Our Modern Lifestyle: Second-Hand Smoke To Pets?
Much of the stress and pressure on people today is very new when we look at the history of humankind. Globally, we are learning more and more about the significant impact of “social determinants” of health. Modern lifestyle impacts pets as well as people. One particular example is the rise in “separation anxiety” among our pets, especially dogs, where modern lifestyle demands are at odds with a pet’s nature.
It’s natural for young mammals to experience anxiety when separated from their mothers and siblings; it’s an adaptive survival mechanism. A pup who gets separated from his family cries in distress, enabling Mom to easily find him and rescue him. In the wild, even an adult canine who is left alone is more likely to die – either from starvation, since he has no pack to hunt with, or from attack, since he has no pack mates for mutual protection. For this reason, signs of separation anxiety in puppies is somewhat expected.
Given the importance of a dog’s canine companions, it speaks volumes about the dog’s adaptability as a species that we can condition them to accept being left alone at all! We’re lucky we don’t have far more problems than we do, especially in today’s world, where few households have someone at home regularly during the day to keep the dog company.
There was a time in our society when fewer dogs were left home alone – Mom stayed home while Dad went off to work every day – so dogs had less exposure to the kind of daily isolation that contributes to separation anxiety behavior. Some behavior scientists theorize that experiencing a fear-causing event when a young dog is already mildly stressed about being alone can trigger more intense “home alone” anxiety behaviors.
In today’s world there are a significant number of dogs who are afflicted with some degree of separation distress. The best solution for how to break a dog’s separation anxiety depends largely upon the dog’s situation and anxiety triggers. Fortunately, many dog owners these days are willing to seek solutions to behavior problems rather than just “getting rid of” the dog. As a result, behavior professionals are likely to see canine clients with separation distress disorders.