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7 Signs of Dog Separation Anxiety

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7 Signs of Dog Separation Anxiety

Dog separation anxiety occurs when dogs form a dysfunctionally strong attachment to their owners. Dogs who have experienced multiple traumas, abuse or abandonment, such as those who come from puppy mills, pet shelters, pet stores or those who have had multiple owners, are considered to be at the highest risk of developing separation anxiety. These dogs display signs of over-attachment when with their owners, and become genuinely distressed when left alone. Here are some of the signs of pet separation anxiety.

1) Bad Behavior Occurs Only When the Owner Is Absent

Dogs with separation anxiety misbehave when their owners are absent. This is because a dog who suffers from separation anxiety might feel a high level of tension when parted from his owner. Because dogs can't bear anxiety and tension, they'll engage in destructive behavior to relieve it. Some examples of the sort of behavior displayed by anxious dogs include:

  • Soiling the house
  • Chewing, digging or scratching
  • Destroying the owner's property, especially things that may bear the owner's scent
  • Howling, barking or whining
  • Excessive grooming

2) Chewing, Digging and Scratching Occurs Near Doors or Windows

Marks left by digging, chewing and scratching around doors or windows are indicative of something veterinary behaviorists call "barrier frustration." These areas represent avenues of escape for the anxious dog. If you're crate training a dog with separation anxiety, the dog's destructive behaviors might be directed at the crate itself. Dogs often injure themselves during such escape attempts.

3) Barking, Howling and Whining

During the Owner's Absence Dogs with separation anxiety often vocalize their distress when separated from their owners. Dogs do this in an attempt to reunite themselves with the family. Some dogs vocalize when the owner leaves them; others vocalize only while the owner is absent. Some owners don't realize that their dog is barking, whining or howling during their absence until neighbors complain.

4) Over-Attachment to the Owner When He Is Present

Dogs with separation anxiety may display signs of over-attachment when the owner is present. These behaviors include:

  • Following the owner excessively
  • Becoming anxious when the owner prepares to leave
  • Greeting the owner over-exuberantly when he returns

5) Inappropriate Elimination

Many dogs with separation anxiety mess in the house when they're separated from their owners. This isn't due to a break in housetraining. It occurs because the dog becomes so anxious that he loses control of his bowels and bladder. It's a physiological response to stress, and usually occurs about half an hour after the owner leaves the house.

6) Physical Symptoms

Many dogs suffering from separation anxiety exhibit physical symptoms as well. These can include:

  • Reduced activity level
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation

These symptoms are part of your dog's physiological response to stress. To treat them, you need to resolve the separation anxiety.

7) Displaying Anxiety

When the Owner Prepares to Leave Dogs with separation anxiety will often display anxiety when they see their owner preparing to leave. They are so needy that the very thought of being left alone makes them feel anxious. Dogs may also display signs of aggression towards an owner who is preparing to leave, including:

  • Mouthing
  • Growling
  • Nipping
  • Snarling
  • Body blocking

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