Understanding Our Dogs: Separation Anxiety in Canines

Jul 22, 2020 | Animal Behavior, Education, Pet Guardians, Training

By Animal Courses Direct

dog separation anxiety staring out window

Separation related behaviours are common in pet dogs © Can Stock Photo/herreid

How is your dog coping with changes during the pandemic?

For many of us, the coronavirus and lockdown have brought a chance to spend more time with our beloved pets and families. Lots of dogs are benefitting from increased walks, interactions and new opportunities for mental stimulation.

Some dogs will be loving this extra time with their loved ones and the company day-to-day, however for some dogs this will feel unusual and they may struggle with this change to their normal routine. It’s also likely that with all this extra-time at home our dogs are becoming used to having us around, so it’s important we’re aware that by having us at home for a long period of uninterrupted time, it can cause separation issues to appear when we return to work. In fact, Dogs Trust have called the return-to-work post-lockdown a “ticking time bomb” for increased separation anxiety in dogs.

So what exactly is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety causes anxiety and distress in canines when they are separated from their primary caregiver or other close attachment figures. In household pets it’s currently estimated to affect up to 20% of all dogs. It’s a common issue for canines throughout the UK, and can be very stressful for both pet and owner. In fact, according to the RSPCA, research suggests that 8 out of 10 of dogs will find it hard to cope when left alone, but half of these won’t show any obvious signs, so it can be very easy for care givers to miss. So what are the signs to look out for?

Separation related behaviours (SRBs) are unwanted behaviours when dogs are left alone. The most common signs of SRB are:

  • Destruction
  • Toileting
  • Barking
  • Howling

Don’t worry if your dog is displaying some of these behaviours when left alone, dogs are naturally social creatures! So it is natural for them to feel distress when alone, and this is why it’s vital as care givers we teach them to learn and understand that it is okay to be on their own!

There are plenty of things we can do as care givers to prevent separation anxiety in our dogs, and what better time to start than now? With increased time at home in the current situation, NOW is the perfect time to ease your dog in to getting used to being alone! This can be gradually built up over time, bit by bit, to ensure a stress-free and smooth transition to independence for your pup. We may think we won’t have an issue when everything returns to normal because our dogs are laid back, however it is still worth taking a few steps to ensure our dogs will cope, the aim of this preparation is to avoid stress!

If you want to build confidence or reduce fear in your dog, have a look at some of our short courses, including our Preventing Separation Anxiety and Preparing for Change Course. These are suitable for anyone, including caregivers, rescuers and those looking to work with animals professionally!

What will my course include?

Our course is specifically designed to equip you with the skills and information you need to improve welfare for dogs who suffer with separation anxiety related issues. The course considers various research studies, the latest findings and suggestions for helping dogs with separation anxiety related behaviours all whilst utilising force free methods. Our training and behaviour courses only promote force-free methods. Our courses emphasise ethics, environmental enrichment, behaviour, compassionate handling and stress-relief.
It is comprised of two units:

  • Unit 1: Human Attachment Theory
  • Unit 2: How to Prevent Separation Anxiety

You can start the course at anytime and have up to 1 year to complete it.

Book your course today and start learning online!

Animal Courses Direct changed my life! Thanks to the online course now I have the tools and skills I need to progress further in my career and my passion – working with animals.” – Tracy, Brighton’

Plus why not check out our other available courses? With a huge range on offer including wildlife, hydrotherapy, veterinary care and many more there’s something for everybody, whether you’re simply looking to learn more about animals or even to boost your career.

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