If you constantly worry about your dog when you leave for work, the store, or even to the mailbox, you could have a codependent relationship with your pet. Creating an unhealthy bond between owner and pet can manifest in separation anxiety when you are apart. Make your pet the best that they can be and help curb anxiety which can lead to behavioral problems.
Is your dog becoming codependent? Here's what you need to know:
Signs of Separation Anxiety
Pet owners that make a big deal of greeting and departing their pets are fostering separation anxiety in dogs. Don't drag out goodbyes; it only stresses the pet and puts more attention on the fact that you are leaving their presence. Some signs that a pet has difficulty being away from you include:
- Barking or crying.
- Going to the bathroom on the floor.
- Pacing around the room or at the door.
- Chewing and damage around the home.
- Running away.
If these behaviors are paired with physical signs of distress, such as excessive drooling or Coprophagia (eating their own excrement), talk to your veterinarian.
Codependency in Pets
Codependent owners often groom codependency in pets. This stems from the owner assigning human characteristics to the relationship with their pet, which can cause confusion and anxiety in your pet. Dogs can learn that problematic behaviors gets a reaction from their favorite human, which can lead to a chaotic relationship with your furry friend.
How Owners Can Help
Don't underestimate the distress that codependency can cause your pet; prolonged stress and anxiety can have physical impacts and repercussions over time.
Some things for owners to do when they notice separation anxiety signs in pets can include:
- Take your pet to the veterinarian to rule-out any underlying medical cause of the behaviors.
- Desensitize your pet by making frequent, brief trips outside the home while leaving the pet inside.
- Reducing the drama of greeting or saying goodbye to your dog each time you come or go.
- Try setting up your phone or web-cam to capture what your pet does when you leave. This can be very enlightening and may reveal that your dog settles down immediately, or show the level of distress your absence causes them.
Talk to pet experts about reward systems and training activities that may help ease your pet's separation anxiety and encourage your dog to self-soothe.
Does your pet freak-out when you leave them behind? Watch your own behaviors to make sure you are not fostering codependency and causing your pet undue stress and anxiety when you are apart. Talk to your vet about other strategies to alleviate stress in an anxious pet. For more information, contact establishments like Ark Veterinary Hospital.