Dog Separation Anxiety: Signs, Symptoms & Training
Some dogs are disruptive or destructive when left alone. You might find them urinating, chewing shoes and sofa, or barking and howling often. Although these could be signs that your dog needs house training, these also might be the dog's separation anxiety symptoms.
A dog that has separation anxiety will be anxious and depressed when its guardian prepares to leave the house. Some will prevent you to leave and act like it's been years since they have seen their guardians. Separation anxiety can be frustrating for you and your dog, but there are things you can do to help.
What Is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Separation anxiety is a serious condition dog can experience when separated from people they’re bonded with. It’s not clear why some dogs develop separation anxiety and others don’t, but dogs who have to deal with it can become distressed just by recognizing that you’re getting ready to leave. And once your best buddy is alone, their behavior can be pretty dramatic, ranging from household destruction to self-injury.
Dog's separation anxiety is not the same as boredom and it is the result of legitimate stress. Though it is not easy to recognize the separation anxiety dog's symptoms, you can find out by watching your dog’s behavior closely and be sure that it’s not a case of inadequate training.
Watching your dog's body language closely and making a list of several questions will help you determine the dog's separation anxiety signs. Does your dog understand good manners? Is he potty trained? Do the signs only occur when you are not around? You can record a video of your dog’s behavior while you’re away from home.
Common Dog Separation Anxiety Signs
Barking, howling and whining:
If your dog has separation anxiety, they might loudly bark or howl when left alone. It’s possible you wouldn’t know this is happening unless you have security cameras. Or irritated neighbors.
Chewing and scratching:
If you come home to find random destruction and a dog who’s out of its mind happy to see you, you can be fairly sure it’s separation anxiety. This can result in harm not only to your home and possessions but also to your pup in the form of damaged teeth and injured paws.
Urinating or defecating:
If your dog starts doing their business indoors once you start leaving the house more often, it’s probably caused by separation anxiety.
If while you’re away your dog defecates and then also eats their poop, this too is probably a case of separation anxiety.
If your furry friend tries to get out of their crate or room by attacking points of access such as doors and windows, the behavior can lead to self-injury in addition to household havoc.
Separation anxiety can cause some dogs to repeatedly walk or trot the same route when you’re not home. This is another symptom you might not be aware of unless you have a way to remotely monitor their activity.
Causes of Dogs Separation Anxiety
Being Left Alone at Home
Being left alone at home is one of the most common causes of a dog's separation anxiety. Especially if there are no other family members at home.
Being alone at home is not the only reason. An abrupt change in schedule in terms of when or how long you leave the dog at home can also trigger the symptoms. To remedy this, you can introduce a new puppy or dog to your current dog as a companion so they don't feel alone when you're away.
Change of Environment
Moving to another environment will require them some time to get used to it. This usually occurs after you move to a new residence.
Change/ Loss of Family Members
Once your dog entered your house, he will become part of your family. The sudden absence of one of the family members, due to death or moving away, can be the cause of a dog's separation anxiety. They will feel abandoned which can trigger the development of separation anxiety.
Coming home to destruction is very exhausting. It is also upsetting to see your dogs in such distress. According to the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, the goal of treatment is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. Here are the treatments to prevent a dog's separation anxiety.
Separation Anxiety Training for Dogs
The most important thing in terms of raising a mentally and physically healthy dog is teaching them to be comfortable in the world. The first training to prevent the occurrence of separation anxiety dogs symptoms is desensitization.
Teach your puppy that separation has its rewards. You can start by leaving him for several minutes and gradually lengthen the amount of time you’re gone. You can get some help from dog treats when they’re already showing stress/anxiety symptoms. Giving treats before you leave also can make them look forward to your departure. Make your departure routine less stressful by desensitizing your puppy to the sign you’re about to go out.
A crate is an important dog separation anxiety training tool. Teach him to associate his crate with things they love, such as chew toys and food they love so he will be happy to spend time inside. Remember, the goal is not to crate them all day and every day but to keep him feeling the same and teach him to enjoy being alone.
Exercise can help treat and prevent separation anxiety dogs symptoms occurs. Make sure your dog gets plenty of physical exercises, especially for large, high-energy dogs. Exercise for small dogs dogs is also equally important, even if they do not require the same amount. Do do not neglect your puppy’s mental muscles by training them with puzzle toys and cognitive games.
Discouraging Clingy Behavior
Don’t encourage overly clingy behavior even though you love them so much. Instead of showering them too much attention, try developing independence by teaching them to be on their own in another room, even when you’re at home.
Medication - in case of serious issues
Sometimes, dog separation anxiety training is not enough. If the symptoms are even worse, go see a vet and they will recommend you some medication used to treat depression and anxiety and panic disorders.
Apart from medication, you can also consider buying a natural supplement. But, please be sure to consult with your vet before giving your dog any vitamins and supplements. To help counter the effects of separation anxiety, start prepping your pooch by easing them into your new schedule.
6 Ways to Ease Your Dog into a New Routine
Go Part-time if Possible
You’ve been so lucky to have all this extra bonding time with your little pal. If you have the option to keep working from home a few days a week, this flexibility will help your dog get used to you being away more often.
Try Some Trial Runs
Leading up to your new work schedule, leave the house each day to run errands or take a walk, and slowly increase the time you’re gone. If you wear certain clothes for work or carry specific items like a lunch box or laptop bag, bring them along. Give your dog a few tasty treats just before you leave so they associate a positive feeling with your departure. A food puzzle or food-dispensing toy can also keep them entertained for a while.
Normalize Other Daily Moments
Many of us tossed our “normal” schedules out the window in favor of more relaxed mornings or nontraditional working hours. If your dog’s schedule shifted along with yours during the past year, start easing them back so the change isn’t a shock when you return to work. And while it seems harsh, try not to engage in too much playtime during your soon-to-be workday hours. (OK, you can sneak in a few ear scratches.)
Make Your Home Feel Familiar
Think about what a given work-at-home day has been like for your dog. If you always had music or the television on, your pooch may benefit from the familiar “white noise.” If you had your workspace organized a certain way or had curtains open on specific windows, set it all the same way before you go. Overall, your goal is to temporarily mirror the everyday experience your dog is familiar with.
Restart Your Dog's Social Life
If going back to work means doggie daycare or a dog walker for your pup, ease them into it like everything else. Remember: Their social interaction was probably as limited as yours in 2021, so gently reintroduce them to other people and dogs. Before you go back, set up a few playdates with dogs of friends or family, and schedule some time at a daycare and with your walker — don’t wait until you head to work and surprise your dog with new faces and places.
Reinforce Your Relationship
Our best buddies are remarkably resilient. If you notice mild separation anxiety dogs symptoms of separation anxiety in your dog, don’t worry — often they can adjust quickly with your help. Spend as much extra time as you can sharing bonding moments with your four-legged friend — bring on the couch cuddles and fetch marathons! In particular, mealtime is a great opportunity to strengthen positive associations, especially when you’re indulging them with something as delicious as CESAR® Recipe.
Getting Professional Help For Your Dog's Separation Anxiety
Should your dog show signs of unusual behavior as your schedule changes, separation anxiety is the likely culprit. Your goal is to help your pal get used to being alone without experiencing fear or anxiety — but if your efforts don’t succeed, you can get outside help for your furry friend in terms of curing dog separation anxiety quickly.
Talk to your vet. They can definitively rule out any medical issues and may be able to recommend a trainer or behaviorist to help ease your dog’s anxiety. If your dog has severe separation anxiety or doesn’t respond well to training, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication, too.
We’ve all faced unique challenges in the last year or so, but one silver lining is all the quality time we’ve been able to share with our four-legged co-workers. Now that our work lives begin switching back closer to what they were before, let’s be extra aware of how our routine changes affect our dogs and take every step possible to ease any anxiety they feel.
Can you fix a dog's separation anxiety?
Yes, it is a treatable condition. You can do some training and cure the condition with an anti-anxiety medication. Please consult with your vet before giving your furry friend any medication.
How long does separation anxiety last in dogs?
Usually, it takes several weeks to months for dogs to get over separation anxiety. It all depends on their condition, training, or the medication the vet has prescribed.
Will a 2nd dog help with separation anxiety?
Adding another dog to the household may help your first dog get over the separation issue. With being accompanied by another dog at home, your dog can cope with separation anxiety.
Does ignoring your dog help with separation anxiety?
Long good-byes and greetings will not help your dog to cope with separation anxiety issue. It is recommended to keep them calm and ignore them for 15 minutes before you leave and after you get home.