As any seasoned dog owner knows, pooches can get up to some serious mischief if left to their own devices. Barking, chewing things they shouldn’t, forgetting their toilet training and digging trenches in the backyard are just some of the classic bad behaviours that come with the territory of owning a dog. While these behaviours may be signs that your dog requires more training, when they are coupled with other symptoms of distress, they may be signs of separation anxiety. In this article, we’ll explain what separation anxiety looks like in dogs, and what to do if you think your pet is a sufferer.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety may occur when dogs become upset or distraught when left alone by their guardians. Symptoms of separation anxiety include agitation when the owner is about to leave, anxiety or depression when left alone, and escape attempts.
The common symptoms of separation anxiety are:
- Barking and howling; while it’s normal for dogs to bark in response to stimuli, animals suffering from separation anxiety will begin barking or howling for no reason other than that they have been left alone. It may also last for extended periods of time.
- Pacing; some dogs will pace when left alone, and usually this occurs within a fixed pattern. It’s important to remember that if this is caused by separation anxiety, this type of pacing will not occur when the guardian is present.
- Destruction; behaviours such as chewing, digging, or other kinds of destruction can result in self-injury and damage to households. If your dog only exhibits this kind of behaviour when left alone, they may suffer from separation anxiety.
- Urinating or defecating; for some dogs, urinating or defecating can be a sign of separation anxiety. In some cases, the dog may defecate and then consume some or all of its excrement. If any of these behavioural patterns only take place when the dog is left alone, it may be suffering from separation anxiety.
- Escape attempts
When left alone, dogs may try to escape from the area where they are confined by digging or chewing. Escape attempts can result in injuries such as broken teeth and nails as well as cuts and scrapes.
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. Vets On Cranbourne are experienced pet professionals, and can help you to determine whether these behaviours are the result of insufficient training or are indeed caused by separation anxiety. Once diagnosed, there are a range of different treatment options to help your pet manage better when left alone. Get in touch by calling 03 5995 3444 for more information.