I have had an English bulldog now for a few years. We have become close and spend most of our day together. Recently I decided to start working part-time again, and I am concerned whether my English bulldog will suffer from separation anxiety when I am away for a few hours. I have heard that certain dog breeds can have severe symptoms.
I decided to do a little research myself, and here is what I found.
Do English Bulldogs have separation anxiety?
Do English Bulldogs have separation anxiety? Yes. The English bulldog is a dog breed that can suffer separation anxiety. While their background was one of aggression, in more recent years, breeding has removed these tendencies. Instead, they are bred to be companion animals and can have a hard time being away from their owner.
English bulldogs had a background of aggression due to what they were bred for. After breeding removed these traits, the English bulldog became the sweet-natured, loving, if not overly independent dog we know today.
Full loving and a bit of a clown, the English bulldog still carries around the reputation of days gone by, fierce, aggressive, and a dog with a strong presence and confidence. This aggressiveness, however, is far from who they are as a dog.
Cuddly and loveable, they enjoy nothing more than to please their owner and be a part of the family. They thrive best by being right beside those they love and can have a hard time when they are not allowed to do that.
Not all English bulldogs are the same, a few will adjust nicely to being apart from their owner or family. Generally, most English bulldogs behave best when right beside their owner and family.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a condition in dogs that can cause distress, anxiety, and behavior problems when they are not with those they love most, their family or owner. At this time, it’s unclear why this condition happens or why some dogs suffer more than others.
Signs of separation anxiety
Signs of separation anxiety include:
- Defecating and urination inside the home
- Barking or other noises
- Destructive or excessive chewing or biting
- Negative behaviors such as scratching and digging
- Following the owner around
Symptoms can begin almost immediately after the English bulldog becomes separated from their owner or family.
The behavioral symptoms can last for the entire length of time that the owner or family is away and can escalate as time goes on. The symptoms can also vary from dog to dog and situation to situation.
For some dogs, the symptoms may be mild, and other dogs may have more severe symptoms.
What are some ways to help them adjust during separation?
The best method for helping them adjust during separation is to have a ritual that the English bulldog can depend on. This ritual might include playing catch in the yard for a few minutes before sharing treats and cuddles. Then this could be followed by the owner or family standing at the door and saying goodbye to the English bulldog with a dog treat.
There is no right or wrong way to design a farewell ritual with an English bulldog. What’s important. is that the ritual is implemented every time the owner or family leaves the English bulldog. Dogs operate on habit, I eat dinner after my owner does, I go for a walk before I eat breakfast, etc.
In the beginning, the owner implements the ritual and leaves the English bulldog for a drive around the block and come back. This small separation will allow the dog to see that the owner has returned, and it will help the owner with their dog’s stress.
If this ritual is consistently done, with time, the dog will come to understand what is happening and accept it. The dog will know that the owner or family will be returning at some point. The length of time for an English bulldog to accept this ritual as part of their lives varies from one dog to the next.
Patience and time are a must for a positive outcome.
It is also important that the ritual remains pretty much the same so as not to confuse the English bulldog. If the English bulldog gets playtime and cuddles, but the treat was forgotten, they may not understand, and behave badly while the owner is gone.
Aside from a daily ritual, having a few handy tools will make life easier for everyone.
These tools can include:
- A recently worn shirt or piece of clothing from the owner
- Favorite toys
- A comfortable bed
- Food and water
- Soothing music or a television
These tools will help provide a comfortable environment for the English bulldog while their owner is away. The owners’ clothing provides the dog with their scent, which will provide emotional and mental comfort.
The toys can provide distraction in moments of boredom. The treats can be hidden around the house before the owner leaves, providing something to entertain the dog, finding the dog treats they smell. The sound of music or television can help them feel less alone.
When the owner returns, it is a good idea for them to spend some time reuniting with their beloved pet. For the English bulldog, it can seem like an eternity since they last saw their owner, ensuring that they feel loved and acknowledged will help them adjust better to these times of separation.
If a dog is crate trained, these tools are used, in a smaller environment. Although if the owner plans to be away for an extended amount of time, it may be better to consider boarding the dog in a kennel.
Does training help with separation anxiety?
Yes, training can help with separation anxiety. Any type of training, whether basic command or specialized for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, can help promote confidence in the dog.
This confidence helps them feel secure when their owner or family is away. Combine this with a ritual that they can depend on and even the most anxious English bulldog can adjust to separation.
What happens if the above tools are not helping?
What happens if an English bulldog still suffers from separation anxiety after you have exhausted the tools, is to provide a friend.
Some English bulldogs may still have trouble with their owner’s separation, and having a trusted caregiver can make life easier.
Having a friend, family member, neighbor or specialized caregiver come in to check on them can bring them happiness. Some English Bulldogs get lonely, having someone to pet them and spend some time with them could be the answer.
This person could talk to them, take them for a short walk, or let them out to use the bathroom. They could play with toys and feed them treats.
This person comes along to care for them when their loved one isn’t around. They also provide a diversion from the loneliness and boredom that any dog can feel from time to time.
Finally, this caregiver can check to make sure the house is still safe and secure for the English bulldog and that everything is as it should be.
What causes separation anxiety in an English bulldog?
It is unclear what causes separation anxiety. Some dogs may have suffered from a traumatic event at some time in their lives. This event could have been as a puppy or more recently and can have an impact on how they handle stressful or difficult situations. Changes to their routine or in their environment can also trigger this condition.
The severity of symptoms is usually related to their response to the situation that caused or triggered the separation anxiety.
Each English bulldog is an individual, and certain breeds can suffer more than others due to their attachment and dependency on their owner. The English bulldog suffers more than other dogs, and their owner must be aware of this emotional tendency.
Can separation anxiety be a sign of an illness?
No, separation anxiety is not a sign of an illness. It is a stand-alone condition that is more emotional and behavioral than physical. Any English bulldog with an illness can still suffer from this condition.
It is also possible that a physical health condition can cause an English bulldog to suffer from separation anxiety. When a dog doesn’t feel well, the dog wants to be close to the owner for care, comfort, and love.
While separation anxiety can be exhausting for everyone involved, many remedies and tools are available to help an English bulldog feel more safe, secure, and confident.
With time, patience, and understanding, these moments of separation are accepted into their life with ease. Owners may find it hard to cope at times but there are things that can be done to make things better.
If all else fails, taking a deep breath, and remembering the love behind the behaviors can help make life a little easier in these moments.