The causes of separation issues in dogs

Posted by Betty. February 5th 2014.

Separation issues in dogs can be quite common, this usually occurs when the dog becomes too reliant upon the owners company. To follow on from last month’s article that introduced dog owners to destructive behaviour in dogs that can be caused by separation issues, this month we are going to look at the 2 main causes of separation issues in dogs so that owners know what to keep an eye out for.destructive dogs

1.    Anxiety & Fear

Dogs displaying anxious behaviour often begin to show signs of distress prior to the owner leaving. Lip licking, yawning, pacing, panting and an elevated heart rate could all be indications that the dog is associating certain human behaviour with being left alone. In the same way that the dog makes a positive association when the owner picks up his lead prior to a walk, a negative association is made by the owner putting on certain items of clothing, picking up a work bag or a certain coat. The dog learns to associate the owner’s behaviour with them leaving.

The type of behaviour exhibited whilst the owner is out can often be an indication of the cause of the behaviour. Scrabbling at the doors where the owner left the house, taking the owner’s clothes and chewing them, pacing, barking, howling and defecating, can all indicate stress. More general destruction, ripping up carpets and other objects, can indicate boredom.

Many dogs with true anxiety, fear or phobia issues surrounding being away from their owner require the help of a qualified behaviourist.  It can take many weeks or months before the dog significantly improves. It requires patience, consistency and time on behalf of the owner, but it is possible and well worthwhile.

2.    Boredom

Many dog’s struggle with life in modern society. Dogs are left alone for long periods of time due to owners working long hours. In some cases breeds are purchased that are inappropriate for an owners’ lifestyle. Smaller housing with small or no gardens mean that dogs have less of their own space. Less green space in urban areas means less space to walk dogs and the areas that are accessible are highly populated, which can be stressful for some dogs.

A bored dog can find many ways to alleviate boredom,  e.g. tail chasing, barking at passers-by, ripping soft furnishings and other destructive behaviour,  e.g. pacing, chewing furniture and even licking, chewing and biting themselves.

Other Causes of Destructive Behaviour

Some dogs become destructive because they are frustrated, this can be because they are bored and under stimulated as mentioned above. Sometimes sexual frustration can cause destructive behaviour in male dogs. Lack of training and lack of appropriate items to chew or rip is another common reason why dogs can be destructive, especially as puppies. Owners must always be aware of a canines need to chew, socialise, interact, run, play or follow scents. Always provide adequate opportunities for the dog to exhibit this very natural behaviour.

Later on in the month we will be discussing how to solve separation issues in dogs, so if keep checking our blog for updates on pet care.

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