How to bond with your dog.
It’s wonderful when our dogs come running to greet us and appear to be following us around. Indeed, many people consider this to be one of their favorite aspects of owning a dog. We don’t fall in love with them merely because of their big eyes and velvety coat; unconditional affection is quite a powerful thing. Isn’t it pleasant to return home to someone who can’t wait to see us, especially in our complex social world?
As dogs developed to become man’s greatest friends, being sociable and connecting with humans was likely genetically chosen. Humans may have purposefully bred friendly dogs, or dogs that were naturally social with people may have had greater access to protection, food, and other resources, resulting in enhanced attachment. Regardless, mankind contributed to the evolution of a species that is inextricably linked to us.
These days, hectic schedules may put a strain on this special link, leaving sensitive pets without company, which is the issue. In essence, humans may have contributed to the neurotic little animals who keep pet-sitters in business on Friday evenings or keep the dogs’ families watching TV repeats instead of going to the movies for thousands of years.
When dogs, particularly pups, are removed from attachment figures such as loyal dogs or human partners, it’s common for them to display signs of grief. This discomfort should be short (no more than a few minutes) and mild (for instance, the dog may whine a little, but then be happily able to eat).
As the dog or puppy learns the daily routine and anticipates the return of individuals he is missing, the signals of anguish should fade.
When dogs with separation anxiety are left alone, they aren’t only unhappy or frustrated. They do not develop the ability to withstand absences in the same way that less nervous canines do.
Instead, individuals endure severe anguish when left alone, which typically does not improve until it is handled.
Even the most devoted dog owners must leave their pets alone from time to time. People don’t anticipate or want to return home to pools of pee, mounds of excrement, a torn sofa, or complaints from neighbors about the melancholy sobbing that happens while they are gone when they leave their dogs alone.
These problems, on the other hand, are an everyday occurrence for individuals whose pets suffer from separation anxiety.
These actions jeopardize the human-animal link, putting dogs at danger of abuse, desertion, and death.
Separation anxiety is considered to be more common among rescued dogs. We don’t know whether this is related to the trauma of the relinquishment, the time spent in the shelter, or the fact that they were abandoned in the first place because of their separation anxiety.
Because they are scared that their dog will be killed if they disclose separation anxiety behaviors to shelters or rescue organizations, many individuals do not report separation anxiety behaviors to shelters or rescue groups when they give over their dog. Unfortunately, this implies that there is no reliable count of dogs suffering from separation anxiety at shelters or rescues.
What Is Separation Anxiety and How Does It Affect You?
Separation anxiety is a behavioral condition in which dogs exhibit physical, physiological, or behavioral indicators of discomfort solely when they are separated from their owners or when they are unable to reach them due to a closed door, a gate, or other physical barriers. A dog may sometimes show indications of separation anxiety solely when a certain human is gone or unavailable.
When they’re with their owners, most of these dogs are very normal. They will not always insist on being in the same room with their owners and will interact with other pets in a normal manner. The distressed dog, on the other hand, will not interact with other pets if left alone; regular family canines may avoid these frenzied dogs when they are in distress.
Occasionally, a dog deviates from the norm and becomes a “Velcro dog,” unable to be separated from its owners. In the worst-case scenario, he may feel compelled to constantly touch someone. These hyper-attached canines, who are much less frequent, may not have an existence apart from their owners.
Urination, feces, damage, and excessive vocalization (typically barking or wailing) are the most often reported behaviors linked with separation anxiety. These are the indications that most people are familiar with. Separation anxiety in dogs may manifest itself in a variety of ways that are often overlooked by pet owners who do not have access to a video of their dog.
Drooling, panting, freezing (immobility), withdrawal, and changes in problem-solving and other cognitive activities are less prevalent since they are less visible and can’t be seen if you’re not at home. Sadly, pets that show these symptoms may never be diagnosed.
So, how can you know whether your dog is displaying these less evident signs?
Urine and saliva may evaporate while you’re gone, but urine can glow if you use a tiny, portable black light. The areas where the dog has urinated will light up if you move the light slowly and low over the floor or carpets.
The hair of your dog may be stained a red color if he has salivated (this may not be noticeable in dogs with dark coats). Run your hands over your dog’s legs and chest if you’re not sure whether he salivates while you’re gone. You’ll see stiff, stuck-together hair that’s heavy with spit residue if he was salivating.
Unless someone complains or you notice that your dog is hoarse, you may not realize whether your dog barks or screams all day. Voice-activated recorders, as well as the memo function on answering machines, are now inexpensive and may capture barking dogs. However, videotaping your dog is the greatest method to find out whether he is barking (as well as pacing, shivering, freezing in place, and other behaviors).
Dogs may inform us about their day via videos. Dogs that pant, pace, sit firmly in a single posture, or whine when no one can hear them are clearly disturbed and in pain. These canines get a voice via videos, which also offer you the behavioral knowledge you need to assist them.
Common Separation Symptoms in Dogs Anxiety
These are the simplest signals for owners to see.
The greatest information for you and your veterinarian to give is videos of the dog while you are gone. You should film the dog from a couple of fixed spots (at the very least, the entrance through which people depart and the dog’s preferred resting spot).
When you go home, record the dog so you can compare the cheerful dog to the distressed one. This is a crucial stage because it will help you choose which habits you want to praise and others you want to alter. When you compare recordings, the actions described under “Common Signs” will stand out.
In general, if behavioral issues are detected early on, they are the easiest to address.
Once or twice a year, film your dog to ensure he isn’t exhibiting indications of separation anxiety. If he is, you may seek treatment right away rather than waiting until the situation becomes serious enough for you to notice clinical indicators.
Is this really the case?
There are many misconceptions regarding separation anxiety and how to address it, as there are with other canine behavioral issues. Here are a few examples:
People who travel for work occasionally claim that their pets are developing separation anxiety as a result of their absence. Breeders and veterinary professionals who raise or deal with pups, on the other hand, often advise owners to educate their dogs to be alone so they don’t develop separation anxiety.
Which is it, then?
Someone may advise you not to “spoil” your dog by allowing him to lie on your bed since you will be unable to leave him alone.
Someone will tell you that your dog damages things because you are too busy to have a dog since you are always on the move. Other “experts” will say the dog is wrecking the home because you don’t have anything to do and you “pamper” the dog, making him “too connected” to you.
People tell you that if you just have one dog, he will screech while you are gone because he is lonely and because you concentrate too much on him. People will tell you that you have too many pets if you have more than one dog, thus you won’t be able to give enough attention to the problem dog.
If you go from working at home to working in an office, you may notice that your dog urinates on the rug in “spite” of your departure.
People may assume your dog is bored and needs a job or more things to occupy him if he “remodels” your house, even though he never plays with or eats the food from his food toys until you get home.
Dogs need “boundaries.” When you’re gone, regardless of how your dog reacts, you should cage him.
Velcro dogs are often mentioned by rescuers, shelters, and rescue websites. “He’ll always be by your side, and you’ll always know where he is,” the Velcro dogs are depicted as wonderful pets for individuals who genuinely desire attention from their dogs: “He’ll always be by your side, and you’ll always know where he is.”
These contradicting descriptions often cause dog owners confusion and frustration, resulting in either failure to seek assistance in managing this illness or, worse still, receiving the incorrect form of therapy and failing to address the underlying fear.
Not fiction, but facts
Data from clinical studies to approve drugs for the treatment of separation anxiety has helped to clarify what we already know—and it’s startling. The findings laid to rest many of the fears that had arisen as a consequence of the widespread misconception about separation anxiety.
It makes no difference who the dog lives with or what the families do.
The pharmaceutical studies included both single dogs and those who lived in multidog and multi-pet families. Separation anxiety is also not contagious: dogs that lived with another dog with separation anxiety did not get it.
Marital status and whether or not the family had children had little effect on whether or not there were challenges with separation. Separation anxiety dogs were just as likely to come from families where everyone worked outside the home as they did from homes where someone was always or almost always home.
Separation anxiety is not created by dog owners, according to research, but is caused by a variety of reasons. Some customers adored their dogs, while others had dogs that were just part of the household’s daily routine. Other studies have indicated that “spoiling” the dog had no effect on whether separation anxiety developed.
Some dog owners who had separation anxiety permitted their pets to lie on their beds, whereas others did not. Some folks gave their dogs premium dog chow, while others did not. Some owners barely groomed their dogs, while others provided them with clothing. Although the dressed dogs seemed to be ashamed at times, the separation anxiety was not caused by dressing them up.
Separation anxiety has no breed predisposition. The percentage of purebred and mixed-breed dogs in the afflicted group did not vary from that of the general animal hospital population. There was no breed that was proven to be more prone to separation anxiety.
When compared to the number of adults, rescues, and strays in the total hospital population, dogs adopted as adults, strays, or rescues were not more likely to experience separation anxiety. There didn’t seem to be a single “correct” breed or source of dogs that would ensure the separation of anxiety-free canines.
They don’t only need more exercise and activity. The great majority of these canines are neither understimulated or deprived, and they are also not bored. Even dogs with dog doors and access to the outside world suffer from separation anxiety!
Affected canines disregard other dogs’ invites to play, do not utilize food toys, and do not consume food that they would normally eat, according to videos. Dogs who dig their way through walls and doors or escape by smashing windows not only harm themselves physically, sometimes serious, but they also often seek out someone—anyone—who is home or willing to sit with them after they have done so.
These canines are not upset as a result of their masters’ lack of “dominance.” There is no evidence to suggest that dog owners promote separation anxiety in their pets.
Myths that attempt to assign blame to obstruct the dog’s ability to get help—a proper diagnosis and treatment. Separation anxiety causes misery in dogs. They are not enraged or acting in an obnoxious manner. Instead, they’re acting in a frenetic, out-of-control way.
You will not be punished by these dogs if you leave them alone. Instead, they are physiologically and behaviorally reacting to the intense anguish — and occasionally fear — they experience when removed from their humans. Because his owner thought he was being spiteful, Malcolm, the dog at the beginning of the chapter, was punished for his destructive and noisy behaviors—until he learned how much Malcolm was suffering.