Causes of Canine Separation Anxiety
Most behavioral abnormalities in companion dogs are caused by some sort of chemical and/or environmental imbalance. The exact cause of separation anxiety is unknown. However, dogs of all ages, genders and breeds have been diagnosed with this disorder, and it is possible that affected dogs have a genetic susceptibility to anxiety disorders, as some people do. Animals that have suffered from abuse, neglect or other traumatic events seem more likely to develop separation anxiety, although that is not true in all cases. We do know that the trigger of the actual symptoms of this condition is separation of the affected dog from its owner or special person. While some people speculate that dogs with separation anxiety are either poorly trained, spoiled or suffering from being an “only child,” there is no verifiable evidence that any of these conditions cause clinical separation anxiety as it is defined medically.
Preventing Separation Anxiety
All companion animals should be maintained in the most positive, stress-free environment possible, with a high quality diet, regular exercise and loving companionship. When a person is considering acquiring a puppy, and when people are evaluating dogs as potential participants in a breeding program, the medical and behavioral traits of the animals and their close family members should be taken into consideration.
Reports suggest that up to 30% of companion dogs experience some degree of separation anxiety during their lives. This is an important condition in our companion animals, and it should not be dismissed as simply a result of inadequate training or socialization.