For dog owners, it’s hard to imagine life without your pet. Their snuffles and footprints characterise the home. They give us a give us a reason to go out and explore, then snuggle by our feet at the end of the day. In the bustle of daily life - work, life admin and family commitments - dogs are a constant.
To dogs, we humans are the centre of their world and when we leave for work, the weekly shop or off on holiday, the feeling of being apart can cause our pets distress. This high level of this upset is known as ‘separation anxiety’.
WHAT CAN TRIGGER SEPARATION ANXIETY?
Dogs are very social animals that naturally live in family groups and have evolved over time to become domestic animals living side-by-side with humans. This pack mentality means they view you as their leader - a dependable figure vital to survival so being alone can feel very unsettling.
When you first get a dog, especially if they’re a puppy or recently re-homed, the instant bond and feeling of protection can be difficult to detach from. For instance, at night they may cry and scratch the door so it’s important to train them as soon as possible - introduce a bedtime routine in a warm space but whilst resisting the urge to come down and calm them if they cry.
It is not always dogs that are new to the family that experience separation anxiety. The following situations can also trigger the condition:
- An abrupt change in your schedule such as getting a new job which sees you transition from spending the majority of your time at home to leaving for an office five days per week
- Uprooting the family to a new home - unfamiliar surroundings can take time to get used to
- The sudden absence of a resident family member, whether they’re moving out to start a new chapter or a more sombre situation like a break-up or death
SPOTTING THE SIGNS