Tips for Helping Your Dog with Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is basically a doggy panic attack that happens when your dog is left alone. This can occur even during short times away, such as going out to grab the mail. Or it might happen when you’re gone for longer periods, like going to work or running errands. Keep reading to learn about separation anxiety and what you can do to help your dog!
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Common signs of separation anxiety include:
- Excessive vocalization when their person(s) are out of sight. This includes howling, barking, whining, screaming
- Destruction of objects like toys, furniture, door frame, kennel
- Excessive drooling, also called hypersalivation
- Urinating and/or defecating inside
What caused my dog’s separation anxiety?
Like with people, some dogs are just more anxious than others. There may not be an exact trigger that caused your dog to have separation anxiety. Other dogs may experience a big change in routine that leads to them developing separation anxiety. This could be a change in work schedule, their favorite person leaves for college, going to a new home, etc.
What can I do to help my dog?
Schedule a vet appointment
If your dog is showing symptoms of separation anxiety, be sure to schedule a visit with their vet, as other medical conditions can cause similar symptoms. A thorough physical exam and lab work (blood and urine tests) will help determine if anything else is causing or contributing to your dog’s symptoms.
If other medical causes have been ruled out, then it’s time to start working on reducing your dog’s separation anxiety. This takes a LOT of time and patience and includes training and possibly medications. There are various anxiety-reducing pills, pheromone collars, stress-reducing tight-fitting shirts, certain probiotics, and even some diets that can all work together to help give you and your dog relief.
Speak with a trainer or veterinary behaviorist
Be sure to start working with a good trainer or even a veterinary behaviorist if you’re lucky enough to have one in your area. Veterinary behaviorists are vets that have gone through extensive training and certification specialized in animal behavior.
Don't punish your dog’s behavior
You want to AVOID punishments as this will worsen the situation. Your dog won’t understand why they’re being punished, and this type of negative reinforcement may worsen their stress and fear.
Calming supplements and medications
Some of the oral medications used for separation anxiety can take weeks to take effect, so you may need to have a pet sitter come over, take your dog to work, or take your pup to daycare in the meantime. You may need a combination of medications to achieve the best results. Your vet can advise you which medications or natural supplements are safe to use together if needed.
Use fun distractions
Give your dog high reward treats and food dispensing puzzles and toys to get them focused on something positive rather than stressing when you leave. Your pup will likely be too stressed at the beginning of treatment to focus on these, but don’t give up! You’ll know things are starting to get better when they use these distractions!
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your dog’s separation anxiety or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.