Owning a dog means you’ll have to deal with lots of behavioral issues, and separation anxiety is one of them. But what is separation anxiety in dogs to begin with?
What Is Separation Anxiety?
To put it simply, dog separation anxiety is when your dog becomes super-stressed when left alone. Your dog becomes anxious and shows distress as you leave or prepare to leave. This usually happens when your dog is overly attached or dependent on you.
Dog separation anxiety is a difficult situation to deal with for both the dog and you. On one side, the dog feels trapped and frustrated because of your absence. On the other side, you can feel responsible for your dog’s suffering.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the signs of dog separation anxiety and how you can ease your dog’s separation anxiety.
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Signs and Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Below are the most common signs of dog separation anxiety. Go through them, and see if your dog presents any of these signs.
- Destroying environment
- Barking or howling
- Urination or defecation
One indicator of dog separation anxiety would be constant pacing. Dogs will walk in specific patterns in an attempt to calm their nerves. This may be a hard symptom to identify, as they will only exhibit this when you are gone.
This symptom will result in your dog taking extreme measures to try to get out of their environment. They might attempt to bite through doors and windows, which can result in self-injury and a damaged environment.
This signal is a little more evident, as you can tell if your dog has any injuries or if there are any new damages to your interior.
One of the most profound signs of separation anxiety is destruction. Dogs will chew through furniture, claw at doors and windows, and even try to dig holes as a way to cope with their anxiety.
If you return home only to see the interior of your home ravaged, do not punish your dog. Instead, try to give them comfort as they have little control over their anxiety.
Barking or Howling
Dogs who have separation anxiety will demonstrate barking or howling every time you leave them alone.
This can be hard to identify on your own as they will not do it in your presence. However, it would be a good idea to be extra attentive to any noise when you are getting home if you suspect that your dog has separation anxiety.
Urination and Defecation
This sign can be a little tricky to distinguish, especially if you have a puppy that is not potty trained.
Dogs with separation anxiety may urinate or defecate but would never do it in your presence. Thus, if your dog is exhibiting this sign around you, it probably is not an indicator of this disorder.
This symptom is a little less common than the others. Nonetheless, it is still a possibility. Coprophagia happens when a dog eats his own poop or other dogs’ poop. This will not make your dog sick, but it is still not a good practice they should be participating in.
Dog Breeds With Separation Anxiety
As mentioned previously, there are specific dog breeds that are most likely to suffer with separation anxiety. If you have one of these breeds, it may be a good idea to pay extra attention to their behavior when it comes to you leaving them alone.
- German Shepherd
- Border Collie
- Labrador Retriever
- Australian Shepard
- English Cocker Spaniel
- Toy Poodle
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Bichon Frise
- German Shorthaired Pointer
How to Help Your Dog With Separation Anxiety
Fortunately, there are a plethora of different ways that you can use to deal with separation anxiety in dogs. Here are five tips to help ease separation anxiety:
Confine Your Dog to a Large Space
Instead of putting your dog in a crate, or letting them roam around where they have the potential to be destructive, put them in a room that is filled with toys for them to distract themselves with.
Get a Dog-Sitter
A short-term fix would be to get a dog-sitter, so your dog is not completely alone when you have to be away. This would be especially ideal if you usually work long hours, or you are just not home very often.
Take Your Dog to Daycare
This is similar to the last suggestion; however, your dog will not only be surrounded by a guardian to look over them, but they will have other dogs to play with as well.
Teach Your Dog That It’s OK to Be Alone
It’s important to teach your dog that it’s OK to be alone. That way, you won’t have to deal with separation anxiety as he gets older
Start by gradually leaving your dog alone. Spend 10 minutes away from your dog, then extend it to 20 minutes. When your dog presents no symptoms of distress, increase it to an hour.
Continue to increase the time you spend away until you can leave your dog for several hours without your dog suffering from separation anxiety.
Medication and Natural Supplements
If the problem is severe enough, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about investing in calming treats and supplements that will be able to help your dog cope while you are gone. Some veterinarian-approved treats include:
Zesty Paws Calming Bites: These Zesty Calming Bites are soft to chew and contain ingredients like Hemp, Chamomile, and L-theanine, which are great for making your dog calm and relaxed.
NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Aid: The NaturVet Calming Moments are also soft to chew. Although, it contains Ginger and Melatonin, which works just as great. This is an ideal product if you want to exclude the use of Hemp.
PetHonesty Calming Hemp Chews: The PetHonesty Chews are good for not only calming anxiety but motion sickness as well. This treat includes Chamomile, Passion Flower, L-tryptophan, and Hemp Oil.
VetriScience Composure Calming Treats: Lastly is the VetriScience Calming Treats that focuses on flavor and relaxation more than anything. It includes L-theanine and Thiamine, which work together to aid in relaxation.
Each of these treats contains specific herbs that are beneficial to combat anxiety. This is a better alternative if you do not want to resort to putting your dog on any medication.
Wrap-Up: Helping Your Dog With Separation Anxiety
Dealing with a dog with separation anxiety can be difficult and worrisome. Therefore, it can be difficult to treat your dog’s separation anxiety effectively.
As you learned in this guide, there are a few actionable tips that can make a big difference in easing your dog’s separation anxiety.
- Consider drug therapy to reduce your dog’s overall anxiety.
- When you are away, let a friend, family member, or neighbor watch your dog for you.
- If your dog enjoys being with other dogs, it would be a good idea to take him to a well-run kennel or doggie daycare facility.
- If possible, bring your dog to work.
Do you have any tips about getting your dog through separation anxiety? Share them with us in the comment section below.