Pet Info

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a severely distressed state in dogs related to the dog being excessively or overly-bonded to its owners. It is manifested in a variety of behaviours only seen when the dog doesn’t have access to its owner.

Pre-disposing factors

Breeds affected

Separation anxiety is no more prevalent in crossbred or purebred dogs.

Symptoms

The signs of separation anxiety include one or more of the following:

When the dog doesn’t have assess to its owner...

In the presence of the owner the dog…

Keeping a diary or using a video or a sound-activated recording device will help identify if and when behaviours are occurring and for how long. They can also provide a baseline to which you can compare recordings during the treatment programme. Owners can leave for short periods (15 minutes) and return to observe what has occurred.

Treatment

The type of behaviour modification will depend on the severity of the clinical signs. A good rule of thumb is to do no more than the dog can easily cope with and always finish on a good note.

Start with relaxation and other short term strategies then gradually build up to a desensitisation programme once the dog is more confident, obedient and relaxed.

For the successful resolution of this problem, treatment takes time, effort and commitment on the owner’s and the clinic’s part. Generally, the presence of another dog does not help minimise this anxiety as it appears that these dogs need human company, not the company of another dog or cat.