Separation anxiety, fear of confinement and noise aversion in dogs

25 June 2018 – News

Fear-related behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, fear of confinement and noise aversion have a huge impact in the quality of life of dogs and their owners. These animals suffer high levels of stress which can lead to other injuries.. They are also at a higher risk of abandonment or even euthanasia.

Dogs can struggle with one or more of these issues at the same time and the clinical signs can be difficult to distinguish. The diagnostic approach should include a thorough behavioral history and a clinical examination to exclude possible medical causes. Video documentation is an excellent way to observe clinical signs affected dogs show at home e and what triggers these behaviors.

Signs of canine separation anxiety appear when they are alone or when they assume their owner is not present. Stress related to fear of confinement occurs when the dog is restricted to an enclosed space.  This condition can be discarded from the list of differential diagnosis if the dog willingly looks for an enclosed area to rest in a normal day. Dogs struggling with noise phobia will typically start showing signs if they hear a loud noise.

Treatment options for these disorders include behavior modification strategies combined with the use of psychopharmaceuticals. Initial treatment and further adjustments are intended to make the dog feel more comfortable and to help manage the situation. It’s important to address the owner’s expectations as it is unlikely that treatment willeliminate unwanted behaviors completely.

In Ballantyne. (2018) Separation, Confinement, or Noises: What Is Scaring That Dog? Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 48 (3), 367–386.