When a dog owner first meets a dog. It is love at first sight. The owner is constantly wondering what can I do for this dog? How can I give it a better future? The dog in turn replies with affection, and suddenly an unimaginable bond is made. However, when something comes into the owner’s life that disrupts this bond, the dog can’t handle it. This is what we mostly see with separation anxiety. Where suddenly this enmeshed couple has been broken up by an external event. Of course, the dog does not know how to handle it, so it will destroy furniture, run around, bark, howl, etc.
When the owner comes home, he does not know what to make out of the situation. Often times, owners are confused, and feel almost betrayed as though the dog intentionally meant to hurt them. Now suddenly this couple in a way has it’s first challenge.
Most of the time we see the next step of separation anxiety at another level where we see dogs that are actually guarding owners. In other words. The dog has become attached with an owner and another person has come in between the two (dog and owner). Now once again the dog has felt alienated and without any cognitive abilities to understand what is going on, all they can do is work based off of their feelings. Once again, the original bond with their owner is being tested.
At this point, dogs will do one of two things. They will either submit to the new event the owner’s life or they will fight aggressively against the change that is occurring such to the point of psychological distress. In the cases where dogs have accepted the new event or events that have happened in an owner’s life, it’s better to say that they have to come to peace and acceptance as to what is currently happening in their owner’s lives.
The other extreme alternative, is where the dog does not submit and accept what the new norm is for the owner because no positive association has ever been made prior to, during or after the event. If this is the case, then we should see a dog with an altered mental status, as far as behavior goes. This will take place in the form of either indecisiveness, lack of motivation, lethargy, depression, aggression, fear, loneliness, isolation, lack of wanting to play with other dogs and or people.
The worst of these of course are aggression as this can cause harm to the dog’s owner, other dogs, and random strangers. Which could potentially lead to a dog being rehomed, placed in a shelter, or even euthanized if the dog chooses to act on its aggression towards others.
This is why it’s so crucial to begin socializing and establishing with rules with your dog as early as possible.