Dealing With Separation Anxiety In Dogs

The bond between a dog and its owner is extraordinary. However, this strong connection can sometimes lead to challenges. When you need to leave your dog alone, they may experience significant distress, resulting in destructive behavior at home. It's important to remember that separation anxiety is a common issue that affects both the owner and the pet emotionally. To help your dog cope better, continue reading for some useful tips.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety In Dogs

If you've ever had a dog with separation anxiety, you're aware of the various undesirable behaviors it can cause, including:

  • Constant whining, barking and howling
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Destructive actions like chewing or scratching furniture
  • Escape attempts
  • Panting, drooling, or sweating

While these symptoms are numerous, it's important not to assume they indicate separation anxiety immediately. Symptoms like incontinence or excessive drooling might signal a medical issue. Similarly, destructive or attention-seeking behavior could be due to boredom.

What Causes Some Dogs To Develop Separation Anxiety?

Several factors can contribute to a dog developing separation anxiety, and pinpointing the exact cause may not always be possible.

Dogs are highly social animals that form strong bonds with their owners. If a dog is not accustomed to being alone, a sudden separation can cause significant distress. Changes in the household, such as moving to a new home, a family member leaving, the addition of a new family member, or the death of another pet, particularly another dog, can also trigger separation anxiety.

Some dogs and certain breeds are naturally more prone to anxiety, making them more likely to experience separation anxiety. These breeds include German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Labradors, Greyhounds, Bichon Frises, King Charles Spaniels, Border Collies, and Toy Poodles.

Separation Anxiety Treatment In Dogs

The main objective of treating separation anxiety in dogs is to reduce their stress and sense of isolation rather than simply addressing undesirable behaviors.

For mild cases, you can try the following:

  • Give your dog a treat every time you leave the house.
  • Keep your arrivals and departures low-key.
  • Leave an item with your scent, such as an old T-shirt, for your dog.
  • Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise before you go out; a tired dog is less likely to feel anxious.

In severe cases, treatment may involve desensitization and counterconditioning. Though this process can be complex and time-consuming, it ultimately benefits your dog's well-being. Start by training your dog to tolerate short absences, gradually increasing the duration. Change your pre-departure routines and consider consulting your vet about possible medication options.

Preventing Separation Anxiety

The best approach for your dog is to prevent separation anxiety from developing. When you get a new puppy, dedicate time to prevention and training, which will help avoid future stress for you and your pet.

While you may not want to leave a new puppy unsupervised for long periods, it's important to gradually accustom them to being alone, even if only for short intervals. During this time, ensure they associate your departures with positive experiences, such as receiving treats or toys.

Additionally, introduce your puppy to crate training from an early age and make it a comforting experience. This practice not only helps with separation anxiety but also addresses other issues like thunderstorm phobia or anxiety during vet visits.

Dos And Ddon'ts

  • Avoid punishing your pet for misbehavior during your absence, as it only heightens their anxiety.
  • Consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker if you will be away for extended periods.
  • Please don't ignore the signs of separation anxiety; it won't resolve by itself.
  • Consult a professional if your dog's anxiety worsens.


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