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Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Is It Real?

No one likes to be left on their own for long periods of time and it’s no different for our dogs.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common expressions that you will hear when an owner notices their dog acting distressed when they leave the home, but is this anxiety a real issue?

During our sessions on dog training in Surrey, we have come across many owners who are worried about their beloved pets becoming upset when they are left for a while on their own, so we’ve decided to put together a little fact file on how separation anxiety presents itself in dogs.

Real Anxiety… or Simulated Anxiety

Sadly, separation anxiety can be a huge issue for many dogs and it’s not always easy to tackle as it can cause very real stress to an animal which can lead to further issues with their health.

However, in a lot of cases of suspected separation anxiety, dogs are known to mimic the behaviour associated with anxiety simply to get attention.

Pandora at the Merseyside Dogs Home

This is known as simulated anxiety and occurs when a dog realises that he will get attention if he acts in a certain way.

For example, if you make a fuss of your dog when he is a puppy and he cries when you simply leave the room, he will associate the act of whining with getting attention. Sometimes even a simple verbal reprimand suffices for the dog, as he realises he has been noticed.

What Causes Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety can partly be our own fault. It’s not uncommon for people to fuss with their dogs when they come home, without knowing that their dog has been concerned about their absence from the building.

Anxiety can also be encouraged through reducing the amount of socialisation once they begin growing up. As puppies, we want them to experience as much of the world as possible to ensure that they are learning about the environment that they are in. Once they are older, they don’t need to be taken everywhere to experience new things, and so get left at home.

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This may make them feel like they should be accompanying us all the time, so when we leave, they don’t fully understand why they aren’t allowed to come too.

Preventing Separation Anxiety

Starting puppy training while they are young is a great way to get a head start on nipping any anxiety in the bud before they get older.

When your pup cries because he is alone, it is important not to reward him with hugs and attention. Instead, only reward his good behaviour. Teaching a puppy patience is also an important part of obedience training which will work out better for your dog in the long run, too.

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Allow him to entertain himself rather than relying on playing with you the entire time, and he will be able to keep himself occupied when you leave the house without having to rely on your for entertainment.

If you are looking for a puppy training class in  the Surrey area to help avoid your puppy developing separation anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact our team on 07739 815 265 today.