Certain behaviour may be noticeable that suggests your pup has separation anxiety.
● Pacing: does your pup pace when he starts to realise that you’re leaving without him?
● Vocalisation: do your neighbours report that your pup whines, barks, or howls when left home alone?
● Chewing: do you return home to signs of chewing around exit points; doors and windows?
● Anorexia: does your normally ‘greedy’ pup refuse to eat in your absence or when he suspects he is being left?
● Incontinence: do you return to wees and poos in the house?
Be aware that, just like us, some pups are extroverts, some are introverts. Just because one pup isn’t as loud as the other when left alone, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is suffering any less. Watch for tell-tale body language, and other subtle signs of distress.
All of the above may be signs of separation anxiety; however, there may be a perfectly reasonable alternative reason these symptoms are occurring. Good socialisation can help prevent separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety comes in various 'grades'
● Primary hyper-attachment: This is when the dog becomes stressed if left by a specific person. Other people may still be present and accessible by the dog, but the dog cannot relax until he is back with that one special person.
● Secondary hyper-attachment: The dog becomes stressed when left by an individual, but can find comfort and security by attaching to other people in the environment, or can settle with an item, such as a used jacket with the scent of the specific person.
● Conditioned fear: This is when, during a past episode when left alone, the dog experienced a fright such as thunder or fireworks. The dog puts two and two together and deduces that when left alone, scary stuff happens. The result is that the dog panics and becomes anxious when left alone — anxiety being the ‘fear of fear’.