What is separation distress?
Dogs are incredibly social beings. They have lived with us for thousands of years and being alone does not fit very well with their natural desires. Separation distress can take three main forms;
- Separation Anxiety in its ‘pure’ sense is a feeling of anxiety when separated from a particular person/people. A dog with this will not feel much better even if they have someone else left with them, so it is a person they are missing (this may be worsened by having isolation anxiety……)
- Isolation Anxiety is if a dog becomes anxious at being alone. In these cases, having someone else to look after the dog should ease a fair proportion of their stress
- Confinement Anxiety is if a dog is confined to a space – this can be as small as a crate or as large as a room, but if they are scared and stressed about the fact that they cannot escape this space, that is at the root of this type of problem.
There may be elements of some or all of these in some dogs. The first two types can be ascertained by seeing if a dog is reassured by being looked after by someone else. If so, then it is likely that they have an isolation issue. If they are still anxious with someone there who isn’t their owner, then the chances are that separation anxiety is a problem. We do not recommend leaving your dog in a crate. By all means, if your dog has been positively crate-trained, the crate can be left in the room with the door open so that they can choose to go in if it provides them with some reassurance, but they are not forced to stay in.