How do I Deal with My Dog’s Separation Anxiety?

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Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM author of How Do I Deal with My Dogs Separation Anxiety
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Some dogs will have problems when their owners leave the house. Many of these dogs may be destructive to the house or hurt themselves trying to get out of the house. These dogs suffer from separation anxiety. 

You may have noticed your dog starts to whine when you leave, or you may have to keep them in a crate in fear that they will destroy everything in the house. There are many things that can be done to help a dog with separation anxiety. This article will explain what separation anxiety is and what you can do to help your dog.


What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

There are many things that can trigger separation in your dog. Most dogs are attached to one specific person in the family. When that person leaves for work or school the dog may have a hard time dealing with their absence.

When you first get a new puppy, they may have a difficult time being left alone for the first time. Your dog may have experienced a traumatic event and fear being left again.

These dogs who have separation anxiety panic when they are left alone without their family. They can be very destructive and destroy things in the house. Your dog may also yelp and whining a lot when you first leave the house.

They may also be very nervous and pace around the house until your return. The behaviors can be both destructive to your house and harmful to themselves.

By figuring out what is triggering this anxiety will help when trying to help manage your dog’s anxiety. By trying to lessen this event will help with your dog’s separation anxiety.


How Can I Help With My Dog’s Separation Anxiety 

Veterinarian Advice 

There are many things that you can do to help your dog with separation anxiety. Make an appointment with your veterinarian and have your dog examined. There are medications that they can prescribe your do to help with separation anxiety. 

Training

You can even train your dog that you are going to eventually come back home. At first, just walk out the door and stay for just a few seconds and come back into the house. Then slowly increase the amount of time you are out of the house. 

Eventually, get in your car and drive around the block and come back inside. Eventually, your dog will learn that you are going to come back home. Some dogs do well with rewards when you leave and when you return to help decrease their anxiety. 

Crate Training 

While you are trying to find a medication or supplement that will help your dog with separation anxiety it is a good idea to keep them in a crate while your away. This will help decrease the chance that your dog will injure themselves or destroy something in the house.

Crate training is crucial in helping your dog with separation anxiety. By teaching your dog that their crate is a fun place to be and reward them for staying in their crate. This helps puppies get used to a space of their own, and considering that dogs are den animals, it gives them a place that they can retreat to when they are stressed or tired.

By putting a puppy in their crate this allows the puppy to get used to being without their special family member. This trains a dog to spend time by themselves and that alone time is a good thing.

When leaving your dog at home, do not make a big deal out of leaving or coming home. It is best to act like nothing is exciting about it. Eventually, your dog will get used to you leaving and coming home and you can then start making a big deal about coming home. When you leave, put your dog in their crate along with something with your scent on it such as an old worn tee-shirt or blanket.

Puzzle Toys and Other Treats

When you leave you can give your dog something to help distract them from you being gone.  A puzzle-based toy or chew stick will help give them something to do while you are gone. These will help give them something appropriate to chew on or destroy in your absence. 

Doggy Daycare

Doggy daycare could also be another great option for pet owners who have anxious dogs. Although separation anxiety is something that can possibly be trained, it is not one of the easiest behavior problems to be fixed. It takes a lot of patience and consistency.

If you fear that your dog could possibly harm themselves or cause damage to your home, then daycare may help to relieve their stress and yours. Daycare also will help to exert the energy that they are not able to release when you are away. This may in turn help decrease the anxious behavior if they have less pent up energy.


CBD for Dogs With Separation Anxiety

There are also anxiety supplements that you can give your dog to help them relax. CBD has been shown to help decrease stress and anxiety in dogs. You can give them these supplements to help them relax and be calmer. 

Along with helping dogs who have anxiety, CBD has shown to have other health benefits for dogs that may suffer from arthritis, seizures, and cancer. 

This is a great supplement to help your dog with the many medical conditions that they may be facing.


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What Not to Do When Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety 

You should never physically punish your dog with separation anxiety. You should always use positive reinforcement and tell them 'no' when they do something wrong and praise them when they do the right thing. 

Some people consider getting a second dog to help with separation anxiety. This can be an option to consider but it is not suggested to be the first option, especially if that is the only reason you are considering it. 

Getting a second dog could possibly help, however, the other possibility is that your first dog could teach the second dog the same behavior problems. Giving you two anxious to try to settle.  

Turning on the TV or the radio usually does not help your dog's anxiety and can sometimes even make it worse. 

The reason these tricks do not usually work is that the dog isn’t necessarily having an issue being alone, the issue is that they are separated from you. Dogs are pack animals and you are apart of that pack, so when you leave they fear they have been left behind. 


Things to Remember 

Separation anxiety can be very challenging at times. By working with your veterinarian and training your dog that you will be back will help decrease the episodes. 

There are many great medications that your veterinarian can prescribe your dog to help with their anxiety. There are also great supplements such as CBD products that you can give your dog to help with anxiety.  

Make sure to consult your veterinarian before starting any new medication or supplement. With a little time and patience, your dog can live a long and happy life free of all anxiety.


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Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM

Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.