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In all honesty, we don’t know why separation anxiety affects some dogs and not others. Separation anxiety is an anxiety disorder that some dogs, due to temperament, are more susceptible or predisposed to than others—just as we humans have varying degrees of susceptibility to anxiety issues. Separation anxiety is not a behaviour. It is not something your dog chooses. In some cases, separation anxiety is triggered by a traumatic experience. Common triggers are losing a home, a family move, a change in the family such as a divorce or death, the loss of a doggie companion, or a frightening incident such as a home burglary. The current research is pointing to the following factors, but so much more research is needed before we can conclusively point to a specific thing:

Early life experiences *
Maternal stress during pregnancy
Maternal behaviour
Bad experiences – things that happened that made the situation worse *
So before you feel guilt over something you have done to cause your dog’s anxiety, let me clarify. Of the above list, the only two items you might have any influence over are flagged with an asterisk. Home alone training for puppies is critical preventative training to ensure a puppy can relax on their own as they grow. It ranks up there with house training, in my view. Ensuring that your puppy does not have frightening experiences is always something we need to strive for, as experiencing one fearful event can imprint on the dog with lasting effects. You cannot affect your dog’s genetics, and unless you are breeding your dogs, you cannot affect how your dog’s mother’s stress levels or behaviour were, while in-utero or after birth.

Allowing your dog to sleep on your bed or being kind and gentle with your dog will not result in a dog that has separation anxiety.

For other common myths, please read my blog on the Top Separation Anxiety Myths.***need new link

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