A disruptive or destructive pet often leads to a very unpleasant homecoming.
Do you experience a mild version of anxiety the moment you open the door when you get home, hoping to not find your home or garden destroyed by your beloved furry friend?
I'm guessing if you are one of 'those' pet parents, they will be sitting there with a wagging tail, and a trail of destruction behind them. You take a deep breath before you enter the house and hope 'it's not going to be too bad this time" - and then as you stroll through your home, the evidence is clear, you have a 'very naughty dog'. Well, that is what many pet parents think when they are first-time pet owners. The truth is, your dog might be suffering from 'Separation Anxiety' and the good news is, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
What is the difference between an untrained pet and separation anxiety?
An untrained pet just needs some time to learn to change their behaviour with a little extra attention and some good house training from your side. Is there something that needs far more attention than merely ‘housetraining’ your new family member? Training an animal is not just about the animal, but also about the human learning to understand their pet. For starters, consistency in your verbal and body language is key for the animal to learn to understand you, especially in the early stages of their development years.
Many animals suffer from separation anxiety, and the levels of extremity vary with each animal. Some will be completely destructive, others might want to escape the home, with the aim to follow their owner – and then the end result is a lost pet who also could be injured during or after escaping the property.
How would you know if your pet could be suffering from separation anxiety?
The first thing to look out for is just how happy is your dog really when you get home. Over-excitement upon your return is a sign that might need to be investigated. Another important fact to consider is: do you get complaints from neighbours about your dogs' constant barking, howling or jumping the fence into their yard? You go to work and return home, but do you really know what happened while you were not home?
There are many ways to try and help the animal and consider investigating the following:
- Visit the vet to rule out medical-related conditions
- Is this general juvenile behaviour and boredom that just needs training
- Consider getting video footage
- Contact an animal behaviourist,
Ideally, the end result that you would want to achieve is for the animal to be content with your absence, removing the fear of being alone and building a sense of contentment while you are away.
Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
- Urinating and Defecating
- Barking and Howling
- Chewing, Digging and Destruction
Why Do Some Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety?
As it is for us humans, all animals have different personalities, likes, and dislikes.
The most common cause of separation anxiety is if an animal has been removed from its mother before weaning has taken place, generally for dogs and cats it is before the animal is about ten weeks old.
The other is also if the animal has experienced abandonment or loss, generally associated with animals that come from animal shelters, or during the change in the family order (for example, the death in a family, a new-born, or a new human or animal member brought into the family), and finally the change in address could also lead to the animal developing separation anxiety.
What do you do when you find out that your dog suffers from Separation Anxiety?
Nobody wants their beloved pet to be a disruptive or destructive animal. Once you have taken the necessary steps to identify the cause of the destructive behaviour, then we highly recommend that you read more about How to Help an Animal That Suffers From Separation Anxiety.