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COVER STORY

Separation anxiety in a dog is the equivalent of a full-blown panic attack in a human being, due to the anxiety and fear of being left alone

Home Alone: The Painful Puzzle

Terrie Hayward defines the medical diagnosis of separation anxiety

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and explains why the solution is not the same as helping out a dog who is simply bored or lonely

ave you ever heard people say that your dog is „just bored‰ or „stubborn,‰ (see Why Your Dog Is Not Stubborn) or being „vindictive‰ because you have not invited him along and have left him at home? Perhaps you have also been privy to the advice that he will „just get over it,‰ or to leave a Kong, or a piece of your clothing around to comfort him.

© Can Stock Photo/herreid

What is Separation Anxiety?

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Unfortunately, the above suggestions are not relevant to the diagnosis of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a panic disorder. Oftentimes any sort of anxiety that a dog experiences when alone is labeled with this familiar term. However, separation anxiety is a clinical diagnosis, made by a veterinarian, that is defined as a dog who has a hyperattachment to one or two people and is unable to be left alone. BARKS from the Guild/May 2016

Separation anxiety in a dog is the „equivalent of a full-blown panic attack in a human being due to the anxiety and fear of being left alone.The severity of the panic attack and the way each dog manifests and displays it may be different, but the physiological basics are the same. Fear and anxiety are best friends, and the hormonal and neuro-chemical processes that happen when these emotions are triggered are not under simple mind control, certainly not by dogs (and generally not by humans, either)." (DeMartini-Price, 2014). Dogs who experience separation anxiety exhibit distress and stress-related behavioral problems when separated from their guardian(s) and may present in a variety of ways.The issue might be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. However, the categorization has no bearing on the timeframe to a solution or improvement. Dogs may appear anxious or depressed prior to their

BARKS from the Guild May 2016  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...

BARKS from the Guild May 2016  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...