Separation Anxiety in Dogs
By Richard Rowlands
You are your dog’s entire world and probably the most important thing in their life. They love you and your company more than the tastiest of treats or chewiest of chews. So that means a lot! It should come as no surprise then that some dogs will have trouble letting their owners go, literally, and react poorly.
If your dog shows signs like getting anxious when you leave the house, being destructive when you're away, or overexcitability when you return, they may have separation anxiety. Don’t blame yourself or your dog. It’s a common problem and the good news is that it can be treated!
In this post, we'll take a look at the causes and symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs. We'll also share some tips to help you effectively deal with the problem.
What Is Separation Anxiety and What Causes It?
Separation anxiety is when your dog is overly attached to you and becomes severely stressed as you prepare to leave. This often culminates after you’ve gone with excessive and frantic barking, destruction of personal items, and perhaps even having accidents near the entryway to your home.
Some dogs have separation anxiety from an early age because they haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to spend time alone. Then, they panic when it happens. It can also be triggered in previously okay dogs by changes in routine, moving to a new home, or the loss of a family member.
What Are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety can show up in a variety of ways. As we already mentioned, some common symptoms are excessive barking, destructive behaviors, and accidents indoors. There are some others that you may not be picking up on as well.
In some cases, your dog might try to escape and follow you out the door. In addition to appearing restless or anxious, some dogs may become immobile and shake uncontrollably as if frightened. Others still may drool a lot. In some rarer cases, dogs have been known to become extremely quiet and totally withdrawn from their owners.
Keep in mind these patterns of behavior typically start when your dog notices you’re getting ready to leave and progress or worsen after you’re gone. You might not notice or be aware of them all if you usually leave in a hurry. So be extra attentive.
How Can I Treat Separation Anxiety?
The first thing you should always do is talk to your veterinarian to rule out underlying medical issues. If nothing’s going on there, expose your dog to short absences and gradually increase their lengths. This is something best done purposefully as part of their training. Also, don't make a big fuss when you leave or return home. This will just reinforce their issues.
Another way to keep your dog happy and calm in your absence is giving them something to do. A great solution is a puzzle toy stuffed with treats when you leave home. Be sure to choose high quality, healthy treats like those available from HAPPYBOND.
You can also try other methods, such as anti-anxiety clothing, CBD oil, and even certain supplements. As always, consult your vet before giving any new foods or supplements to your pup.
In some cases, the separation anxiety will be so severe that there may be the need for expert intervention. For more extensive training, we recommend trainers that use only positive reinforcement. Never be afraid to ask for references!
To recap our main points from today, separation anxiety may be an issue for your dog if they are exhibiting extreme behaviors like excessive barking or being destructive. This comes out as you’re getting ready to leave and also directly after departing. You can treat separation anxiety through various types of training, with supplements to their diet, and veterinary or professional intervention.
The most important thing, however, is to keep calm yourself and know that with some effort, you and your dog will get through it together.