You may have noted that your dog becomes dull and withdrawn from time to time, haven’t you? Such circumstances are also most always characterized by loss of vitality, a general loss of interest in the things that once used to excite it, and a slump in its activity. This is technically called separation anxiety.
But what are some of the causes of this issue? And how may it be mitigated? These are not questions we can answer straight, just like that. We have to draft and dedicate an entire article to them. In our discussions that follow, we endeavor to explain them further.
A. Reasons for Separation Anxiety
Prolonged loneliness is perhaps the most significant cause of this menace. Dogs are naturally wired to be social, highly interactive, and playful. If they are denied these opportunities, they tend to withdraw and lose the vitality they once had in life. Most always, this comes via caging.
You are hence asked to prevent this menace from happening by all means and at all costs. That can happen if you take deliberate steps to mingle your dog with the others in its surroundings. Also, getting actively involved in your dog’s life can cure the problem. Consider furnishing the entertainment as well.
Change of Ownership
When dogs change their ownership from one person to another one, they will also withdraw from their everyday activities for quite some time. That is for the sheer reason that they need ample time to get used to their new owners, their likes, and dislikes.
Those are not things that can happen overnight. In the meantime, the dog will find it troublesome, confusing, and hard to express its feelings to the new owner as it used to in the case of the former owner. In this sense, the new owner has to exercise a great deal of patience.
Other than a change of ownership, the shift of a base from one place to another may also occasion the emergence of this problem. The reasons are pretty the same here. A dog will definitely require some time to be able to familiarize itself with the new location.
Yet again, this is not something that may be achieved overnight. On the flip side, it takes quite a while to accomplish. In between the start and the finish comes the hurdle of having to surmount the odds that exist with regards to settling in a new area.
Alteration of Routines or Schedules
An alteration or a change in the normal routines also has a role in the emergence of this problem of separation anxiety. A sudden change in the course of actions is more likely to trigger a bout of withdrawal. The reasons are pretty the same as those of the shifting of the base and change of ownership.
It takes quite a while for the dog to forget about the past routine and begin to accept let alone get used to the new routines. As is the norm with the first two incidences, it is necessary that the dog be given the space and ample time it needs to be able to settle well in the new regimes.
Loss of a Family Member
Dogs also grieve much like humans and other household animals. If they lose their loved ones like the puppies or mates, they tend to separate for quite some time as a way of dealing with the grief. This is normal and has nothing to do with the genetics or environment.
As the owner of the dog, you have to be mindful of this as well. Take the time to study your dog carefully and watch out for the signs of withdrawals and grief. Then, give your dog some patience and space to deal with these twin issues.
Change in Household Membership
A sudden absence or loss of a member of the family may also trigger the menace of separation anxiety. This problem is often compounded when the member in question was very close to the dog. Such emotional bonds and attachments are usually too strong to break overnight.
Perhaps one of the ways to slow down the adverse consequences of the separation in this sense is to withdraw intermittently. That will accustom the dog to the absence of the affected person and help it to come to terms with the reality of the complete absence. Refraining from all forms of engagement with the dog for a while can also help.
B. How to stop Separation Anxiety
Below now are some of the strategies you may attempt to stop the separation anxiety:
Alter the Routines slowly and steadily
Start out by altering your routines, if you have to, slowly and steadily. This will give your dog the psychological preparedness it needs to prepare for either. If you have to do so abruptly, you are asked to maintain stability and the utmost peace of mind.
You may in fact start withdrawing weeks or even several days before your actual departure. On the same note, you may also be signaling the dog well in advance before you finally get back. That approach maintains your dog in a great and welcoming mood. It also diffuses stress and tension.
Maintain some calmness when departing or returning
You are asked to be calm all the while you have to depart or return to the station wherein you are based. Being calm goes a long way in diffusing the buildup of the tension while at the same time helps your dog to acquaint yourself with either eventuality.
Dogs are generally averse to anything that can cause them to be nervous or lose their cool. It hence goes that maintaining the calmness also aids in letting your dogs retain their healthy stature. That is not to mention the tons of great social and psychological benefits that ordinarily come along.
Make use of some cues
Animals learn and draw connections using cues. They easily get accustomed to patterns and prompts than humans are. In your battle against the separation anxiety, consider developing some cues that are intended to slow down the menace altogether. These you could employ at varying stages of your withdrawal.
For instance, you may put in place a sign for your imminent departure, one for your imminent return, and another just to let your dog relax in peace. Deploy these signs at strategic points and places to let your dog respond to them appropriately before setting out for a departure.
Knowing what separation anxiety is, is definitely a critical step to take to mitigate and slow down the adverse effects. We have done the much we can to explain it and the steps you might look up to in order that you may slow down its impacts.
Having armed you with the relevant insights, is it too much of us to ask you to now implement them? Just to let you know, this issue may turn catastrophic if left unattended to or handled poorly. We hence ask you to take decisive steps in a timely manner to be able to tackle the issue well.