Separation Anxiety- the FOMO of the Dog World
Dogs by nature are social, preferring to be with others rather than on their own. When left alone, some dogs have a hard time understanding why their owner/family has left them and can have difficulties coping with the solitude. Some dogs can sleep it off, others vocalize and bark, exhibit destructive chews, or soiling themselves or the home. These behaviors characterize separation anxiety, the pets inability to cope with being left behind. The behavior is likely due to a variety of factors including fear, distress, frustration, and panic1.
While wishful thinking, there is no quick fix for separation anxiety but rather a multimodal approach to management of the behaviors and secondary stress. Multimodal approach includes environmental modification, training, counter conditioning/desensitization, and medications when appropriate. Management takes time, effort, and patience for all parties involved, both the 2 and 4 legged creatures. If nothing else, owners should avoid punishment at all cost.
So how do we let Fido know the party wasn’t that fun…
- Identify the pet- Newly adopted? Unknown history? Varied home/work/travel schedule?
- Determine the problems- Examples include being calm around owner but unfavorable behaviors exhibited when leaving or about to leave.
- Create a safe retreat- Available to pet at all time, and comforting when left alone.
- Medical therapies- This includes environmental modification via appeasing pheromones, supplemental therapy, and prescription anxiolytics when appropriate
To happier and more relaxed pets!
Check out the research here!