How To Deal With Dog Separation Anxiety?

 Do you feel like your dog hates you or just can’t stand being away from you? If so, your dog may experience separation anxiety. This is a very common problem for pet parents and their dogs. Dog separation anxiety is something that many dog owners struggle with. Even the most confident and sociable of dogs can become anxious when left alone. According to the American Humane Society, about 25% of dogs will suffer from some type of anxiety when left alone.

How To Deal With Dog Separation Anxiety?
How To Deal With Dog Separation Anxiety?

 Dog separation anxiety is a natural response stemming from domestication, that's why It isn’t just important to monitor your dog’s behavior when you leave; it’s also crucial to ensure they are comfortable while staying at home alone. To your dog, however, it feels like abandonment and they panic. That's why many dogs show signs of stress or anxiety, including whining, pacing, scratching at doors or windows, panting or excess chewing.  If you see any of these signs from your pup after coming home from work or before leaving for the day, Do not worry; this article has tips on how to manage separation anxiety and make life easier for both of you. So read on to learn more about dog separation anxiety and How to recognize signs of dog separation anxiety.

This is an informative article. Nodisk One is not permitted to make a diagnosis or recommend any form of veterinary care. If your pet is in pain or ill, we recommend that you take him to the vet.

What is Dog Separation Anxiety?

 The clinical term "separation anxiety" is used to describe a range of behavioral problems where the dog is "left behind" by the owner. It can appear in a variety of ways and at various intensities. Dogs who are affected may exhibit their distress by:

What is Dog Separation Anxiety?
What is Dog Separation Anxiety?

  • Digging and chewing that causes damage, frequently at windows, doors, and other "exit points".
  • Defecation and urination.
  • Vocalization that is constant.

 But unless "evidence" is left behind, owners might not even be aware that their animals are in trouble. Therefore, it's crucial to understand what dogs do when they're left alone. According to estimates, 13 to 18% of dogs display symptoms of the condition, and 20 to 40% of dogs who are referred to behavioral specialists have it diagnosed. It's also likely that more dogs will exhibit some form of separation distress over the duration of their lives.

 According to Alexandra Bassett, lead trainer and behavior specialist at Dog Savvy Los Angeles, canine separation anxiety is a stress reaction stemming from a dog or puppy's instinct to "stay with the pack." Canine separation anxiety is a condition that is frequently brought on when a dog is unable to see its owners. Despite the fact that the dog or puppy is completely safe at home, Bassett claims that the frustration and distress that results "activates a feeling of being lost or trapped."

 However, the anxious dog will act as if he is terrified to be in the house alone. Separation anxiety symptoms can differ depending on the age of the dog. Applied animal behaviorist and zoologist Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., is regarded as an authority on SA. Although we can't know for sure what's on a dog's mind, she claims in her book I'll Be Home Soon that SA can be compared to a panic attack even though we can't know what's on a dog's mind.

 The owner of Well Done Charlie Dog Training in Washington, DC, and a certified separation anxiety trainer, Toni Clarke, adds that a dog's symptoms are comparable to those of panic disorders that affect people, such as a fear of heights, flying, or snakes and spiders. Your dog simply fears being alone, which is the case for them. The behavior pet owners are observing is unintentional, so they should understand this. The only reason your dog is acting this way is because he's terrified, not out of spite or for any other reason, the trainer claims.

 Separation anxiety is divided into two categories, according to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist, author, and founder of the Center for Canine Behavior Studies. Dogs who are overly attached to one person or to people in general and react negatively when that person is absent are considered to have an attachment disorder. The second type is merely a fear of being by oneself. They don't want to be alone at all, no matter where they are, he says, "sometimes it feels almost claustrophobic."

Separation anxiety causes

Although there isn't enough evidence to say with certainty why dogs get separation anxiety, there are a few possible causes. As an illustration, dogs that were adopted from animal shelters are more likely to have behavioral problems than dogs that were raised by the same family since they were puppies. Dog separation anxiety can be brought on by a number of circumstances, including:

Separation anxiety causes
Separation anxiety causes

- Change of ownership: Some dogs, especially those that have been rescued or adopted from previous owners, may be predisposed to showing separation anxiety. This might be a sign that separation anxiety is caused by the loss of an owner.

- Change in schedule: A dog may experience separation anxiety if their schedule is suddenly changed. For instance, if your dog is used to to spending the entire day with you and you suddenly start to leave them alone for long stretches of time, that can cause anxiety.

- Change in the dog's environment or physical location: If the dog has recently moved with its owner or family, separation anxiety may develop.

- Traumatic event: Dogs may develop separation anxiety if a traumatic event—such as a robbery—took place while the owner was away.

- Unexpected absence of owner: A dog may become anxious if left alone if an owner leaves suddenly due to a divorce or a death in the family.

- Genetics: Your dog may be predisposed to anxiety due to genetics. In fact, when exposed to triggers like excessive or loud noise, some breeds of dogs, including the Lagotto Romagnolo, Wheaten Terrier, and mixed breed dogs, are known to become especially anxious.

- Prenatal factors: Stress during pregnancy can affect a puppy's development and may lead to anxiety later in life.

- Stressors associated with socialization: Just like people, pets can struggle with social anxiety. The key to preventing canine anxiety is proper socialization.

 Dog separation anxiety is frequently brought on by a variety of external factors rather than having a single underlying cause. Apart from the reasons already mentioned, boredom, loneliness, and aging can also be factors in separation anxiety. Regardless of the precise reason for your dog's separation, it's more crucial to identify a treatment plan so that they can live happier and healthier lives.

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

 The first step in treating your dog's separation anxiety is being able to recognize the warning signs and symptoms. It's crucial to know what to look for because there are many different ways that dog separation anxiety can appear. When their owners are about to leave, some dogs exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety. Whether the owner picks up their car keys or puts on their shoes, a dog can easily detect signs that they are about to leave. 

 When faced with these situations, a dog may start acting out in an effort to keep their owner from leaving. Then, When the owner returns home, the dog displays excessive excitement as if it has been a long time since they have seen them. Your dog may have separation anxiety if you've ever experienced the aforementioned situation with them. Other significant warning signs that your dog may be anxious include the following:

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs
Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

- Drooling and excessive panting: A dog with separation anxiety may drool and excessively pant due to the stress of being left alone.

- Frequent pacing: Some dogs with separation anxiety will pace frequently, either back and forth in straight lines or in circles.

- Escape attempts: A dog who is experiencing separation anxiety will make attempts to leave the area where they are left alone. They might try to chew, dig, or gnaw their way through windows or doors, which can result in self-harm.

- Excessive howling or barking: A dog experiencing separation anxiety will howl, bark, and whine in an effort to get away.

- Having accidents in the house despite being potty trained (being trained to use the toilet): A dog who suffers from separation anxiety will urinate or defecate inside the house when left alone.

- Destructive behaviors, such as chewing, digging, and scratching: Some dogs with separation anxiety will chew on door frames, window sills, doorways, and other household items.

 The fact that a dog with separation anxiety will only display these symptoms when left alone is important to keep in mind. When your dog exhibits any of the aforementioned behaviors while you are around, it might be a sign of something else. If you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms excessively while you're around, talk to your veterinarian right away. Some of these symptoms can be brought on by specific medical conditions and medications.

 For instance, when they are excited or are being touched physically, some dogs urinate. This is simply the dog's response to what is going on around them and not a sign of separation anxiety. If your dog wasn't correctly potty trained and doesn't know what to do when you're not home, they may also urinate.  Additionally, destructive behavior may simply be a sign that your dog is young and still prone to juvenile tendencies. These actions also take place when your dog is bored, which is why it's crucial to provide your dog with the right kind of mental stimulation. A dog's excessive barking or howling may simply be a reaction to fear rather than being anxious.

Which dogs are at risk for separation anxiety?

 If you've adopted a dog from a shelter, you may have wondered what it went through before coming to live with you. You might wonder how your dog was treated when they were a puppy or young adult if they exhibit behaviors like crying uncontrollably in response to loud noises or avoiding objects thrown in the air, such as balls or balloons. 

 Dr. Venkat affirms that dogs from shelters or other rescue organizations are not more susceptible to separation anxiety than other dogs, despite the fact that it is impossible to get these answers. "This is due to the fact that genetic predispositions, such as the breed of dog you own, are linked to separation anxiety," she explains to Pawp. "Any dog can develop separation anxiety, because dogs could easily forge friendships with their owners. Huskies and Border Collies, for example, may be more prone to it."

Dog Separation Anxiety
Dog Separation Anxiety

 It goes without saying that your dog may experience separation anxiety even if they do not belong to a breed that is particularly prone to it. Simply put, it indicates that they have a tendency. Don't feel guilty as a pet parent if your dog exhibits separation anxiety because it's actually a fairly common problem. 

 Instead, simply gain more knowledge about your pet's condition and develop a more thorough understanding of how you can assist them in overcoming their anxiety and distress. But if you have a young puppy, there are some things you can do to try to avoid separation anxiety. If your dog is still young, take these things into consideration. This is possible with appropriate training and socialization.

Separation Anxiety Test

 Install a camera and keep an eye on your dog for 20 minutes to determine whether or not your dog is experiencing separation anxiety. The signs will usually become obvious immediately, so it's a good idea to remain nearby but hidden, either in another room or a few feet from your front door, in case you need to go back to calm down your dog or stop any damage from happening to your home. You most likely have a case of dog separation anxiety on your hands if you discovered that your dog's stress symptoms persisted after 15 to 20 minutes of confining them or leaving them at home alone.

How to manage dog separation anxiety

 Helping your dog feel less dependent on you and to promote your dog's capacity for relaxation while you are away from home are the two main objectives of treating separation anxiety in dogs. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for stress-related behaviors; it takes time and patience to help a dog overcome separation anxiety. Pet owners should seek out a trainer or behaviorist with experience treating the behavior because treating separation anxiety is a difficult process. Examples of such professionals include certified separation anxiety trainers (CSATs) or veterinary behaviorists who are able to prescribe medication when necessary.

How to manage dog separation anxiety
How to manage dog separation anxiety

Changes in Behavior

 The best way to help your dog overcome separation anxiety is to gradually and permanently alter his understanding of what being alone entails. Your best option for developing a behavior modification program that meets the needs of your dog will be a dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist.

 Using a systematical desensitization process, according to Flores, is how they help the dogs comprehend and gain the confidence to remain calm until their human returns. The coach says: "We regularly begin  with making very small adjustments in order to assemble a steady basis for the dog's comfort."

 Dog separation anxiety training involves briefly leaving the room for a moment and coming back to prevent your dog from getting anxious. As with all behavior modification training, the dog must remain "sub-threshold" throughout the procedure, which means that they shouldn't be showing signs of stress as a result of the work.

The pace of this gradual process must match that of your dog

 Flores emphasizes how crucial it is to desensitize the pre-departure cues that are a part of the departure routine, such as picking up your keys, putting on shoes, picking up your bag, and opening the garage door.

 Dogs pick up on all of these cues, so we want to incorporate them into training sessions in a way that demonstrates to the dog that it means the person is leaving but they are also returning before they begin to become alarmed, according to Flores.

During these training phases, don't leave your dog alone at home

 The fact that your dog should never be left alone once the training process starts presents one of the main difficulties in treating separation anxiety. According to Flores, even if you are unable to be at home with your dog, you can still enlist the assistance of a neighbor, friend, relative, dog walker, or daycare center to assist with the training process.

 "To ensure the training progression we are making, managing absences is essential. For instance, if we train the dog to be content for 30 minutes, but the next day we leave him alone for two hours, we may have undone all of our hard work. He can no longer rely on his guardian's return to stop him from panicking," according to Flores.

Before you leave, start the appropriate exercise routines

 Most dogs, especially those with separation intolerance, a milder form of separation anxiety, can benefit from more exercise. Prior to leaving your dog alone, exercise his mind and body to help him relax while you're gone.

 Playing mentally stimulating games that are challenging before being left alone can help dogs who are dealing with mild separation intolerance. Your dog can get ready to settle down once you leave for the day by finding treats that are concealed in puzzle toys or by participating in scenting games like "find the toy."

 Dogs can become mentally exhausted through simple trick training. Working on a skill like "spin" or "high five" is more than just adorable and enjoyable; the mental stimulation will make your dog ready for a rest.

Give your dog engaging toys to play with while you're away

 Dogs who experience mild separation anxiety may also come to enjoy the ritual of receiving a treat-stuffed goody when their owner leaves the house for the day. Flores advises against leaving interactive food toys with dogs who have severe separation anxiety, though.

 Flores Also says: "In some cases, the food toy could become a sign that something terrible is about to happen because the food toy has been given numerous times before leaving." After finishing the food, the dog will panic when they realize their owner is still missing.

How to deal with puppy separation anxiety

 Never punish a puppy for acting out of anxiety; doing so will usually make the problem worse. You can take deliberate action to lessen the issue if your puppy engages in destructive separation behaviors.

How to deal with puppy separation anxiety
How to deal with puppy separation anxiety

 The best way to reduce anxious behaviors in your puppy is to desensitize him to your departure or absence. For instance, pick up your car keys 50 times, but don't drive away afterward. Put your coat on or repeatedly fling open the door before staying inside. Repeating these cues will make them less effective, calming the puppy down for when you actually depart. Increasing your puppy's tolerance for your absence gradually may be helpful as well. You can attempt to exercise for one minute at a time, followed by two, three, etc. To reduce the amount of energy needed for it to cause damage while you're away, make sure your puppy is exhausted from exercise before you leave the house. 

Treatments like Clomacalm (clomipramine hydrochloride) or Reconcile (Prozac or fluoxetine) may be prescribed by your veterinarian to treat the anxiety, but these medications don't always work as a cure-all.

Dog separation anxiety FAQ

Can separation anxiety in dogs be treated?

 Set up routines and limits so your dog can experience gentle separation. It is advised to train your dog in crates as a preventative measure. Start treating separation management in a small way, such as teaching your dog to wait in a different room while you go outside, and work your way up to leaving the house.

Is it okay to leave my anxious dog home alone?

 If there are signs of separation anxiety in your dog. This indicates that she feels uneasy being left at home by herself. Dogs are social creatures, Dogs are social creatures, so it is not natural for them to spend extended amounts of time apart from their social group (you). The majority of dogs, though, can be left alone without incident.

How long does it take to treat dog separation anxiety?

 You can anticipate working with your dog to reduce his separation anxiety for about two months. By starting out slowly and ensuring your dog is at ease before you leave, you'll be able to extend your time away much more quickly in the later stages.

Which dog breed has the most separation anxiety?

 Labrador retrievers, Chihuahuas (both mixed breeds and standards), German Shepherds, and Cocker Spaniels are typically the four breeds of dogs that exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety, based on private practice veterinarian of the Davie Veterinary Clinic in Davie, Florida Dr. Butch Mitchell.

Does ignoring your dog help with separation anxiety?

 Ignoring Your Dog Is Not The Solution, One common misconception about separation anxiety is that if you ignore your dog or make them spend extended periods of time alone, they will eventually grow accustomed to it and stop acting out. As you can see, the reverse is true.

Should you say bye to your dog?

 For some dogs, saying goodbye can be a helpful ritual that calms them before you leave. They may become calmer after being petted or spoken to in a calming voice. However, you should not only do this occasionally to prevent them from mistaking it for a sign that you are packing up and leaving.

Will a dog get used to being alone?

 Your dog will start to get used to being by himself while also learning an important lesson: you always come back. Until they are about a year old, we advise leaving your dog in a secure location, such as a roomy crate or puppy playroom, even though some dogs might require a few extra months of training.

Conclusion: Crate train your dog during your absence

Crate train your dog during your absence
Crate train your dog during your absence

 Giving your dog a secure place to stay while you are gone is known as crate training. Your dog feels safe and secure in the crate. Unless they are destroying what is in the crate with them, you can make it comfortable for them by placing their favorite blanket in the crate with them.  As a result, it will become routine for your dog to be in this location when you leave the house. Both senior dogs and puppies find comfort and familiarity in crates, which are a good training tool for puppies who are still learning.

Only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, are used by Nodisk One to substantiate the information in our articles.