Podcast #11: Separation anxiety: how to prevent and resolve hyper-attachment

Written by Napo HQ
2nd Sep 2022
25 mins listen
Separation anxiety is a term commonly thrown around, but within it are a number of unique and complex problems that might cause irrational behaviours.
Whether you’re a new puppy owner focused on prevention, or you’re seeking help for an older dog suffering with these issues, Clinical Animal Behaviourist Hanne Grice joins us on The Pet Perspective this week to offer top tips on spotting these behaviours, and how to prevent/remedy them.

This episode of The Pet Perspective covers:

  • Shocking links between separation anxiety and dogs’ physiology.
  • Methods of training independence in puppies.
  • What can be done for older dogs with long standing separation-related problems.
  • How long is too long to leave a dog alone
  • The best tools to help you monitor and alleviate separation anxiety.

Episode highlights

1:15 - Hanne Grice

“So when we hear the term separation anxiety, it’s often used as an umbrella term by owners, or even by some of the clinical animal behaviourists, to describe a range of separation related behaviours when the dog’s alone. You may have a dog that barks when they're home alone, but that could be triggered by frustration, where he might see other people passing by the window, or the dog may have a noise phobia.”

7:35 - Hanne Grice

“There are higher tech devices out there that also can help, and that's thermal imaging. Now most owners don't have that sort of equipment, but what's great when we're looking at that used from a clinical animal behaviour perspective, is that when they’re stressed, body temperatures change. That can give us a real indication of whether the dog is panicking.”

9:45 - Hanne Grice

“We know there's psychological consequences, but there is data to suggest that there's physiological changes too, so similarities to us are disturbed sleep, stomach ulcers, vomiting or hair loss.”

13:15 - Hanne Grice

“Hyper-attached dogs tend to be the ones that want to constantly seek proximity to the individual. So you go for a pee, the dog’s by your feet. The dog looks asleep, you walk in to make a cuppa, suddenly it's jumped up and the dog’s following you around.”

16:40 - Hanne Grice

The most important thing is establishing stable routines, and teaching puppy independence. That comes from the get-go when we get the puppy. Really importantly, we need to avoid punishment based methods.”

19:15 - Hanne Grice

“When you're at the point where the puppy is napping happily in that safe area, or settled with the food enrichment toys, we now have a new aim. That new aim is increasing time bursts of where they can't see you, so your disappearances. In the early days and weeks, we're talking seconds at a time.”

23:15 - Hanne Grice

“I would encourage owners to tap into the great services that we have nowadays, because we need to reduce the time that animals spend alone. There's even research to suggest that prolonged periods of isolation can produce the same sort of effects as pain.”

Tell us what you think

If you have a topic you'd like us to discuss in a future episode of the podcast, or if you have any questions for our guests, let us know on Instagram or Facebook.

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