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Separation related behavior in dogs and cats: separation anxiety, over attachment - Research Paper Example

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Separation-related anxiety is a common behavioural disorder in dogs and cats, diagnosed in 20-40% of cases presented to speciality behaviour clinics in the U.S. and Great Britain (Schwartz, 2003). It is not quite clear what causes the disorder. However, evidence suggests that…
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Separation related behavior in dogs and cats: separation anxiety, over attachment
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Separation related behavior in dogs and cats: separation anxiety, over attachment

Download file to see previous pages... Flannigan and Dodman (2001) cite the following as the most common signs of the disorder in dogs. The dogs often exhibit destructive characteristics such as digging, chewing and scratching either at the door or windows, usually in an attempt to force their way into reuniting with their owners. There is also a vocalisation tendency whereby the dogs howl, bark and cry in trying to get their owner to return. The dogs also tend to show inappropriate elimination such as frequent urination and defecation and other signs of autonomic arousal such as hypersalivation.
In cats, Schwartz (2003) says separation anxiety may occur following separation of the cat from its owner. In other cases, the disorder may occur as a result of separating the cat from a friend with which the cat had developed a resilient bond. A cat with separation anxiety often wants to stay with the owner at all times (Serpell, 1996). In the event that the owner wants to leave the house, the cat often a characteristic behaviour of sulking and hiding; sometimes it gets between the owner and the door. Upon returning of the owner, Serpell (1996) says the cat may show abnormally enthusiastic ritual greeting.
The exact aetiology of the disorder in dogs remains uncertain. However, Flannigan and Dodman (2001) suggest that pathologic overattachment to the owner, change in family routine, and negative early experiences as some of the aetiology. For example, too premature parting from their dam besides, in some cases, disturbing involvement while alone. Voith and Borchelt (1996) also say the disorder could be genetic since the dogs have been bred to be socially dependent. In the case of cats, Schwartz (2003) speculates that both genetic and environmental factors play a part in causing the disorder. In addition, a kitten may develop the condition in the event that is orphaned or weaned early.
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