Separation Anxiety in dogs, as I mentioned in one of my previous articles, is primarily caused by a lack of mental stimulation when left alone. Every dog is different, however, most dogs who suffer from separation anxiety have several common traits: a heightened awareness of their surroundings, increased sensitivity, increased body excitability, and even a reduced appetite. Separation anxiety in dogs can range from mild to moderate, to severe. When the level of anxiety becomes extreme, the dog may begin responding with aggression and/or self-injury, which can sometimes be fatal.
In this article, we’ll be discussing 10 of the common signs of separation anxiety in dogs, and a few pointers on how to best deal with this disorder.
1. Excessive Barking
If your dog is barking for an extended period of time, and you know that he usually doesn’t do this when you’re gone, then this might be a sign of separation anxiety. When your dog is left alone or separated from you for extended periods of time, they become lonely and distressed. In many cases, these canines will bark lightly when their owners are getting ready to leave the house.
However, they may become desperate and start barking louder and louder until you come back home. You may also see your pet frantically running around because they desperately want you to come back immediately. Sometimes just the sound of a familiar voice can give him some comfort while you’re away, so having a family member or a friend call him while you’re at work or running errands may prevent some excessive vocalization throughout the day.
2. Destructive Behavior
When your dog begins behaving in a destructive manner: ripping up your furniture or turning your house upside down, this can be a sign of separation anxiety. The dog might destroy things he likes to use, such as his bed or toys to try and ensure you will never leave him behind. If the destruction has escalated to such an extent that it’s also interfering with your ability to function, then you may need to seek professional help for your pet.
3. Urination and Defecation
Even if your dog is house trained, you may notice that he suddenly starts urinating or defecating in the house when you leave. You may find that this change occurs as you are about to leave the home. For example, your dog suddenly starts urinating as you walk out the door. Owners who are tired of cleaning up after their fur babies may tend to think that this is simply laziness, but sometimes it’s actually due to the fact that dogs with separation anxiety may not be able to control their bowel movements or bladder while they’re feeling anxious.
If you notice your dog trying to escape the house, or yard when you leave, or if they try desperately to get out when they see that the door is being opened, you may have a separation anxiety situation on your hands. Dogs with separation anxiety may try to escape in order to be reunited with their owner. They may have a difficult time being left alone, so they try to get out when they see their owner leave.
This is one of the most dangerous symptoms of separation anxiety because when dogs are desperate to be reunited, they will do anything they can think of to find you. Even if that means hurting themselves or endangering themselves by crossing busy streets or jogging alongside cars in order to get back home quickly.
If you find that your dog whining or crying when you’re leaving the house, this could be a sign of separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety tend to do this for different reasons. It could be because they are trying to get your attention or it could be because they are feeling depressed and sad about being left alone. Some dogs whimper and woof in a pitiful manner when they realize that you are leaving the house, waiting for you outside with paws held high and wanting to come home immediately.
6. Change in Appetite
If you notice that your pup is not eating their usual meal when they are alone, this may signal that there is a problem. They might refuse to eat, even if you offer them their favorite foods or treats. Not eating can be a sign that they want you back, even though you’re just about to leave the house. If your dog doesn’t want to eat and spends most of their time alone and inactive and then begins overeating when you get home, this might be a sign of separation anxiety. This kind of behavior develops in dogs who are feeling extremely anxious about being left alone.
If you notice that your dog is pacing around the house, going from room to room, checking the door, and looking out the windows, this could be a sign of separation anxiety. Pacing is a common symptom of separation anxiety in dogs because they are not able to relax when they’re left alone. When you leave the house, your pooch becomes anxious and begins pacing around, thinking about what might happen if you never come back. Many dogs pace around during their owners’ absences due to loneliness and boredom. However, a dog with separation anxiety will pace much more frantically than usual.
Is your dog restless, jumping all over the place, and panting a lot? This could be a sign that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety will often try to keep busy with behaviors such as playing with toys or wrestling with you. When they become anxious, however, this can turn into an agitated state of mind that causes them to panic and overreact as if they were being chased by a predator.
In this state, their anxious behavior can escalate into mischief because they are not able to relax when left alone. Dogs that are suffering from separation anxiety may also become more obsessive and intrusive with the things surrounding them that might cause them to feel anxious. For example, they might start pulling on fences or digging holes in the ground around the property.
9. Obsessive Behaviors
When your dog’s separation anxiety intensifies, this is when obsessive behaviors might begin. Examples of these compulsive behaviors include excessive grooming, licking floors and walls, chewing, and even chewing on his own paws. Dogs with separation anxiety are usually confused because they aren’t sure if their owners will ever return. They continue to do the repetitive behaviors as a means of coping with anxiety about being left alone. These behaviors are not normal but are very common for dogs with separation anxiety. They may also take on a lot of destructive behavior as a way to try and cope with being alone for long periods of time.
If your dog is shaking and trembling like a leaf and appears to be exhausted and dejected, then it’s high time you addressed their separation anxiety issues. Dogs with separation anxiety might tremble because they are extremely anxious about being left alone and have no idea how long their owners will be gone assuming that it will take forever for their owners to return. Trembling can also be a sign that your dog has other underlying health problems and should be seen by a veterinarian the earliest.
Separation anxiety in dogs is more common than you might think, but it can be treated successfully with behavioral modification training. If you know that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, then take the time to make some changes. Make sure to consult with a qualified behaviorist who can help you find the best strategy for controlling your dog’s separation anxiety without resorting to harsh training or medication.
Small gestures like spending quality time with your pooch before you hit the door will help them understand that there’s nothing to be worried about and you’ll soon return. And if you have another human who can help out, it can be comforting for your pup to have another familiar face around the house before you depart.
Check out: 10 Practical Ways to Train a Dog with Separation Anxiety
You can also find many calming products for your pup to use while you are away from the house.
Thank you very much for reading the article.
To explore more, check out our other articles on separation anxiety in dogs.
Has your dog ever exhibited any one of those symptoms of separation anxiety? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!