Separation Anxiety

By Kerry Lawson

Separation anxiety, what is it and why has this pandemic increased the problem?

Firstly, I don’t actually like the word ‘anxiety’ in ‘separation anxiety’ as for most dogs it doesn’t come anywhere close to how they are feeling. It can be sheer, absolute panic every single time they are left alone. The word anxiety to me somehow seems to make it seem less than what it actually is on a scale of emotions our dogs feel.

Is it fear or anxiety? Medically, fear is an emotional response to a known, real, or perceived threat, whereas anxiety is an overwhelming sense of apprehension caused by an unknown, expected or poorly defined threat or anticipation of future threat.

But what’s going on with dogs with separation anxiety? Is it anxiety? Or is it fear? We assume its anxiety because to us there is no actual real threat to our dogs. But what if, in our dog’s head, being home all alone presents a clear danger. We don’t actually know because both fear and anxiety have very similar physical responses so it’s hard to tell the difference.

But the label we give it isn’t important, how your dog is feeling is what we are concerned about.

Our dogs have provided so many of us with comfort and company during this year of lockdowns and social restrictions, they have helped us to get through this very difficult time providing us with cuddles, exercise and smiles. However, it’s important that people balance that with letting their dog have alone time while they are still at home so when the time comes for them to go back to a normal work routine so their dogs remember how to be content on their own. For owners of dogs who already suffer from separation anxiety, this is an ideal time to work on helping their dog without having to find care for their dog when they go out to work.

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