3 Dangerous Myths About Separation Anxiety In Dogs (That Need To Be Debunked)
Last year, I completed a specialized course specifically about separation anxiety in dogs. I am now a certified SA Pro trainer and I studied under Julie Naismith. Julie is a separation anxiety expert who is the author of the book Be Right Back!, a book (designed for owners) that is all about treating separation anxiety in dogs. Since I have been now working in the field of separation anxiety, I have noticed many common myths and misconceptions about the condition. In this post, I have named and attempted to debunk a few of these myths to hopefully spread awareness about separation anxiety in dogs.
1. You caused your dog to have separation anxiety.
Research has not shown that coddling your dog too much has caused them to have separation anxiety. However, there IS research that shows that separation anxiety (and anxiety in general) in dogs is strongly correlated with genetic predisposition and early life experiences.
2. They will get used to it if you continue to let them "cry it out"
Because separation anxiety is a fear-based panic disorder in dogs, exposing them to what makes them panic (being alone) day after day tends to make their anxiety get worse, not better. This is because every time they are left alone, they are going into panic mode and going to continue to think that they are not safe. When working with animals, exposing an individual to something they are terrified of at full blast tends to increase the animal's fear, not decrease it. This is partly because the animal cannot logically understand that they are okay and that nothing bad will happen to them. In their mind, being alone is not safe, so the panic ensues. Instead, separation anxiety training involves exposing your dog to alone time incrementally at a level that they can handle, and slowly increasing it!
3. A stronger crate is a good solution.
Unfortunately, many dogs who have separation anxiety ALSO suffer from confinement anxiety (aka increased anxiety when locked in tight spaces). While getting a tougher crate may contain the dog so they cannot ruin your furniture, it can often increase the dog's panic response and actually be physically dangerous for them. This is because many dogs will continue to try to escape from the crate and will actually injure themselves in the process. This strategy is not only dangerous for your dog physically, but is not likely to help resolve their separation anxiety either.
If your dog shows signs of separation anxiety, please do not feel like you caused it! While there is no easy & quick fix, there are methods that can help your dog to overcome their fears, which will in turn help you get your freedom back!
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