Can Exercise Reduce Separation Anxiety?

Can Exercise Reduce Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is one of the most common – and problematic – behavioral issues reported by dog owners.
Dog care & health

However, for many dogs, the symptoms of separation anxiety are brought on by boredom and lack of exercise.

Additionally, for mild cases of separation anxiety, extra exercise can help change a dog’s habits. Here, everything you need to know about separation anxiety and exercise will be discussed.  

What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

True separation anxiety occurs when a dog is separated from a person or animal with whom he or she is bonded. Separation anxiety manifest as extreme destruction within the household (i.e. dogs chewing through drywall), obsessive pacing, dangerous escape attempts, excessive barking, and inappropriate elimination. Dogs can suffer from mild, moderate, or severe separation anxiety.

What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

The cause of separation anxiety is unknown. However, animal behaviorists believe that dogs from shelters or those that have survived traumatic experiences are more likely to exhibit signs of separation anxiety. It should be noted that separation anxiety is often confused with boredom and lack of exercise – both of which can cause a dog to exhibit signs such as destruction and excessive barking.  

The main way to tell the difference between separation anxiety and boredom is to observe the dog’s behavioral patterns. If destruction is mainly confined to entrances and exits, separation anxiety is likely to blame. Additionally, dogs with separation anxiety are likely to pace and display obsessive behaviors. On the other hand, dogs that are experiencing boredom will be less predictable in their destructive behavior, and typically cause less damage.  

Can Exercise Reduce Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

Exercise has been shown to be a great method for reducing both boredom and separation anxiety in dogs. When mild separation anxiety is to blame, adequate exercise prior to the owner’s departure can prevent the dog from showing signs of anxiety, due to fatigue. Over time, the dog will learn to associate fatigue with the owner’s absence. If the dog’s behavior is due to boredom, exercise is also a great remedy as it provides distraction for the under-stimulated dog.

How Should Exercise Be Incorporated into a Dog’s Routine?

To get the most out of an exercise routine for preventing separation anxiety and boredom, activity should ideally be performed immediately prior to the owner’s departure. A vigorous run, walk, or play session is a great way to start the day for both you and your pet. If you are short on time or energy, consider training your dog to walk or run on a treadmill as you go about your morning routine. If none of these options fit your needs, consider hiring a local dog walker.

Overall, exercise is important for your dog. Whether your pup is acting out due to separation anxiety or boredom, additional exercise is an easy, inexpensive, and rewarding remedy. 

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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.

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