Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

Did you know that separation anxiety is the second most common reason dogs are euthanized or given up by their owners?

Separation anxiety can occur in any breed and at any age.

Dogs are pack animals and it is not natural for a dog to be left alone. Dogs can react to a lack of exercise and/or the stress of being separated from their "pack member(s)" by becoming upset, destructive, barking continuously, or eliminating in the house. The degrees can vary, and your dog may only do one, or perhaps all, of the behaviors. You may be mistaking the behaviors as "breed traits" when in reality it is mental anguish. You may see personality changes in your pet as well. He may become aggressive or shy. He may become depressed and can even make himself sick. She may begin to chew parts of her own body

In order to stop our dogs from having separation anxiety, we first need to understand what is causing it. Two of the more common reasons this can occur are: (and the cause can be due to either or both of these)
1.The number one cause of separation anxiety is a human’s lack of leadership. We humans, more often than not, tend to treat our canine family members like humans. In a pack, the leader is allowed to leave. However, the followers never leave the leader. If your dog is instinctually seeing you as his follower and you leave him, it causes so much mental anguish that a dog often takes it out on your house or himself. The dog sees himself as the one who is responsible for the pack and when the pack has left the house he gets in a panic because he is afraid that something might happen to his pack members, for whom he is responsible. When a dog accepts you as pack leader separation anxiety will not exist. If you do not understand the instincts of the dog and his pack members, the articles on this page Understanding Dog Behavior will give you a better idea of how your dog instinctively thinks. However, the issue of separation anxiety is not always solely one of a leadership issue.
2. Separation anxiety can also be due to a lack of exercise. A build-up of energy stored within the dog can bring about multiple behavioral issues. When you leave, it intensifies her stress and she acts out because she does not know what else to do with this built-up energy. Walk your dog in the morning before she eats and again at night. For the walk to be successful, your dog needs to be focused on her owner, the pack leader. Therefore, the dog should not be pulling in front of you. The dog should be walking beside or behind you, following YOU, as opposed to you following HER. If you allow the dog to pull in front, you are once again re-enforcing to your dog that she is alpha over you. Instinctually, the pack leader goes first. If you do not make your dog heel beside or behind you, the walk will not accomplish its intended goal. When a dog walks with her mind focused on her owner, she releases both physical and mental energy. This works her brain and fulfills her canine instinct, but also relieves them of the responsibility of having to provide leadership in a human society, which the dog is really not equipped to do.

Since it is not natural for a pack animal to be left alone, this can also occur in a submissive dog that does see you as the leader, but that is not completely secure within his pack or a dog that has not learned how to handle being alone.

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