The area of mental health and disease in dogs exists. The dogs, like any other animal with a highly developed brain and a set of neurotransmitters responsible for emotions, can suffer mental problems.
These pathologies that involve the psychology of the dog are very varied and, as in humans, not all dogs evolve in the same way. There are also dogs that are more affected by the progress of their guardian, who are worse off being locked up or who suffer from pathological fears and phobias.
Next, we will see some examples of mental health and disease in dogs, along with their possible treatments. These should always be carried out under the supervision of a veterinarian.
Separation anxiety in dogs
One of the main aberrant behaviors that tutors comment in veterinary clinics is the separation anxiety that their dogs suffer. These, when the tutor leaves home and are left alone, carry out a series of behaviors that can lead to complaints from neighbors or the abandonment of the dog by the guardian:
- Eat inedible things.
- Uncontrolled barking
- Destruction of the furniture of the house.
- Urination and defecation anywhere in the home.
This behavior despairs the tutors who, in most cases do not know how to act or perform actions that worsen the state of the animal.
During anxiety episodes, the dog is in a state of very high stress, is unable to manage frustration and may feel fear.
According to recent studies,Animals manage emotions better if they feel they have control.For example, in these cases the tutors try to hide the dog that they are leaving and, in addition, when they return and the dog has done something he should not, they do not greet him. All this worsens the dog’s anxiety picture.
To treat separation anxiety in dogs, we must first improve the pet’s self-control ability.This is achieved through smell work, that is, tests where the dog must use its nose to find a prize.
On the other hand,We must train the dog to get used to our outings.In small tests of less than five minutes, we will leave home leaving a yellow handkerchief in sight of the dog. We will return, we will greet you quietly and remove the handkerchief. We must do this every day for quite some time. When we go longer, we will leave a handkerchief of another color.
The most important thing is to always greet the dog on our return. If he finds himself very anxious and we don’t even look at him, we will increase his anxiety and frustration further.
On the other hand,when we go more time, for example to work, we can leave a game of smell ready to be entertained for a while and mentally exhausted.
Stereotypes and deleterious behavior in dogs
Stereotypes are a set of repetitive behaviors, sequenced and without any apparent purpose. These behaviors are never observed in nature. They appear as a result of domestication and, above all, confinement.
On the other hand, we have deleterious behavior, which are also obsessive behaviors, however, in them the animal self-mutilates and the risk of physical damage is greater.
These types of behavior only occur when the dog is locked for a while. It is typical in kennels and dog kennels. When stereotypes are observed, it can be determined that animal welfare is compromised and that animals are not well.
The only way to treat these behaviors is through environmental enrichment.Environmental enrichment consists in making the place where the animal lives resemble its natural habitat. In addition, toys that decrease boredom levels can be used. As well as the use of food as environmental enrichment.
Mental health and disease in dogs: phobias
Phobias are very strong anxiety disorders that also occur in dogs.It consists of irrational fear of social and non-social situations that provoke a strong fear in dogs.
The dogs that usually present this type of irrational fears are usually those that have not had a correct social development during their most sensitive time after weaning.In addition, they also present it, dogs that live confined much of their lives, such as animals for breeding or hunting dogs.
Treatment for phobias can be done in combination with drugs.However, it is necessary to consult a canine educator who can guide us towards a therapy of desensitization of fears.