How to Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety in Jenison, MI

Have you noticed that your dog won’t leave your side and it seems as if the world is ending every time you step out of the house without them? This is a common behavior that dogs exhibit, but it must be dealt with as soon as possible so that you both can live calmer lives.

We’re going to go over everything you need to know about dog separation anxiety in Jenison, MI and what you should do as a dog owner to handle the situation correctly.

Beagle dog waiting for owner to come home

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Simply put, it is excessive stress and anxiety when a person or animal is separated from a person, place, or object they have an attachment to. You read that correctly- separation anxiety can affect people just as much as animals.

People can have separation anxiety when separated from each other (picture the infant being left at daycare for the first time). People can also have separation anxiety when separated from their home, or an object they’re attached to (what happens when you lose your cell phone?)

Similarly, dogs can have separation anxiety when separated from their people, and even from their home, their kennel, or their favorite toy. Surprisingly enough, people can even have separation anxiety when away from their pets!

Are Certain Dogs More Prone to Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety can affect any dog of any age in Jenison, MI. Some are young puppies who were separated from their litter too early, and thus develop an inappropriate emotional bond with their person or another housemate.

Some are geriatric dogs who are experiencing cognitive decline or other conditions like blindness or deafness, who only find comfort in a particular person, place, or thing, and are distraught when separated from them/it.

It can even happen in dogs who are somewhere between puppyhood and their golden years. There really is no age limit. And the condition can have a variety of causes- including stifled natural energy, poor socialization, traumatic events, or even exposure to owners who have anxiety disorders that are projected onto the dogs.

There are definitely breed and breed-types that are well known for anxious tendencies too – just ask your veterinarian for more info about it.

The Breed Connection to Dog Separation Anxiety

One of the best ways to prevent separation anxiety is to choose a dog that really works for your lifestyle. This may mean not getting the breed or type that you’ve always wanted. But it’s more responsible to choose the dog that will adapt well to your household and lifestyle, than it is to choose the dog that you “like a lot” for superficial reasons.

High-strung breeds that were created with specific behavioral traits needed to do a job are much more prone to developing separation anxiety, especially if they’re living in conditions that aren’t ideal for their personalities. The most commonly affected breed groups include Hounds, Working, Sporting, Terriers, and Herding.

Additionally, dogs that are any MIX of the above can still display the traits inherent to any of their ancestors. This includes dogs of unknown/ unintentional origin and intentionally bred mutts.

Why Are These Dogs More Prone?

The above groups are over-represented for a very good reason. These are all dogs created with a specific job in mind. This can be herding, hunting, guarding, and even sled-pulling or competitive running.

When they’re not allowed to do their job, their stifled energy has to have an outlet somewhere. Often it comes out as a nervous, obsessive energy instead, that can easily manifest as separation anxiety.

Think Before You Get a New Dog

The unfortunate thing is that so many owners gravitate toward dogs in these categories for their reputation, their striking appearance, or simply because they ”know someone” who has a similar dog that they think they will like.

When choosing an appropriate breed type or specific breed, it’s extremely important to consider what the dog’s natural inclinations will be and really evaluate if that matches your lifestyle.

If they don’t, then you, your dog, and your family will all end up unhappy in some way. The dog will become frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed.

Those behaviors often cause the dog to become obsessive over a person, place, or thing that they can focus that pent up energy at. This results in separation anxiety any time the dog is separated from the object of their obsession.

Young woman petting her dog outside on the porch of log cabin

Socialization: The Root of Most Dog Separation Anxiety Problems

When most people hear the word socialization, they imagine puppy play groups, dog parks, and meeting lots of new people. While this is part of the puzzle, there is a lot more involved.

Socialization includes every part of teaching a dog how to behave at home and in public, and helping them become well-adjusted to everyday life. This includes meeting new people, teaching basic obedience, and ensuring they’ve seen and experienced a lot of new things, in a way that helps them learn that it’s ok.

Ensuring proper socialization can set your dog up for a lifetime of success and confidence- thorough and comprehensive socialization during early puppyhood are paramount in preventing behavioral problems later in life.

Traumatic Events Can Cause Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Sometimes traumatic things happen that are beyond our control. Sometimes traumatic things happen that we caused from our own inexperience, frustration, or lack of care.

Any traumatic event can lead to the sudden or gradual onset of separation anxiety, so as dog owners we need to remember that our dogs can be just as emotionally sensitive as children are.

Trauma can include everything from a physical altercation or attack, an accident, or a sudden loss of someone important. Trauma also includes mistreatment, inappropriate interactions, neglect, and abuse.

In the case of traumatic events, there are some circumstances that are beyond our control, but it is imperative to remember that companion animals in our households are completely dependent on us for care and love, so to prevent separation anxiety and other behavioral issues, we as owners must keep their emotional and psychological health in mind, just as we would for a young child.

Your Own Stress and Anxiety Can Effect Your Dog

One of the less obvious causes of separation anxiety in dogs is their perception and assimilation of their owners stress and anxiety. Studies have proven that the animals in our lives are fully aware of our stress and anxiety and often are affected by it just as much.

This is important to consider if you’re working with a dog exhibiting signs of separation anxiety. If there’s not an obvious source of their anxiety, it may be worth looking inwardly, and seeking help for yourself.

Your anxiety may cause their anxiety, which will lead them to exhibit behaviors that may cause additional stress for you. It can turn into a vicious cycle that compromises quality of life for both you and your dog.

Dalmation by a chair

Preventing Dog Separation Anxiety in Jenison, MI

The best prevention of separation anxiety involves a lot of moving parts, from appropriate socialization from a young age, creating a solid foundation of obedience training, and providing living environments that provide for their basic needs.

While dogs are inherently different from people, we should still take their emotional and psychological health into consideration, to provide them (and ourselves) with the best possible chance for long, healthy, stress-free lives.

If you feel that your dog is developing separation anxiety in Jenison, MI, don’t hesitate to contact Chicago Drive Veterinary Clinic for help. Our team is more than prepared to help your dog live the best life they can.

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About Chicago Drive Veterinary Clinic

In 1997, we established Chicago Drive Veterinary Clinic in Jenison as a place where people and their pets can be treated not as clients, but as extended members of our family.  Our mission as your veterinarian is to deliver care we can be proud of—care that goes beyond simply meeting your pet’s most essential needs.