Does My Dog Have Separation Anxiety?
Have you been coming home recently to a house that has been torn apart, with your favorite shoes chewed up, and ‘surprises’ left for you by your dog? Have the neighbors commented that they hear your canine companion barking and crying while you’re at work? If your dog follows you around when you’re home, whines and barks as you get ready for work in the morning, and seems exceptionally glad to see you when you return home, your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety. Anxiety can stem from a number of causes, and be the underlying root problem of many behavioral issues.
Separation anxiety occurs when you, the owner, leaves home without your pet. Anxiety is having a feeling of uneasiness or nervousness over an impending ill or uncertain outcome, and affects around 20% of dogs. Your pup could be experiencing anxiety due to a number of reasons; dogs that have been through shelters or recently been taken into a new home are much more likely to experience separation anxiety. The stress of being in a shelter, or taken from one home and brought into another, can cause the dog to strongly attach to their new owner for security. When the person the dog is attached to begins to make their cues to leave (gathering keys, putting on coat and shoes), the dog beings to associate those cues with the impending absence of their owner, which invoked their panic response. A dog’s panic response can be barking, whining, crying, urination or defecation, destructive behaviors, aggression, digging, and even depression. Dogs can also experience anxiety when changes occur within the household that are distressing to the dog, if they experience something while at home alone that is stressful, or as dogs mature and become increasingly attached to their owners.
It is important to determine if your pup is indeed experiencing separation anxiety, or if they are just bored while you’re away. If the vocal and destructive behaviors start while your dog sees you getting ready to leave, but subside after being alone for a while, your dog is likely experiencing separation anxiety. If you dog engages in those behaviors, then takes a nap or plays with toys while you’re gone, and then re-engages in destructive behaviors later on, the dog is most likely bored, and needs further exercise and stimulation when you are home. If these behaviors tend to happen the longer the owner is away, it may be that the dog is being left alone too long.
A Voyce monitor can help you and your vet identify what is really going on with your pet, by collecting data about your dog’s activity when you’re not home. Information about your pet’s heart and respiratory rate, along with levels of activity and sleep patterns while you’re away from your dog can help your vet diagnose anxiety and behavioral issues, and determine an appropriate course of treatment, to get everyone back to being happy and healthy.