Separation anxiety is a disorder that affects many dogs of any age and breed. However, some breeds are more prone to suffer from abandonment neurosis, especially small dogs such as Jack Russel. This behavioral disorder is not always spotted by owners who wrongly punish their dogs. To better understand what separation anxiety in dogs is, here is an article on the causes, origins, and solutions to treat your anxious dog.
Why does a dog suffer from separation anxiety? What are the causes of separation anxiety? What are the symptoms of a dog suffering from separation anxiety?
How does separation anxiety manifest itself in a dog?
A dog with separation anxiety disorder shows a change in behavior every time it becomes separated from its owner, for example when the owner goes out and leaves it at home. In the absence of its owner, the anxious animal will start to express his distress in all possible and unimaginable ways.
It will start squeaking, crying, and howling to death, and will be agitated all over the house. It may adopt destructive behavior by attacking furniture, plants, books, in short everything it can destroy. In some severe cases, they can self-mutilate by pulling out their hair, scratching and gnawing their legs until they bleed.
But this behavioral disorder does not only occur in the absence of the master. When a dog is too attached to his master and can no longer live without him, it becomes extremely sticky with him. He follows him everywhere, is always looking for attention, cries for nothing.
While walking or outside, the dog who suffers from separation anxiety does not move away from his master, as soon as the master moves away the dog runs to follow him and continuously makes sure he stays close by.
It is absolutely not healthy for a dog to suffer from this condition and for this reason if you observe that your dog behaves in the manner described above it is advisable to consult a professional.
Why does a dog suffer from separation anxiety?
This pathology manifests itself from the earliest age of the dog, in fact, it is often the education that was given to him when he was just a puppy that plays on this behavioral disorder. Although there are other reasons.
When the bitch is training her puppies, there comes a time when she starts to put distance between her litter and herself by no longer responding to the puppies’ requests and by pushing them away so that they start to detach themselves from her and become independent. In this way, by the time they reach puberty the dog is no longer dependent on his mother and can live his life.
If the puppy leaves his home for another one where he is all alone, his master will become his new point of reference and the puppy will quickly become attached to him. When we adopt a young puppy we are often gaga with him, we cover him with hugs and let him do whatever he wants. Even if this is not done with bad intentions, it is important to know that cuddling your puppy too much can have repercussions when he grows up.
This over-affection will have made him very dependent on his master, thus preventing any process of detachment. This is how a dog begins to suffer from separation anxiety since any absence of the master will be a total heartbreak for the animal.
Dogs that have been abandoned also tend to suffer from this condition. Indeed, the master’s departure may be perceived as a new abandonment and become a major source of anxiety for the animal, which will express its distress through destructive behavior.
And while it is a good idea to reassure your dog before each departure and to celebrate as soon as you return home, in reality, this behavior drastically promotes separation anxiety. Certain behaviors of the owners are not in favor of the behavior of our dogs, such as letting them sleep with us.
How can you prevent your dog from suffering from separation anxiety?
If you have just adopted a young dog, it is imperative to create the detachment that his mother would have operated. Cuddles and excessive affection must be limited, he must be taught to stay alone and to be independent of you.
However, if your dog is already showing signs of abandonment neurosis, you must begin to act so that his case does not become more serious. Thus, it is necessary to gradually break your pet’s dependence by teaching him to live away from you.
Start by preventing him from sleeping in the same room as you at night, the first times will be difficult but little by little he will adapt to the situation. Limit interactions and no longer respond to all his requests for attention. This doesn’t mean that you should stop showing affection, but it should be on your own initiative when you want it, not as soon as he wants it. He needs to learn that he’s no longer a baby and that he needs to become independent.
Stop responding to his every whim, for example, if you have a garden and your dog doesn’t stop crying at the door after 5 minutes as soon as he’s outside you shouldn’t respond.
It’s also important to break the cuddling ritual before and after each outing. It is not normal that you have to reassure your dog 15 minutes after you leave the house. Set up fake outings by going out without paying attention to him and come back 5-10 minutes later.
This solution is also valid by locking the dog in a room other than yours (with his toys and basket of course) and entering it from time to time without paying attention to him. All this serves to detach him and to trivialize your departures so that he understands that it is normal that you leave him alone from time to time.
However, if after several months your dog is not able to detach himself from you it is possible to consult a professional in dog behavior and education. The advice of your veterinarian is also important in the whole process of detachment. But be aware that it is possible to treat a dog that suffers from separation anxiety.