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Is it really Separation Anxiety?

I wanted to share some information from a webinar that I have listened to a few times called Separation-Related Distress by veterinary behaviourist Dr. Lore Haug.

Many of us believe that our dog is suffering from separation anxiety but there are other separation issues to consider.  For example:

Play/exploratory behaviour; some owners believe that their dog has anxiety while they are gone but the dog is bored and has the opportunity to destroy things.

Outside stimuli; a dog can be stressed or become anxious due to something they hear or see outside for example a cat or the mailman. 

Frustration induced/confinement distress is experienced while in a kennel or bedroom and the dog will have anxiety being locked in this place. 

Isolation distress; this occurs when our dog cannot be with us (they may be outside or behind a gate). This may occur when we are home or not home. 

Storm/noise phobia this occurs when the dog is reacting to different sounds while being home alone. 

Finally, true Separation Anxiety where the dog may harm themselves, lose control of their bladder/bowels, and feel intense panic when separated from a particular individual. So the question is how do we know which one our dog has? The ability to video tape our dog gives us a lot of information as we can see their behaviour when we are not at home.

You can also ask yourself a few questions that may help you figure it out:

  • Is your dog ok in the kennel while you are home? Do they whine or have accidents?

  • Have you trained them to be comfortable in the kennel?

  • Does your dog follow you around when you are home?

  • Is your dog bonded to only one individual in the household?

  • Does your dog destroy things when you are gone, as well as when you are home?

  • Is your dog able to eat treats or a kong while you are gone?

With any type of separation issues I recommend that you have a good relationship with your Veterinarian, and rule out a medical condition before diagnosing separation anxiety.

If you are experiencing separation-related issues with your dog, get in touch to schedule a behaviour consultation with one of our Certified Professional Dog Trainers.

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