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As every Boxer owner knows, that gruffness and ‘macho act’ is all for show. These are sweet dogs but they also require a lot of your attention to stay happy and well adjusted. Do Boxers have separation anxiety naturally?
No, separation anxiety doesn’t come naturally to every member of this breed, but Boxers are needier than a lot of other dog breeds and thus have a higher chance to develop it. These are very social dogs, after all, and despite looking ‘tough’ they wouldn’t do well as outside dogs at all!
Today we’re going to take a closer look at Boxers and separation anxiety so that you’ll know what it is, what signs to look for, how it’s treated, and more. Let’s take a look at a few things that every Boxer owner needs to know about separation anxiety and their Boxer-dog!
Do Boxers Have Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a condition where your dog has developed a very codependent reliance on your presence, to the point that they are stressed, frightened, and very likely to act out whenever you leave. This can manifest in a number of ways, such as howling when you go, destruction in the home, or even aggressive behaviors or deep depression.
Here are some common symptoms that may indicate separate anxiety in your Boxer:
- Whining and howling – Some dogs will whine or howl when you go and this could just be an innocent protest, but with separation anxiety, it is much more pronounced and may even go on when you are not there. If you hear from the neighbor or a family member that your dog is howling when you’re gone, it could well be separation anxiety.
- Escape attempts – As with the howling, one or two escape attempts are completely normal, especially if your dog is under 2 years of age and thus not yet fully mature. Consistent attempts, however, are fairly common with separation anxiety and a red flag to pay attention to.
- Coprophagia – Dogs will separation anxiety will often urinate or defecate in the home, but in extreme cases, they might also ingest their own waste. This will occur when you are away if it is separation anxiety-related, though it’s something you’ll still want to talk to the vet about.
- Pacing – When you are gone, a dog sitter or family member might notice that your dog is pacing constantly, and this is another sign of separation anxiety. Just as humans pace when they are nervous, so do dogs, but if it happens when you are still there then separation anxiety is not the cause unless it happens whenever you leave the room.
- Aggression towards others – Some dogs that are suffering from separation anxiety will react differently to friends and family members while you are there than they do when you are gone. Some stop listening, while others might even be a bit aggressive and sharp with them – definitely a sign that separation anxiety might be at play.
- Fear – If your dog is afraid of everything or at least of things that don’t normally alarm them, just because you are gone, then separation anxiety is likely and you’ll want to get started with treating it.
Why are Boxers so prone to separation anxiety?
While they act all tough and try to project a ‘confident loner’ image, your Boxer is a big, old ‘teddy bear’ deep down inside. Boxers are very much the social butterflies and should not even be considered if you want an outdoor dog – they simply will not take well to this sort of arrangement.
If you live alone with your Boxer, they can become a bit codependent if you aren’t careful, and that is when the problems will start. Basically, your Boxer starts associating you with all of their entertainment and social needs and then when you have to go somewhere, they feel abandoned, frightened, and hurt.
Considering their amazing ability to chew through anything that isn’t metal and their muscular build, a Boxer with separation anxiety can quickly morph into a canine tornado of destruction, so it’s of vital importance that you make sure that they are properly socialized and don’t become too dependent on you for everything.
How do I keep my Boxer from being so needy?
Keeping your Boxer from becoming too needy isn’t as difficult as you might think – it’s all about socialization to broaden your dog’s social horizons. This can be done with things like little trips to the dog park, so that your Boxer gets to play with other dogs and make new friends, and they need to be around other people, too.
You can invite your friends to visit and arm them with some treats to begin with. Then you should put your dog’s harness on them and attach a lead, walking them over to your friend and telling your Boxer to sit.
In friendly tones, introduce your dog to your friend, who can feed them a treat if your dog seems okay with it. This helps to show your dog that your friends are okay and it also opens your dog up to friendships with humans besides you.
Don’t worry – you’ll always be number one – but expanding your dog’s experience with other animals and people helps them to rely less on you for everything and also helps them to be more of an independent dog. Once they know that they can make friends, they’ll calm down appreciably, and be less susceptible to separation anxiety.
How is separation anxiety treated?
Treating separation anxiety in your Boxer is much the same as keeping it away – it’s a lot of socialization to help to reduce their reliance on you for everything and to encourage them to be more independent and social on their own.
Your vet can help with prescriptions that will ease your dog’s symptoms during this process and they will likely have some useful suggestions for your specific dog that will help out immensely. Prescriptions used for separation anxiety include Clomicalm (Clomipramine) and the doggy-dose of Fluoxetine, better known as Prozac.
There are a few things you do as well to help your dog during this time, such as leaving them some of your clothing that has your scent on it, giving them a treat every time before you go and when you come back, and when you come and go from the house, you’ll want to do it quietly like it’s ‘no big deal’.
It takes a lot of time, so be patient with the process, but your dog will come around. You’ve just got to teach them that the world won’t end when you run a quick errand or go to work and once they learn this, they’ll calm down noticeably.
Why is my old Boxer suddenly so clingy?
If you’ve had your Boxer for a while and they are suddenly developing signs of separation anxiety in their old age, then it’s time to bring them into the vet for a checkup. Older Boxers can get a bit panicky when they start developing health issues in their old age.
This causes them to become extremely clingy because they are worried and having you close by makes them feel safer. It’s heartbreaking but it basically boils down to ‘I don’t feel good, please don’t leave me alone’.
If you see this behavior, don’t panic, but do get your dog into the vet right away to see what is going on with their health.
It could be something minor that medications or even a little more exercise can help, but you want to get a handle on it right away because this will give you the best odds for a chance of successful treatment.
Can a second dog cure separation anxiety?
No, a second dog isn’t going to cure separation anxiety and once it’s already started, it could even make matters a little worse. As a preventative measure, having a second dog around for your Boxer to be buddies with can certainly be quite effective, but it doesn’t replace your company.
Once your dog is already suffering from separation anxiety, your best bet is going to be the treatment options recommended to you by your vet. The socialization tips that we have given you will also help, but at this point and time we do not recommend simply bringing in another dog.
With your dog’s current stress levels, they are more likely to react aggressively to what they might perceive as the unwelcome ‘other dog’ intruding on their home. They are already feeling insecure, after all, so having that other dog around is simply not going to be an effective tool for treatment.
Playtime with other dogs, such as your friend’s dogs or dogs in the dog park can be therapeutic, as this won’t be as threatening to them as a new dog at home, especially since you will be there with them. Try this instead of bringing a new dog home and you’ll get much better progress with helping your dog.
Some final words on Boxers and separation anxiety
Now that you know about separation anxiety, you should be able to keep it at bay or at the very least, you’ll know when it’s time to get your vet involved to help your Boxer to get through this.
While this breed needs a lot of love and attention, proper socialization can help to keep them from becoming codependent on their owner and panicking every time that they leave. Just be sure that they spend some time around other people and animals and try to ‘play down’ the mood when you have to go somewhere.
With a little time and a lot of love and patience, your dog is going to be just fine, and don’t worry – they’ll always miss you when you’re gone – they’re just going to learn to have a better attitude about it!