Lockdown Creates Impending Dog Separation Problems

Lockdown Creates Impending Dog Separation Problems

 Dog Separation Problems

Lockdown may impact how dogs cope when owners are absent. Research suggests lockdown creates impending dog behaviour problems. The Dogs Trust and many professionals, are concerned for the potential of a surge in separation problems, when we return to work. We are all eagerly anticipating the end of lockdown and a return to normal life. This includes going back to work, away from home and engaging in various activities away from home. There will be a change in routine, or a brand new routine for puppies adopted in lockdown Dogs Trust (2020).

Social species such as the dog can become distressed if separated from their owner. Each panicking dog will exhibit stress in a way unique to them. The dog may exhibit, stress in its body language, to various levels, more subtle signs that are not noticed by the owner, or perhaps it may, vocalise, have house training accidents, or become destructive. The behaviour exhibited before and after separation is a factor. It is also relevant to understand the range of stimuli important to that animal, that maintains its emotional homeostasis. It is good to differentiate separation behaviours from others, when diagnosing and producing a behaviour plan tailored to the dog McCrave E (1991). We thoroughly assess and will use systematic desensitisation, within your behaviour modification plan. Research has been done on the most effective methods, for dogs exhibiting a variety of symptoms, when the owner was absent. Including a systematic desensitisation plan was found to be a significantly more effective and a critical element to success. Appleby D, Pluijmakers J (2004), Butler R, Sargisson R (2011).

Many owners will not be aware of their dogs distress, until they return to previous routines, when lockdown lifts. The dog becomes distressed when totally alone. Owners are then suddenly in a stressful predicament, with no quick fix. Separation anxiety is a devastating condition. The dog is in a very scary situation when alone, not knowing if, or when the care giver will return. The dog is literally in a state of panic.

For a smooth return after lockdown, to being absent for normal routines, for dogs and owners, Canine Whispers can help. Reducing the potential for separation problems must however, begin now, while you are based at home. There are things we can do now, to avoid separation issues and guide your dog back to normal routines. This is the best time to begin revision of being alone, for the dogs that were previously ok and lockdown puppies that know nothing of normal human routines.

If you want to learn techniques, to ease your dog back to the regular routines, or suspect that your dog already has separation problems when you are absent. A consult with Canine Whispers Clinical Behaviourist can help.The first step is to get your vet to diagnose and eliminate any underlying clinical causes. Separation problems are common. It is important that the vet first assesses the animal. To help along side the behaviour plan with you and the behaviourist, the vet may consider pharmacotherapy, or pheromone use. Avoid quick fix solutions, they can exasperate the problem. Effective long term results, with separation anxiety takes time Sherman B Mills D (2008).

Virtual dog behaviour consultation, with ability for video review and live assessment are great for separation problems. If filmed without compromising welfare, this will greatly aid diagnosis and assessment. Separation behaviour can feel stressful for owners as well as the dog. There is support  after consult to help you progress. Packages with extra weekly support and video review, or live assessment are also offered.

References: Appleby D, Pluijmakers J (2004) Separation anxiety in dogs. The function of homeostasis in its development and treatment. Available from.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12701515/. Accessed 23/2/21.

Butler R, Sargisson R (2011) The efficacy of systematic desensitisation for treating the separation-related problem behaviour of domestic dogs. Elsevier. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Available from; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159110002923. Accessed 23/2/21.

Dogs Trust (2020) warns of impending dog behaviour crisis as new research shows the impact of lockdown on the nations dogs. Dogs Trust Available from; https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/news-events/news/2020/dogs-trust-warns-of-impending-dog-behaviour-crisis-as-new-research-shows-the-impact-of-lockdown-on-the-nation-s-dogs. Accessed 23/1/21. McCrave E (1991) Veterinary Clinics of north America: Small Animal Practice. Elsevier. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195561691500309. Accessed 23/2/21

Sherman B Mills D (2008) Canine anxieties and phobias an update on separation anxiety an noise aversion. Veterinary Clinics ofNorth America. Small Animal Practice, 38(5), 1081-1106 available from; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195561608001125. Accessed 23/2/21