Food & HealthTips & FactsTraining & Behavior

Do Chihuahuas Have Separation Anxiety?

Was your chihuahua excited to finally see you after a long day of work? This is a typical scene that dog owners are very familiar with. It takes away all of the weight they had to carry that day to see someone enthusiastic about their presence. Dogs that have bonded with their owners to a high degree thrive on their affection leading to separation anxiety. However, can that degree reach extremes that can no longer be classified as a healthy bond?

The condition “Separation Anxiety” is a term that describes an overly loyal and clingy dog that will panic without its owner. Puppies are the ones usually the victim of this phenomenon, and they eventually grow out of this phase. But some cases made people conclude that this term is an actual behavioral condition.

In this article, we will chew over chihuahuas and the separation anxiety found in dogs. If you are curious that your chihuahua is overly loyal, clingy, and dependent on you, you are in the right place. But, first, we need to discuss separation anxiety in general and its symptoms.

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a behavioral condition that is common in dogs. They will have sudden changes in their behavior once their owners leave them. As the name suggests, they panic over the thought of not being with their owner. This means they can’t live alone without the owner for long periods of time. For example, the dog may suffer a lot if its owner is at work or school for the whole day.

This condition usually targets one person only. Which is the person the dog is most attached to. Though the dog will appreciate the presence of other humans, it still craves that person’s presence specifically, which is why dogs that are onto another person’s care can still show signs of separation anxiety.

The signs of separation anxiety are evident and transparent. They include sudden changes in behavior, usually leading to aggression. These symptoms include:

  • Frequent Littering

Dogs that suffer from this condition will pee and litter excessively. They might also ignore their regular littering spots and do it anywhere.

  • Restless Searching

Your dog may start to try to somehow search for you around the house. For example, they will rip out couches, destroy furniture, and try to burrow in the floor. This is their way of trying to find you and a similar symptom of anxiety in humans (restlessness). They may even try to break out of the house or their enclosure in an attempt to find you.

  • Excessive Barking And Howling

The dog will start to howl constantly, bark, cry and make noise when left by the owner. This is a way of “calling” you the only way they know-how, which is barking and howling. They may do this for long periods while you are away.

  • Coprophagia

Though it is pretty standard for some dogs to eat their feces, it can become obsessive behavior. Even with the presence of their owner, they may eat their manure as a form of attention-seeking. However, they only usually do this when no one is looking. It can become an underlying condition once your dog develops separation anxiety.

Can Chihuahuas Have This Condition?

🐕‍🦺 The answer is a big yes. Any dog can develop separation anxiety, especially during Chihuahuas’ younger years. As with any dog, chihuahuas can develop this condition depending on their situation. Since your chihuahua lives with you every day, they will get used to your routine. Once you start to put on some perfume, which you usually do before you leave, they will begin to freak out. It serves as a sort of cue for them that you are going to leave soon. The trick is to switch up your routine in order to buy up more time.

Instead of putting on perfume last, you may eat breakfast instead which you usually do first thing in the morning. This gives your chihuahua the impression that you will still stay for a while before leaving. This can generally calm them down for a certain period of time.

It is caused by a number of things, which we will discuss in the next section.

Causes Of Separation Anxiety

Though separation anxiety can simply be caused by attachment in mild cases, other factors are to consider. These causes are usually more severe cases of separation anxiety.

  • Past Traumatic Experience With Abandonment

If the dog was abandoned or left in a shelter, it could be a cause for separation anxiety. The likely reason is that the dog expected the owners to come back, but they did not. So now that the dog is in a new home, it will crave the attention it never found in the past. This is the most usual case for dogs that were rescued or were adopted from animal shelters.

  • Adjusting Into New Places And Schedules

If you moved houses or had different schedules all of a sudden, it may be the cause. Sudden changes can hinder the dog’s ability to adapt to those changes. It could also be that you had less time for your dog than you usually did.

  • Loss Of The Presence Of Their Favorite Owner

Because of the death or departure of a dog’s favorite person, they may develop the condition. Like the second cause, they may be unable to adapt to sudden changes that happened.

How Far Can Separation Anxiety Go?

🐕‍🦺 If separation anxiety progresses into more severe phases or is left untreated, it can become even worse. Separation anxiety can evolve into a more severe condition, which is depression. Depression can be potentially fatal to any species of animals that develop it. It can cause a lack of appetite and low mood that can hinder their chances of survival.

🐕‍🦺 Separation anxiety can also lead to self-destructive behaviors, such as the dog hurting itself. It will also cause their immune system to drop due to the depressive phases. Ulcers and infections often accompany long-term separation anxiety because of this.

🐕‍🦺 This condition is not something that any owner should ignore once their dog has it. It is potentially dangerous and volatile, especially if you have no more time for them. Furthermore, it could not be solved by simple operations like those in physical conditions.

🐕‍🦺 You are going to have to treat the dog yourself because your presence is required to do so. No one else can perform these treatments because the main subject of the condition is your presence. In addition, it ensures your chihuahua is stable during the whole process. In the next section, we will talk all about the treatments you can administer.

Treatments For Separation Anxiety

It is worth noting that you should be patient throughout this whole process. It may take some time and periods of regression, but you have to persevere through it. Also, under any circumstance, do not physically hurt your chihuahua for discipline. It is highly ineffective and can only worsen their condition. With that out of the way, we will proceed to some treatment methods for separation anxiety.

  • Counterconditioning

This treatment is used in a lot of behavioral conditions for dogs. It involves turning the experience that triggers their need into something rewarding. In this case, we will reward them when the person they are attached to is absent. It may be giving them treats, foods, or toys that can entertain them. It turns the bad experience into an event that they can feel okay with.

You can try this treatment in progression. That means you can start 15-20 minutes without your presence after you have their toys or treats. Then it can progress to 30 minutes, an hour, until it is completely treated. This treatment, however, is for mild and some moderate cases of the condition.

  • Training And Socialization

You can train your chihuahua to become socialized and adaptable to other humans. They are very intelligent and can become versatile with the proper training. First, you can get a higher dog sitter to take care of them. Then, you will have to train them to become socialized with that dog sitter. That way, they will not feel alone.

  • Scent

For some dogs, your scent is all they need in order to calm down. You can give them a piece of cloth or used clothing with your scent once you leave the house. This can soothe their anxiety when they start craving for your presence. Though it does not work for all dogs, it is recommended by some veterinarians.

  • Seeking Help From A Professional

Though this is the most pricey option, it is one of the most effective treatments. You will usually need an Animal Behaviorist for the treatment. This professional will provide you and your chihuahua with a routine that you can follow. They may also offer training for your chihuahua in order to make them more suitable for treatment. This can be your last resort if all other procedures fail.

To know more about the proper ways on how to care for Chihuahuas, click here.

Bottom Line

Separation anxiety can become a severe illness if left untreated as a long-term condition. It is something that your chihuahua itself can’t control, much like the mental illnesses in humans. They will need to have proper treatment, time, and a whole lot of patience from you.

Remember that this condition is not because you are a terrible owner. It is the opposite, in fact. It mainly stems from the fact that your chihuahua has an unbreakable attachment for you. However, anything excess can become unhealthy, and that includes dependency.