I know some dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Does it help if the dog has the company of another dog or a cat?

asked 2016-03-31 11:02:08 -0600

Trying to determine if other animals help each other with separation anxiety

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Nope. I just watched a dog over the weekend who would not stop crying the entire time. I have my own dog who would try to engage him in play, but the dog would just cry and cry and miss his owner. I tried everything. We really need dog reviews to be shared between sitters!!!

Angela G.'s profile image Angela G.  ( 2016-07-05 11:26:37 -0600 ) edit

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answered 2016-03-31 11:16:13 -0600

In my experience, no. I have had a few dogs with higher levels of separation anxiety stay with me and my dog. Our presence meant nothing, as the dog was not at home with his/her master or family. In fact, one of those dogs lives across the street from me and he and my dog were best friends that rolled around on the sidewalk together whenever we met. He stayed at my house once and it did not work. Rather than play his buddy, he either sat fixated on the front door or climbed up onto a glass-topped table so he could look out the front window. I had to move all the furniture away from the windows and was grateful he wasn't destructive about the door. After that, we tried to condition him to staying at my house. His owner would drop him off in the morning for about a hour, so that he might understand that he was not abandoned and would be going home. I am afraid we didn't do this for very long due to scheduling. However, my neighbor now has people dogsitting at their home and the dog is much better under those conditions. In fact, I just saw him this morning with his sitter and he appears totally unstressed.

So, long story short, I don't believe additional animal company makes any difference.

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I see thanks for your reply!

Marty L.'s profile image Marty L.  ( 2016-03-31 11:53:21 -0600 ) edit
answered 2016-03-31 13:00:09 -0600

Agreed with Karen. While I'm sure there are plenty of stories out there of dogs who were stressed alone who got better with the addition of an animal buddy to the household, those are not the majority (and it's questionable whether the real issue in those success stories was actually separation anxiety rather than something else, like destruction stemming from boredom). Dogs are social, and tend to pick up behaviors from each other (or other animals), good and bad. But anxiety isn't a behavior, it's a state of physiological arousal that is as much innate as it is learned, and if you have one anxious animal, it's far more likely that other animals will pick up on their anxiety and also start to fear an imagined threat than that the anxious dog will come around to calm.

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answered 2016-07-04 13:00:14 -0600

Hi! I agree with Karen and Laura! I have my own personal experience with a dog with extreme separation anxiety. He was a stray who was getting used to a new lifestyle of being fed and being well taken care of. When I would leave for work he would claw at the window and he broke the blinds and was very destructive. Having the presence of my other dog did not help him. Even though they got along and played well, as soon as I walked out the door his entire focus shifted on where I went and if I was coming back.

I agree with Laura about anxiety also being learned. My other dog soon began to show anxious behavior when I would start to grab for my keys. I started giving my dogs tasks to work on ( a tasty bone ((any Kong product)), or a complex dog toy ) when I left. I also would reward them for being calm when I would leave to help desensitize the action of me leaving. I started small starting with grabbing my keys and immediately giving them something to work on and each time I would add time ( I would go outside and close the door and wait for 1 min, and then 5 min and so forth) and then eventually I didn't hear barking when I closed the door and when I came home I would find them sleeping calmly. It helps to not make a big deal of leaving and coming home. When I would come home I would only pet and greet my dogs after they were calm and not jumping on me. As hard as that was, it really helped them understand that it's okay for me to leave and it's okay for me to come back.

All that to say, adding a dog does not help the dog who already struggles with separation anxiety. Doing that can make the issue worse and other animals around him/her will began to express some anxiety as well.

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answered 2016-07-09 20:49:29 -0600

Yes it should with separation anxiety however every dog is different and see id getting a cat would be good or not.

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