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Hyper Attachment – A Symptom of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Hyper attachment in dogs is the most common problem amongst puppies and older dogs. This article describes the causes, symptoms, and solutions for hyper attached dogs.

What Causes Hyper Attachment in Dogs?

Dogs can develop hyper attachment issues for a number of reasons. Dogs that have deficiencies in their sensory perception such as sight and hearing are likely to develop hyper attachment. Attachment problems are also common in pups that have been adopted from a shelter. Such dogs become overly attached to their owner if the have been abandoned or traumatized prior to adoption. Thus, they often require greater care and sensitivity.

What are the Symptoms of Hyper Attachment?

Dogs that suffer from attachment issues are often called Velcro dogs, because they are always stuck to their owners sides. Hyper attached dogs show signs of nervousness and anxiousness when they are unable to be close to their owners. Dogs often become overly attached to one member of the household. You can test this by having all of the family members in a room, then observe the dogs behavior as each person leaves. If the dog gets up to follow, or is unsettled while a person is away, they are probably overly attached to that person. Hyper attached dogs often also suffer from dog separation anxiety. This behavior is a reliable indicator of separation anxiety because it can be seen while you are home, whereas something like barking while you are away, is more difficult to catch.

What can I do about Hyper Attachment?

Hyper Attachment in dogs can be treated with some specific training drills. These drills may include desensitization and counter-conditioning. One drill is the “Steps” drill. It is useful for puppies and older dogs. Start by getting your dog to sit. Then take a step away. Reward the dog for staying and for being calm. As your repeat the drill, keep taking steps away until you are out of sight. Stay out of sight for a few seconds, then come back and treat your dog. If your dog is nervous, wait for them to be calm before you give them a treat. Never reward anxious behavior. Gradually build up the time and distance so that you can put your dog in another room away from you without any change in its behavior.

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