Find out how to help your dog feel calm and secure when you are away or at night. Plus, discover some home remedies and products that can ease your dog’s anxiety.
Dogs are loyal and loving companions, but sometimes they can develop problems affecting their well-being and relationship with their owners. Separation anxiety is a common condition that causes dogs to feel stressed and anxious when left alone or separated from their favorite person. It can result in various behavioral issues, such as crying, barking, chewing, urinating, or escaping. This article will explore the causes, symptoms, and solutions for separation anxiety in dogs.
What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Experts do not fully understand separation anxiety, but some factors may contribute to its development. Some of these factors are:
Some breeds or individuals may be more prone to anxiety than others due to their temperament or personality.
Dogs that have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, or loss of a loved one may develop separation anxiety due to their fear of being alone or losing their attachment figure.
Lack of socialization
Dogs not exposed to different people, animals, places, or situations may become fearful or insecure when faced with unfamiliar circumstances.
Dogs that have moved to a new home, changed owners, or experienced a change in their routine or schedule may become anxious due to the loss of predictability and stability.
Separation from their owner
Dogs that are overly attached or dependent on their owner may become distressed when they are not near them. This can happen when the owner leaves the house, goes to another room, or sleeps in a different bed.
What Are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Separation anxiety can manifest in different ways depending on the dog's personality and the severity of the condition. Some of the common signs of separation anxiety are:
Crying or howling
This is a way for dogs to express their distress and call for attention or help. They may cry or howl when left alone, hear loud noises, or encounter unfamiliar people or animals.
It is normal for dogs to cool down and regulate their body temperature. However, excessive or rapid panting can indicate the dog is stressed, nervous, or fearful.
Drooling is another normal behavior for dogs, especially when hungry, thirsty, or excited. However, excessive or abnormal drooling can also be a sign of anxiety, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as licking, yawning, or shaking.
Inability to "settle down"
Anxious Dogs may have difficulty relaxing and finding a comfortable resting spot. They may pace around, jump on furniture, scratch doors or windows, or try to escape.
Urinating or defecating
Anxious Dogs may lose control of their bladder or bowel movements and have accidents in the house. This can happen when they are left alone, face a new situation, or experience a sudden change in their routine.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs to explore their environment, relieve boredom, or soothe their gums. However, excessive or destructive chewing can also indicate anxiety, especially if the dog chews on inappropriate objects such as furniture, shoes, or wires.
How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety?
Suppose you notice any of these signs in your dog. In that case, you should consult a professional dog trainer to determine the cause and severity of your dog's anxiety and find the best treatment options. Some of the possible treatments include:
Behavior modification involves teaching your dog new skills and habits to cope with their anxiety triggers and reduce their negative reactions. For example, you can train your dog to associate being alone with positive rewards, such as toys or treats.
Environmental enrichment involves providing your dog with enough physical and mental stimulation. For example, you can give your dog regular exercise, play games with them, provide them with interactive toys 1, or enroll them in a dog daycare 2.
Medication: This involves giving your dog prescribed drugs to help them calm down and reduce their anxiety symptoms. However, medication should only be used as a last resort and under the guidance of your veterinarian.
Home Remedies for Separation Anxiety in Dogs
In addition to the above treatments, there are some home remedies that you can try to help your dog with separation anxiety. Some of these remedies are:
Some natural products can help your dog relax and ease anxiety. These include CBD products 3, pheromones 4, chamomile 5, lavender 6, and valerian 7. However, before giving any supplement to your dog, consult your vet for the right dosage and safety.
Music or white noise
Some dogs may benefit from listening to soothing sounds that can mask the noises that trigger their anxiety. You can play classical music, dog calming music 8, or white noise 9 for your dog when you leave them alone or at night.
Clothing or blankets
Some dogs may feel more secure and comfortable with something that smells like their owner or another familiar dog. You can leave some recently worn clothes or blankets for your dog to snuggle with when you are away.
Crate or bed
Some dogs may prefer a safe and cozy place to retreat when anxious. You can provide your dog with a crate 10 or a bed 11 that is comfortable, spacious, and well-ventilated. Ensure to introduce the crate or bed gradually and positively, and never use it as a punishment.
Dog Separation Anxiety When One Person Leaves
Some dogs may develop separation anxiety when one specific person leaves, even if there are other people or animals in the house. This can happen when the dog is more attached or dependent on that person or when that person is the dog's primary caregiver. To help a dog with separation anxiety when one person leaves, you can try the following tips:
Make the departure less noticeable: You can avoid making a big fuss when you leave or come back, as this can make your dog more anxious. Instead, act calmly and casually, and ignore your dog for a few minutes before and after you leave.
Vary your routine: You can try to change your routine and cues that signal your departure, such as putting on your shoes, grabbing your keys, or saying goodbye. This can make your departure less predictable and less stressful for your dog.
Involve other people: You can involve others in your dog's care and activities, such as feeding, walking, playing, or grooming. This can help your dog bond with others and reduce their dependence on you.
Leave something behind: You can try to leave something that reminds your dog of you, such as a piece of clothing, a toy, or a treat. This can help your dog feel more connected to you and less lonely.
How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety When I Leave
Some dogs may have separation anxiety when their owner leaves the house, regardless of who else is present. This can happen when the dog has not learned to be independent and confident on their own or when they have experienced a traumatic event related to being alone. To help a dog with separation anxiety when I leave, you can try the following tips:
Start small: You can gradually accustom your dog to being alone by leaving them for short periods and increasing the duration as they become more comfortable. Start with a few seconds or minutes and work up to hours. Always reward your dog for staying calm and quiet when you leave and return.
Use a safe place: You can use a safe place where your dog feels comfortable and secure when you leave them alone. This can be a crate, a bed, a room, or an area that is fenced off. Ensure the place has enough ventilation, light, water, toys, and bedding for your dog.
You can provide distractions for your dog that can keep them busy and entertained when you leave them alone. These can be puzzle toys 1; chew toys 12, bones 13, or food dispensers 14 that stimulate their mind and appetite. Avoid leaving anything dangerous or harmful for your dog, such as wires, cords, plants, or medications.
Seek professional help: If your dog's separation anxiety is severe or does not improve with these tips, you may need professional help from a veterinarian or a dog trainer. They can assess your dog's condition and provide more specific advice and treatment options.
Dog Has Separation Anxiety from Other Dog
Some dogs may have separation anxiety from another dog they are bonded with. This can happen when the dogs are littermates, siblings, friends, or partners that have spent much time together and rely on each other for comfort and security. To help a dog with separation anxiety from another dog, you can try the following tips:
Avoid separating them: If possible, avoid separating the dogs that are bonded with each other, especially for long periods or in stressful situations. If you have to separate them for some reason, such as taking one to the vet or grooming salon, do it gradually and positively.
Provide individual attention: While keeping the dogs together as much as possible is important, providing them with individual attention and care is also important. This can help them develop their identity and confidence and reduce their dependence on each other. You can spend time with each dog separately daily, doing activities such as training.
Introduce new friends: You can introduce new friends to your dogs that can provide them with socialization and companionship. This can be other dogs, cats, or people that are friendly and compatible with your dogs. Make sure to introduce them slowly and carefully and supervise their interactions until they are comfortable with each other.
Seek professional help: If your dog's separation anxiety from another dog is severe or does not improve with these tips, you may need to seek professional help from a veterinarian or a dog trainer. They can assess your dog's condition and provide more specific advice and treatment options.
How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety at Night
Some dogs may have separation anxiety at night when separated from their owner or another dog they sleep with. This can happen when the dog has not learned to sleep alone or when they fear the dark or being alone. To help a dog with separation anxiety at night, you can try the following tips:
Establish a routine: You can establish a consistent and relaxing routine for your dog before bedtime. This can include feeding them, taking them out for a walk, playing with them, brushing them, or giving them a massage. This can help your dog calm down and prepare for sleep.
Use a safe place: You can use a safe place where your dog feels comfortable and secure at night. This can be a crate, bed, room, or area close to you but not in your bed. Ensure the place has enough ventilation, light, water, toys, and bedding for your dog.
Provide comfort: You can comfort your dog to help them feel less anxious at night. This can include leaving a night light on, playing soothing music or white noise, leaving clothes or blankets that smell like you or another dog, or giving them a stuffed animal they can cuddle with.
Seek professional help: If your dog's separation anxiety at night is severe or does not improve with these tips, you may need to seek professional help from a veterinarian or a dog trainer. They can assess your dog's condition and provide more specific advice and treatment options.
Separation anxiety is a common and challenging problem that affects many dogs and their owners. It can cause various behavioral issues that can harm the well-being and happiness of both parties. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, separation anxiety in dogs can be managed and overcome. If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for help.