Separation anxiety can be a difficult issue to deal with, and figuring out early on that your dog has it is crucial to the success of helping them overcome it. Here are six clues that might indicate that your dog struggles with separation anxiety.
Your dog’s breed is predisposed to anxiety
Some breeds are more sensitive than others. Some breeds are very dependent on their humans, while others are more independent. Some of this comes down to the breed, and some of it comes down to the genetics of a particular dog.
For example, white labradors are somewhat predisposed to separation anxiety. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all white labs have separation anxiety, however, if one of both parents of a puppy had anxiety, it is more likely that the puppy could develop anxiety.
If you want to adopt a breed that you know is predisposed to separation anxiety, such as a white lab, visit a reputable white lab breeder. A good breeder will tell you the temperaments of the dog’s parents and help match you to a puppy whose temperament is a good fit for your lifestyle.
Your dog has “forgotten” potty training
If you keep coming home to accidents inside your house, it could indicate your dog has anxiety while you are gone. Some dogs urinate to relieve themselves of stress.
According to Adelaide doggy daycare Kip, there are many other reasons your dog could be urinating or defecating in the house, including old age, a medical condition, or simply not getting enough walks, so make sure to rule those out first. If your dog urinates in the house while you’re home, it is probably not caused by separation anxiety.
Your dog destroys furniture while you’re gone
Some dogs dig, chew, or engage in other “destructive” behaviors to relieve their internal anxiety. This could mean clawing at furniture, chewing up window ledges, or scratching at the bottom of doors. This behavior can lead to injury, so it’s crucial to address it early on.
Your dog barks and howls all day
While some barking is normal, a dog that barks all day while it is alone is not a happy dog. Repetitive barking is a self-soothing behavior that releases stress. Check in with your neighbors to see if your dog has been barking or howling while you are not there.
Your dog escapes
Escaping is one of the most dangerous symptoms of separation anxiety. If your dog escapes, it is most likely because it is trying to follow you or find you. Unfortunately, dogs who escape are often hit by cars, lost, or killed by wildlife.
While you are working on training to mitigate separation anxiety, make sure your dog is always left in a secure place that it cannot escape.
Your dog paces
Pacing is another stress-relieving behavior for dogs. The pacing doesn’t always indicate separation anxiety—a dog who paces could be bored, in pain, or not getting enough exercise. However, if the only time a dog paces is when it is left alone all day, separation anxiety is the most likely cause.
Your dog engages in coprophagia
Some dogs will defecate and then eat some or all of their excrement when left alone. There are other reasons a dog may do this, so monitor your dog to find out if separation anxiety is the cause. If the dog does it in your presence, it is something other than separation anxiety.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, the best thing to do is contact your veterinarian. Usually, separation anxiety requires anxiety-reduction training and intervention from a qualified behavioral specialist. In extreme circumstances, your vet may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication for your dog.
Don’t let your dog suffer in silence. The sooner you deal with separation anxiety, the sooner your dog (and your home) will be relieved of its symptoms.