Separation Anxiety in Dogs & Dog Containment Phobia
Does your dog destroy your house? The cause might NOT be what you think.
If you haven’t experienced coming home to canine-induced chaos, you probably know someone who has. Exploded cushions, fragmented furnishings, destroyed doors — that’s classic separation anxiety; Ruby or Brutus just missing you so much, right?
Well, not necessarily...
Separation Anxiety in Dogs v Containment Phobia
• Does your dog panic in small confined spaces?
• Is the destruction focused outwards ie. doors, windows and window furnishings, baby gates, crates and outside fences and gates?
• Do you come home to your dog having escaped the fence yet again, but sitting happily waiting for you on the doorstep?
Then he/she doesn’t experience separation anxiety; he/she probably has containment phobia.
Dogs are descended from wolves — wolves cannot abide being trapped in a confined space. Dingoes are the same —domesticated dingoes in urban areas need complex containment fences or they will escape very readily, driven by pure instinct.
Containment phobia is not as common as separation anxiety – around two in 10 destructive family dogs are containment phobic – but if it’s misdiagnosed as separation anxiety, you will NEVER get rid of the problem.
A dog with containment phobia that is locked inside may try desperately to get out, but if confined to the backyard they may be equally desperate to get into the house, or to escape over a fence. Unlike claustraphobia, it isn't about the size of the area they are confined to, but the simple fact that they feel trapped and can't get out. While phobias are irrational fears, the pet that suffers senses real threat and danger.
So pay attention to WHERE the damage is if you have a destructive dog and make sure it truly is separation anxiety, (the exploded cushion scenario) not containment phobia.
Finding the cause of phobias and anxiety in dogs can help determine treatment. Both conditions are best dealt with by consulting with a professional canine behaviourist — both are curable, so reach out for the help your dog needs.
And don't forget the golden rule around your dog — stay calm and assertive!