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My Dog Has Separation Anxiety

a black and white dog sitting by a door
Amber LaRock Author of My Dog Has Separation Anxiety
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Though it’s an incredible feeling to have a pup that centers their world around you, it can open the doors for anxiety when you’re not around. In this article, we’ll discuss some common triggers of separation anxiety, how to deal with this issue, and ways you can help relieve their stress. 

What is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety can occur when a dog becomes overly attached to a certain family member or becomes too stressed when they are left alone. Some dogs only experience separation anxiety when left alone for long hours, while others can experience panic when their owners leave the house for 30 minutes. Separation anxiety is often considered a serious behavioral disorder that will need to be corrected as soon as possible in order to prevent damage in your home or even injury to your dog.

Some signs of separation anxiety in dogs include:

  • Destructive behavior such as shredding items in your home, chewing walls, chewing the wires on their cage, destroying toys, chewing through doors, and any other destructive activity.
  • Excessive barking or whining is extremely common in dogs with separation anxiety. Some owners recall hearing their dogs howling through the door as they walk to their car, and receive complaints from neighbors about their barking when they are away. This can be troublesome for those who live in apartments.
  • Some dogs will pace in patterns or circles when they are separated from the owner they’ve become extremely attached to.
  • Escape attempts can be one of the most worrisome habits of a dog with separation anxiety. Some owners recall stories of their dog breaking out of their cage, chewing through walls, or scaling tall fences during one of their anxious fits.
  • Inappropriate urination and defecation can also be a sign of separation anxiety in dogs, as many owners come home to accidents in the house from their anxious pups.

If your dog has displayed any of the above symptoms, they may be experiencing separation anxiety.

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What can cause separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety can be triggered by a number of changes within a dog’s life. If your once calm and collected pup is suddenly becoming destructive when you’re away, consider the following changes that could have triggered this behavior. 

Some causes of separation anxiety include:

  • The sudden disappearance of the person in which they spent all of their time with
  • Being left alone for long hours
  • Living in a home where people are constantly coming and going
  • Change in daily routine
  • Moving into a new home
  • Getting a new owner
  • Death of their owner
  • Stressful home environment
  • Owners going out of town

How To Deal With Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a behavioral problem that needs to be corrected at the first sign of trouble. Since a dog can cause massive destruction in your home or seriously injure themselves, it’s best to put a quick stop to this behavior.

Some ways to help improve separation anxiety include:

  • Give your dog a stimulating toy to play with such as a kong with treats, licking pads with their favorite snack smeared on the pad, puzzle toys, or any other toy that occupies a chunk of your dog’s time.
  • Try not to make your departure into a big deal. We all love to give our pups a heartfelt goodbye, but this can create additional anxiety around you leaving, as they quickly learn that when you start your goodbye routine, you are about to be gone. By not making a big deal out of your coming and going, they are less likely to react each time you leave.
  • Leave out your favorite blanket or sweater for them to cuddle with when you are away.
  • Offer your dog a calming supplement that is known to help with anxiety. This can mean CBD chews, diffusing essential oils for anxiety, or resorting to veterinary prescribed medication if their anxiety is severe enough.
  • Make sure your dog is getting plenty of daily exercise. By helping to drain them of their excess energy, your pup will be more likely to sleep during your time away from home.
  • Offer them a variety of mentally stimulating toys. Luckily many pet owners have experienced separation anxiety in their dogs, so there are plenty of toys available for dogs who need a distraction. You can purchase toys that act as a puzzle that contain small kibbles, there are licking mats that allow you to freeze peanut butter or other tasty treats to the mat for up to 30 minutes of distraction, or treat dispensers that allow you to talk to or play with your dog while you are away.

Separation anxiety can seem like the end of the world when your dog is suffering, but there are several ways to help relieve their anxieties. Always try your best to make sure your pup is living a fulfilled life in your home, and you can be on your way to an anxiety-free dog.

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Meet The Author 

Amber LaRock

Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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