What Causes Dog Separation Anxiety?

There are many different reasons that dogs develop dog separation anxiety. Roughly 10% of all dogs will develop separation anxiety at some point in their lives. While some cases of separation anxiety are mild, others can be become far more severe. Separation anxiety is the second most common reason for dogs being returned to a shelter.

1) Dogs are social creatures

Dogs are pack animals and you and your family are their pack. Dogs are descendants of wolves. Wolves are very social animals and are unable to hunt and survive without their pack. A dog thinks that it is completely normal to spend ALL of it’s time next to you, or with the rest of the pack members. This is can be pronounced in certain breeds, or in dogs that spend most of their time with their pack, and are rarely left alone.

2) Change in Routine

Your dog may have developed separation anxiety because his daily routine has suddenly changed or become upset. For example, a dog may develop separation anxiety when children go back to school in the fall after being at home all summer. Another example is where a dog spends a huge amount of time with the pack, such as during a family vacation, then needs to go back to its old routine of time along during the day.

3)A Rough Puppy Childhood:

The first 8 weeks of a puppies life are crucial for social development. If your dog was taken from it’s mother too early, it may not have developed the social bonds that a puppy normally would. Puppies that are removed from their mother and siblings too early are more likely to develop separation anxiety and barking problems. Puppies should be left with their litter and mother until at least 7 weeks, with 8 to 9 weeks being ideal. A rough childhood is one of the major dog separation anxiety causes.

4) Shelters and Previous Owners

Shelter dogs are never alone. They can usually smell, see, and hear other dogs present. They are rarely, if ever left completely alone with no people or other animals near by. The longer a dog has been in a shelter, the more likely that problems will develop. Unfortunately, some dogs are returned to the shelter. This can be a traumatic experience. Dogs bond with their pack strongly. When a dog has been returned to a shelter multiple times, it can be nervous that it will be left again.

5) Specific Breeds

Anxiety in dogs is more prevalent in some dog breeds than others. Weimaraners, collies, and shepherds are more likely to develop separation anxiety than a pug! If you own a pure bred dog, you can talk to the breeder about anxiety issues in the dogs genealogy. You should inform the breeder about the issue so that they can work to breed nervousness out of their lineage. Mixed breeds tend to have anxiety issues more than pure breeds, but this is most likely caused by shelters and pounds, than the genetic makeup of the dog.

What’s next. Learn about the Symptons of Anxiety in Dogs!