How to Manage Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioral problems in dogs. It can be frustrating and challenging to manage, but there are some tips you can try that will help your dog feel more secure when left alone! Here are some healthy ways to manage your dog’s separation anxiety.
What is Seperation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety occurs when a clingy dog gets dangerously stressed when left alone. In some cases, it’s a bit of whining and crying when you go out. In other, more serious cases, it’s a severe condition and one of the leading causes why owners give up their dogs.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to change this. First, determine what causes this anxiety. These are some factors that could play a role:
Being left alone for the first time
Change of owners
Moving from a shelter to a new home
Sudden change in the family routine
Death of a family member
A dog who suffers from separation anxiety exhibits a lot of stress when they are alone. They might:
Have indoor “accidents” even though they are housetrained
Howl, bark, or whine excessively
Chew on things, dig holes, scratch at windows and doors
Drool, pant, or salivate more than usual
Pace, often in an obsessive pattern
Treating Minor Separation Anxiety
- Normalize arrivals and departures—speak with your dog in a calm voice when you’re leaving and returning.
- Set a word or action that you will use every time you go out that tells your dog you’ll be back.
- Consider using a calming natural product that reduces anxiety in dogs.
Handling a More Severe Problem
Teach your dog the sit-stay and down-stay commands applying positive reinforcement. This will help them understand that they can remain calm in one room while you go to another room.
Exercise and mental stimulation are essential to reducing anxiety in dogs. Be sure your dog gets adequate exercise before you leave. Your regular walks won’t reduce stress but exploring new places will.
Build a “safe place” to restrict your dog’s destructive reaction while you’re away. A safe place should:
- Restrain the dog loosely (a room with a window, food, and toys)
- Accommodate busy toys for entertainment
- Having dirty laundry nearby can provide a familiar, calming scent cue
Additional Tips for Your Dog to Learn to Be Calm
It can take some time for your dog to forget their fear response every time you leave the house. To facilitate this process, consider the following tips:
- Speak to your veterinarian about alternative treatments to reduce your dog’s overall anxiety.
- If your dog loves the company of other dogs, take him to a trusted doggie daycare facility or kennel.
- Leave your dog with a family member or trustworthy neighbor when you’re away for long periods.
- Take your dog to work with you whenever possible.