Dogs can get pretty attached to humans. As a result, it isn’t uncommon for dogs to be unhappy when they are separated from their human owners. However, there are some cases in which dogs can show destructive and otherwise disruptive behavior when they have been separated from their human owners, which is what a lot of people call separation anxiety.
What Did Scientists Find Out about Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of people with a lot of interest in understanding separation anxiety in dogs. In part, this is because no one wants their dog to start showing destructive and otherwise disruptive behaviors while they are away, meaning that there is a strong interest in understanding the problem so that it can be combated in a more effective manner. However, it should also be noted that the exact causes of separation anxiety in dogs aren’t well-understood, meaning that there is plenty for interested researchers to look into.
For proof, consider how a recent study that was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior looked into the effects of petting on dogs with separation anxiety issues. In short, the study separated the dogs into two groups. One group received some petting from their dog owners before being separated for a short period of time. In contrast, the other group received no such treatment from their dog owners before being subjected to the same separation. On the whole, the study found that the dogs who have received the petting were calmer than their unpetted counterparts. Something that was reflected in the animals’ heart rates as well as other measurements.
Said study isn’t particularly useful on its own. It doesn’t really give us a new magical solution with which to combat separation anxiety in dogs. However, it does provide us with a better understanding of our canine companions as well as how they react to certain circumstances, meaning that it could pave the way for newer, more meaningful discoveries to come in the future.
How Is Separation Anxiety in Dogs Treated Anyways?
In the meantime, we have to muddle through with what we know about separation anxiety, which unfortunately, is nowhere near as comprehensive as what we would like it to be. For starters, we don’t even have a particularly good grasp of the various problems that can cause said disorder, though some of the examples that have been named include but are not limited to trauma, routine changes, major disruptions, and what some people have chosen to call an “addiction” to their dog owners on the part of the dogs. On top of this, there are some sources that suggest that separation anxiety in some but by no means all dogs could be a learned behavior. Essentially, these cases are caused by dogs picking up on their dog owners’ upset when they are separated from one another, which they eventually wind up learning to perform on their own because that gets them more attention from their dog owners.
As for treating dogs with separation anxiety, there are a wide range of methods that are already seeing use. For example, there are various medications that can be used to medicate the dog, though this doesn’t actually help with the root of the problem so much as beat back its manifestations. Likewise, there are other people who use various things to keep their dogs stimulated. Sometimes, this means spending more time playing with them so that they won’t become bored while they are stuck at home, thus causing them to show destructive as well as other kinds of disruptive behavior. Other times, this means leaving the TV on so that the dogs will have something to do while their dog owners are away. Besides these, there are even people who are working to get their dogs more accustomed to being separated from them by making a little bit of progress each time. Something that can take a lot of time and effort to say the least.
Ultimately, interested individuals shouldn’t hesitate to consult a source of canine expertise if they encounter separation anxiety in their dogs. It is definitely a major problem, meaning that it is best for it to be solved sooner rather than later for the sake of both the dog and the dog owner.