Have you ever come home after a long day to find that your dog has chewed the couch, pooped in the house, or even escaped? You may chalk this up to doggy boredom, or perhaps spite if you think your pup is mad at you for being gone all day.
These are common beliefs about dog behavior, but it isn’t about being “bad”. Instead, these behaviors signal that your dog is feeling fear, anxiety and stress. And if these behaviors happen when you’re gone, it equals separation anxiety
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety in pets is more common than we might think. In fact, up to 15% of dogs may suffer from it, according to veterinary behavioral specialists.
When dogs who are left alone fall apart, you may notice some signs that they’re feeling anxious even as you’re getting ready to leave. Watch for increased or excessive drooling, pacing, and panting as you put on your shoes and gather your keys and purse.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
You can gather a lot of information about whether or not your pet suffers from separation anxiety just by observing her behavior carefully.
Whining, barking, or vocalizing – Incessant barking while you’re gone maybe something you (unfortunately) hear about from your neighbors. But usually, some form of vocalizing begins as you’re preparing to leave the house.
Chewing or other destructive behaviors – In separation anxiety, these behaviors usually occur with personal items such as shoes, pillows, and clothing. They may also manifest as damage to exit points, such as doors and window frames.
House soiling (even when house trained) – Urinating and depositing stool in the house usually occurs in different places when linked to separation anxiety. This only happens when your dog is alone or perceives that he is alone.
You may come home to damage and destruction but still wonder if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. In order to give yourself (and your veterinarian) a clear picture, a video is worth a million words. Use your tablet, phone, or online service such as DropCam or FaceTime to catch what’s really happening when you leave.
Unfortunately many people try to curb separation anxiety on their own, or even hope that it will go away eventually. But separation anxiety is a complex problem that takes a plan, patience, and veterinary expertise to manage. It doesn’t go away on its own; in fact, it often becomes worse with time.
The ability to be confident and comfortable when you are away is an essential skill for your dog to learn. If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, contact Long Animal Hospital and Emergency Center right away. We can help put you on the right path toward helping your dog.