Dogs are social animals and love spending time with their families. When they are left alone, they can become anxious and may exhibit signs of separation anxiety. This condition is very common in dogs and can be treated with a combination of behavior modification techniques and medication. In this blog post, we will discuss what dog separation anxiety is, the symptoms to look for, and tips to help your dog cope when you’re not home.
What is Dog Separation Anxiety?
Dog separation anxiety is a condition in which a dog becomes anxious and stressed when left alone. This can happen when the dog is left home alone, or even when they are away from their owner in a different room. Dogs with separation anxiety may bark excessively, destroy furniture, have accidents indoors, pace back and forth, or become withdrawn and depressed.
There are many factors that can contribute to separation anxiety in dogs. It may be caused by changes in routine (such as a new baby or pet in the house), moving to a new home, or the death of a family member or another pet. Separation anxiety can also be triggered by something as simple as going on vacation or having guests over for an extended period of time.
Dogs with separation anxiety need lots of love, patience, and understanding. With the help of their owners, they can learn to cope with their condition and live happy healthy lives.
Symptoms of Dog Separation Anxiety
The most common symptom of dog separation anxiety is excessive barking or howling when left alone. Other symptoms may include:
- Destroying furniture or other items in the house
- Having accidents indoors (even if they are house trained)
- Pacing back and forth or running in circles
- Panting excessively or drooling
- Trying to escape from the house or yard
- Becoming withdrawn or depressed when left alone
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to rule out any other medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms and help you create a treatment plan for your dog.
Tips to Help Your Dog Cope with Separation Anxiety
There are a number of things you can do to help your dog cope with separation anxiety. With patience and consistency, most dogs can learn to be comfortable when their owners are away from home.
Create a safe space for your dog:
This may be a crate or a specific room in the house where your dog can go to relax. Make sure the space is comfortable and has all of their favorite toys, beds, and chew toys.
Establish a routine
Dogs thrive on routine. Try to stick to the same departure and return times each day. This will help your dog know when to expect you and make them feel more secure.
Keep Exits & Arrivals Low Key
When you leave or come home, do so without fanfare. This means no long goodbyes or big welcomes. Ignore your dog for the first few minutes after you arrive home, then calmly pet them and give them a treat.
Before You Leave, Exercise Your Dog
Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog! Dogs with separation anxiety often have lots of energy that they don’t know how to expend when left alone. A daily walk or run will help burn off some of that energy and make them more relaxed in your absence.
Provide Your Dog with Mental Stimulation
Boredom is often a trigger for separation anxiety. Try giving your dog interactive toys that will keep their mind occupied while you’re gone. Kongs filled with treats or puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog’s brain busy.
Room with a View Outside
Dogs love to watch the world go by. If possible, set up your dog’s safe space in a room with a window where they can see outside. This will give them something to do while you’re gone and help them feel less anxious.
Get Them a Buddy
If you’re gone all day, consider getting your dog a canine companion. A second dog can provide companionship and help reduce separation anxiety. Be sure to introduce the dogs slowly and in a neutral location to make sure they get along. Check out our article with tips and things to consider before getting a second dog.
Say Goodbye to Your Dog Long Before You Leave
Don’t wait until you’re about to walk out the door to say goodbye to your dog. This will just make them more anxious. Give them a few minutes of your time before you leave so they know that you’re going to be gone for a while.
Leave Them with Something That Smells Like You
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and leaving them with a piece of clothing that smells like you can help ease their anxiety. They’ll feel comforted by your scent when you’re not there.
Practice with Your Dog by Only Leaving for a Few Minutes
Start with short absences so your dog can get used to being away from you. gradually increase the amount of time you’re gone until they are comfortable with being left alone for longer periods of time.
Try Music, TV, or a Movie
Background noise can help drown out any external triggers that may cause your dog to start barking or howling. Try playing soft music, turning on the television, or putting a movie on for your dog while you’re gone.
Send Them to Doggie Daycare or Boarding
If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, consider sending your dog to doggie daycare or boarding. This way they’ll have plenty of people to interact with and won’t be left alone for long periods of time.
With some patience and effort, most dogs with separation anxiety can learn to cope with their condition. If you think your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about treatment options. With the help of their owners, dogs with separation anxiety can live happy and healthy lives!