Having a dog is a unique experience, which can deeply change our life, but often some little problems of managingcan happen, which can make more difficult the living together with our pet or with the neighbourhood. One of these issues is definitelyseparation stress, which can be prevented if we adopt a puppy, and eased or treated if we adopt an adult pet.
What is separation stress?
Separation stress is a behavioral disorder that can affect any dog, whether male or female, puppy or adult. The dog is usually very attached to its owner, so much so that it looks sickly following him around the house. If he is locked in a room or it is his human best friend who is locked in a room, the dog manifests stress, barks and may even bite or scratch at the door. The stress is even worse when theowner leaves home and the euphoria on his return is out of all proportion (“it seems like we haven’t seen each other for a month, but it’s only been ten minutes…”). Sometimes the dog can destroy the couch, the slippers or even get up to bark and howl continuously, creating problems of coexistence with neighbors.
What are the origins of this issue?
Certainly all manifestations of this pathology can be traced back to a wrong relationship between dog and owner or a wrong socialization between the dog and family members. We must not think that the dog behaves like this to spite us, in many cases the dog behaves like this to express an emotion, even only for the fear of being left alone.
What can we do to help with separation stress?
Surely it is essential to avoid DIY and Contact a veterinary behaviorist, who, with a few sessions, will be able to understand the cause, help the owner to approach in the appropriate way to his pet, and the dog to relax by reducing fear and anxiety, so as to reduce the consequences of these emotions (inappropriate urination, destruction, vocalizations, etc. …). If we adopt a puppy, it is essential to take it at theright age, that is, after two months of life, to guarantee it emotional stability and the possibility of creating a healthy relationship with family members. We should avoid constantly checking the dog by excessively calming him in every situation (for example, always holding him in our arms or avoiding contact with other animals). If we adopt an adult dog we must avoid a new trauma, trying to recover as much information as possible about its past and not to leave it alone immediately after the adoption. The dog in fact is already dealing with a new home and meeting a new family, we should make this experience as sweet as possibile. If our dog suffers from this pathology, we must try to modify the routine with which we approach leaving the house, or repeat the same routine without going out, reducing the state of alertness of our friend. When we return home, we need to avoid excessive celebrations so that we don’t value the time we spent away from home. Of behaviors to adopt there are many, but if the case is serious, surely an expert will be able to help us better manage the situation.
Are there any natural products that can help us overcome this problem?
Well, we can certainly try to calm the dog naturally, so that we can help him overcome his fear safely. There are many active ingredients effective on anxious states, first of all is certainly theanine, contained in some plants such as green tea (Camellia sinesnis), which hasanxiolytic and relaxing properties after a short time after administration, not acting on the waking state of the animal. Hops, just the ones used for beer, have known sedative and calming properties. Tryptophan, essential amino acid precursor of serotonin, is very useful in cases of fear, anxiety and stress, as it is able to interfere with the mood as well as the sleep-wake rhythms. There are also many other active ingredients useful in these cases, but it is always good practice to seek advice from your veterinarian or a veterinarian experienced in behavior.
Dr. Paola Zintu, veterinarian
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