The Calmer Canine: An Alternative to the Treatment of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

January 06, 2021 5 min read 0 Comments


A tired dog lays on a floor with its head resting on its paws

Dr. Erica Irish author of The Calmer Canine: An Alternative to the Treatment of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

One of the most common behavioral disorders in dogs is separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can present in many different ways and varies from mild to moderate to severe. It can be difficult to manage, and in many cases, it can lead to strained relationships between you, your dog, and even your neighbors!


What is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a behavioral disorder that occurs when a dog is separated from his owner or from a specific family member. Dogs with separation anxiety rely on cues from their special person to go about their day, but when this person is gone, these dependent pups sometimes don’t know how to function. They might not have learned coping mechanisms to help them when there is a scary sound, or maybe they remember something frightening that happened when their person was absent.

Separation anxiety doesn’t affect all dogs, but it can impact any dog regardless of size and age. Dog breeds with a genetic predisposition for anxiety are at a higher risk for developing separation anxiety. Younger dogs and dogs with high energy are also more likely to develop separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety can manifest in many different ways, and it can be triggered by something as innocent as you picking up the car keys. This means that your pup has associated something negative with this particular visual cue, and now he will get upset every time that cue is visualized.

Dogs with separation anxiety are likely to pace a lot when their owner leaves. They may go from room to room looking for their owner or constantly walk to the door or window. Dogs may display typical anxious behavior such as excessive panting, drooling, barking, and howling. Some dogs with moderate to severe separation anxiety may urinate or defecate in the house. They may also destroy doorways, furniture, bedding, toys, etc. in severe cases. Dogs with separation anxiety will especially try to chew on things that smell like their special person, including socks and underwear.  


Treating separation anxiety

There are many different ways to help treat separation anxiety, and it is important to note that there is no one particular way that will be 100% effective. Veterinarians will often recommend combining multiple methods for maximum results.

Training and behavior modification are the most important aspects of treatment. If you can help your pup to learn how to be calm without your presence, he will have little to no issues when you leave the house. Crate training may be one way to help because some dogs feel safer in a small enclosure. Rewards like food and toys should be given to your dog when he is exhibiting desired behavior, i.e. he is calm and relaxed, so that he associates good things with calm behavior. It is also essential to remove as many visual cues as possible (e.g. keep your car keys or purse or sunglasses out of sight, put your shoes on in the car, or park you car further away from home so your dog can’t hear the car starting).

Many calming supplements are available for purchase. These items contain ingredients that have a naturally calming effect. Products that contain dog-appeasing pheromones – like the one that comes from a mother dog when she feeds her babies – are available in many forms like collars, sprays, wipes, and oil diffuser plug-ins. Chewable supplements may contain ingredients like tryptophan or alpha-casozepine which have naturally calming effects but without any drowsiness.

Medications can also be prescribed for separation anxiety, especially if your dog has such severe anxiety that it is difficult for him to undergo behavior modification and learning to be calm. Tranquilizers are not recommended because they merely cause sedative effects yet do not address a dog’s anxiety. Instead, medications like fluoxetine and clomipramine are prescribed by veterinarians. Both have been approved for use in dogs by the Food and Drug Administration, and it can take anywhere from one to four weeks before improvements are seen. Like with any medication, however, it is possible to have side effects such as restlessness, agitation, and gastrointestinal upset.


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What is the Calmer Canine system?

The Calmer Canine Anxiety Treatment System, developed by Assisi Animal Health, is a product that has been created to help dogs with phobias and anxiety, especially separation anxiety. It involves the use of a small circular hoop, referred to as a "halo," that emits a targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (tPEMF™). This field stimulates healing by causing a release of chemical compounds that help to activate nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is responsible for the induction of various growth factors that are used in wound healing. Nitric oxide is also naturally released during exercise.

While Assisi's flagship product, the Assisi Loop, utilizes a specific tPEMF signal proven to reduce inflammation and pain, the Calmer Canine device's unique tPEMF signal is targeted to create a biological effect on the brain’s neural tissue. The patent-pending Calmer Canine® waveform targets the stress and anxiety centers in the brain.

When an individual is anxious, the amygdala is stimulated. The amygdala, which is in the center of the brain, is responsible for the “fight or flight response” in animals and in people. In a developed brain, the pre-frontal cortex is the center of reasoning and helps to minimize the response to anxiety-inducing stimuli. However, individuals who are constantly anxious are more likely to suffer degenerative effects that blunt the ability of the pre-frontal cortex to do its job, thus making anxiety worse over time.

With the Calmer Canine system, the loop is placed around the back of a dog’s head. It can be left in place if the pet can hold still, or it can be held by a special vest that is worn around the dog’s chest. The loop is kept in place for fifteen minutes while it emits the electromagnetic field. This action is performed twice a day for fifteen minutes for the next four to six weeks. It is easy to use and is not painful, nor does it create any loud sounds or vibrations that can be scary for dogs.

Research suggests that dogs with separation anxiety who use the Calmer Canine system are likely to see great results. The pilot study that was presented in Washington, DC in July 2019 demonstrated that 100% of the patients involved showed overall improvement in their severity scores after one month of treatment. The study also reported that 50% of owners felt their dog’s separation anxiety was resolved after six weeks of treatment. Because of these excellent results, there is now a larger study being conducted by doctors at North Carolina State University.

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Separation anxiety can be a complicated behavioral disorder, and it can take months of hard work to minimize your dog’s anxious and destructive behavior. It is important to discuss the appropriate steps with your veterinarian, and it helps to know some of the common treatments available. Certain treatments aren’t right for everyone, but for almost every pup, the benefits to the Canine Calmer system are excellent. This new product can be an integral part of any dog’s treatment for separation anxiety.


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Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish author of The Calmer Canine: An Alternative to the Treatment of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Dr. Erica Irish

Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine.