Overcoming Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety in pets was a concept not always understood or accepted in veterinarian or dog training circles. Now, most animal professionals recognize the very real anxiety our dogs can experience when they are apart from us.

Separation anxiety is characterized by anxiety or stress experienced by your dog when left alone. Your dog may act out in destructive behavior, excessive barking, howling, and house soiling. You may try to prevent the destructive behavior or house soiling by crating your dog, but you may find that he won’t let you. He may constantly attempt to break free, disregarding any injuries he may cause to himself.

Young mammals often experience some form of separation anxiety when separated from their mothers or siblings, so do not be surprised if this happens to your dog. However, we realize that coming home to a torn-up sofa and poop all over the house is not an ideal situation for pet owners. Luckily, we have some tips on how to manage separation anxiety in your dog.

Don’t Make it So Obvious You’re Leaving Your Dog Alone

There are certain actions you do, like reaching for your keys or putting on your coat, that signal to your dog that you are about to leave the house and triggers his separation anxiety. To avoid this, try putting on your coat about 15 minutes before you’re ready to leave the house. Or leave the house out the back door when your dog is not looking (perhaps if he is distracted by a toy you just gave him).

We understand you also hate to leave your dog alone, but try not to get overly emotional when saying goodbye or overly excited when you return home. Playing down hellos and goodbyes will lessen your dog’s fears of your absence.

Train Your Dog to be Okay Being Alone While You’re in the House

If your dog learns to do his own thing even while you’re still inside the house, it will be easier for him to keep himself entertained when you leave for work. In small 5-10 second intervals, working your way up to 20-30 minutes over time, let your dog stay in a room by himself. This may take some weeks, but training your dog to be comfortable alone is a great way to prevent separation anxiety.

Leave Your Dog Plenty of Toys and Distractions

Entertaining toys, food puzzles, and even dirty laundry that has your scent will keep your dog from getting too bored while you’re away. Your dog can entertain himself for hours with his favorite toys and the scent from your dirty laundry will keep him from missing you too much, and may comfort him in knowing you will return.

 

We want your dog saved from unnecessary heartache just as much as you. Hopefully you can utilize these tips to keep your pooch calm and happy.