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How to Help a Dog With Separation Anxiety

Published: October 2020 | Updated: January 2023

Separation anxiety can be a difficult condition to live with. It's not just the dog's problem; it affects the whole family. Dogs with separation anxiety are often destructive, bark excessively and may even urinate or defecate in the house. 

The good news is that there are ways to help dogs cope with this condition.

Identifying Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety is a common problem for dogs, especially in the case of a new dog or puppy. The first step in dealing with separation anxiety is to identify and address any underlying issues that might be causing it.

If your dog has been spayed or neutered, this may be one of the contributors to separation anxiety. It can take up to six months after surgery for a dog to recover from the surgery itself and for hormonal changes to stabilize. If your dog is older and has never been spayed or neutered before, they may develop separation anxiety due to hormonal changes associated with aging.

If your dog has recently moved into a new home, they may have become anxious about being away from their old home or yard. Dogs can also develop separation anxiety if they are left alone many hours each day without adequate exercise, attention and stimulation.

Separation anxiety is often mistaken for housebreaking problems because dogs who have this issue will often urinate or defecate when left alone in the house. It's important to understand that this is not a sign of disobedience or bad behavior. It’s a condition that requires time, patience, and consistency. 

Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

If you are unsure whether or not your dog has separation anxiety, read this list and see if any of these behaviors sound familiar:

  • Eliminating in the house when you leave
  • Chewing and destroying objects in the home
  • Shaking/Trembling
  • Constant yawning
  • Hiding
  • Excessive digging, licking or chewing
  • Escaping the yard or their kennel
  • Excessive barking (especially when left alone)
  • Pacing
  • Panting (even when it is not hot outside)
  • Aggression
  • Destructive behaviors like digging at doors and walls

If your dog has any or all of the above signs, there’s a good chance they’re dealing with separation anxiety. 

How to Help a Dog With Anxiety

If your dog has separation anxiety, you know how stressful it can be for both of you. If you have to leave for work, for example, your dog may whine and bark until you come back home. And if you have a baby or toddler, he may try to climb into his crib when he hears crying, as though to comfort the child.

Separation anxiety can also be dangerous for your pet. He may chew on furniture or carpeting in an effort to escape from wherever he's been left alone. And if he feels trapped and panics, he could hurt himself trying to get out of a room or area.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help your dog overcome separation anxiety so that you can relax when you're apart. Here are some tips:

  1. The first step toward easing your dog's separation anxiety is identifying what might be causing their distress. If you've recently adopted your dog or brought home another pet, consider whether they might be feeling threatened by the new addition to your household. If this is the case, you'll need to work with both dogs separately until they get used to one another again.

  2. Acknowledge your dog's feelings. Your presence is comforting; when you leave, your dog feels abandoned and helpless. He may feel like he has lost his pack leader — which in turn makes him feel anxious and insecure.

  3. Build your dog’s independence by leaving the house every day in some way. You could go for a solo walk if you can’t go to work, go sit in your car, run errands. Whatever you can do is perfect! The point here is to desensitize your dog to you not being at home 24/7. 

  4. Be consistent with training. This is all about building a predictable home environment that is the least confusing possible! For example, if you do not normally allow your dog on the couch, do not allow them up sometimes because you are at home all day feeling bored. Try to get rid of the “sometimes this behavior is ok” model. 

  5. Create a schedule. This is tricky because while you want your dog to be flexible, there are benefits to creating routines. For example, feed your dog at the same time each day, take them on a walk around the same time. If your dog is struggling with anxiety, certain routines could be beneficial. 

  6. Give them a safe place to go during the day. Dogs that have separation anxiety need a place where they feel safe during the day when you're gone. This could be their bed or maybe a room that has nothing breakable in it. Make sure you do not leave any items within reach of your dog; even small items can be dangerous if swallowed by an anxious dog who is looking for something to chew on for comfort.

  7. Crate train your dog. A crate can be a great way to help manage the stress that comes with being alone. It gives them a safe place to go when they're feeling anxious and provides them a place where they feel comfortable for naps and quiet time. 

  8. Include your dog in daily activities and routines. Exercise is an important part of helping a dog deal with separation anxiety. When you take your dog for walks or play fetch, you're giving them an opportunity to burn off some energy before being left alone. This will help prevent destructive behavior such as chewing on furniture or other items in the house that may trigger separation anxiety issues later on.

In severe cases, it's best to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist who can help you work through these issues with your dog. 

Natural Remedies for Dog Anxiety

Besides the tips listed above, a very successful completely natural dog separation anxiety remedy is using CBD oil

CBD is effective because it is able to interact with the body’s inherent endocannabinoid system to naturally ease anxiety and bring the body back to homeostasis. CBD works as a dog anti anxiety supplement because it is able to impact how the body uses serotonin, also known as the “feel good hormone.”  

Because CBD products have flooded the market, make sure that you do your homework and choose a high quality dog supplement that has been researched and tested for purity standards. 

Rocket Animal’s Canine Cush fits the bill and includes other incredible ingredients to support your dog’s joint health at the same time! You can check it out and order it today as part of your dog’s anxiety treatment right here

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