a veterinary behaviorist, I see dogs suffering from separation anxiety on a weekly basis, and it is one of the most serious problems I deal with. Not only do many of my canine patients experience real panic when left alone, but the people who share their lives are often just as affected. They experience a range of emotions, from guilt at having to leave their dog alone, shame because they feel they caused the problem, frustration because nothing they’ve tried has helped, and isolation because they avoid leaving the house . In other words, it is a question of human and animal welfare.

My first step in working with these dogs and their families is to confirm that the dog does indeed have separation anxiety. Sometimes this is very simple. My patient dog comes with the classic history of soiling the house, barking, howling or whining repeatedly, destroying things when left home alone, or a combination of these behaviors. Her people report that she shows these signs of distress even when she is alone for a few minutes. Neighbors have complained about the volume and duration of her barking, and the entrance to her home is covered in teeth and claw marks. She grunts at any sign of an imminent departure, and while her enthusiastic greetings are heartwarming, they’re a little over the top.

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

In other cases, the picture is a bit more complicated. For example, a dog’s people bring it in because the neighbors complained about excessive barking, but they themselves never heard it chirping. They wonder if their neighbors are mistaking him for the other dog down the hall – there is no evidence that anything went wrong in their absence. Or I might see a dog because she occasionally rearranges and destroys things when she’s home alone, but doesn’t seem to notice her person’s preparations to leave the house. Do any of these dogs really have separation anxiety or is there something else going on?

Easing Your Pup Into Post Pandemic Life

If you’re not sure if your dog has separation anxiety or you suspect he does, get videos!

Videotaping your dog while it is home alone is the most effective and accurate way to determine if it has separation anxiety. Ideally, you’ll want a video of her reacting to a few different scenarios, including how she reacts:

In most cases, you’ll want to record or watch at least the first 30-60 minutes after your departure. Dogs with separation anxiety usually show signs of distress within this period, many within the first 10 minutes of being left alone. When reviewing the footage, pay attention to what happens before any bout of destruction, barking/shouting or soiling the house, and look for more subtle signs of distress such as general restlessness, panting, lip licking and whining. This information helps determine the severity of the problem and the optimal course of treatment.

If you’re one of those pet parents whose neighbors have complained about your dog barking while you’re out and you doubt the accuracy of their report, record your entire absence. You may find that these reports are accurate – your dog starts barking within minutes of your departure and keeps it up for most of your absence. Or you may find that he goes through cycles of barking/howling and resting, and shows other signs of stress such as pacing, panting and lip licking. Based on these videos, your dog is experiencing significant distress and now you know exactly what is going on.

When Your Pet Has Separation Anxiety

It is also possible to take this video and see that your dog sleeps peacefully all day, except for the few times when he gets up, goes to the door and barks 2-3 times before going back to his nap. If you repeat these videos on a few different days under a few different conditions and see the same thing, your dog probably isn’t experiencing separation anxiety and now you have some evidence to show building management about the true extent of the barking.

Fortunately, video cameras are now readily available and integrated into many of the devices we have in our homes. Good options include:

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Separation Anxiety In Dogs

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