My Dog Has Separation Anxiety... What Do I Do?
Have you noticed your dogs behavior change when you leave or come home? Dogs can get anxious when you're away, so it's good to understand if they have separation anxiety and what may be causing it.
The most common potential symptoms of your dog having separation anxiety are:
- Excessive Barking
- Panting or Drooling
- Sweaty Pads
- Nervous behavior (ie. pacing)
- Chewing or destroying things (ie. the couch)
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is when you leave the room or home and the anxiety your pup feels without you present. This can be very common in puppies but if this behavior manifests into adulthood, can cause problems for your dogs confidence (and your home). We want to encourage confident behavior in our dogs, especially as puppies when they are most easily trained. Separation anxiety can become a deep behavioral issue, so helping your dog feel safe and confident is important.
6 tips to help your pet with separation anxiety
For puppies and dogs that have a lot of energy, exercise is key. Without exercise, the energy gets stored and pent up, leaving them anxious. Exercising them before leaving the house, or crating them, lets them get ready for a nice comfy nap while you're away. Run with your pet or play fetch to help ensure as much energy as possible is released. A well exercised dog is a happy dog.
2. Puzzle Toys & Training
Mental stimulation is a great way to exercise your dog too! This mental exercise will help get rid of some of that extra energy, especially after physical exercise. Training your dog a new trick or doing nose work, and then topping it off with a puzzle toy is a great way to reinforce that you being gone isn't a bad thing. Instead of fixating on your absence, they can turn their focus on the task at hand, getting a yummy treat from their toy.
3. Crate Training or Space Limiting
While it is nice to give your dog free range of the house for them to stretch their legs, more space can sometimes allow dogs to pace more, building up more anxious energy, especially if there are noises coming from outside or in the hallway of an apartment complex. Crate training, especially if they turn to destructive habits while you are gone, is a great way to keep them confined and feeling comfortable in their own space. Dogs are den animals and their den is their safe space. If crate training doesn't feel like a good fit for you, try limiting the space they have in your home with baby gates.
4. Don't Say Goodbye
Although this can be tough, I know especially for myself, don't tell your dog goodbye when you are leaving. Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for, and these actions or words are triggers, letting them know you are about to leave. Keep it cool and don't let them know when you are leaving them alone. Try putting on your coat and/or shoes and walking around the house, doing things, before actually leaving. These actions can help desensitize certain triggers they may have that are non-verbal.
5. Close the Curtains
If your dog has a tendency to be anxious, then make sure to close the blinds or curtains. My dog, Yogi, he gets very worked up he sees people walk on the sidewalk, especially with other dogs. When I leave the house I don't give him the option to look out the window and get worked up. This type of anxiety could lead to other destructive behaviors, such as chewing on furniture or shoes.
6. CBD Oil
This is a great alternative to give your pup relief. CBD Oil (cannabidiol) is a naturally found substance derived from the hemp plant. This is not to get your furry friend 'high' as it does not contain high enough levels of THC. It's always better to start off slow, but you may see immediate results. It's best to note down the dosage and behavior, especially when starting out. For more information on CBD oil for anxiety in dogs, please visit Dogs Naturally Magazine.
These 'shirts' are perfect for dogs as they hit specific pressure points to help calm your dog down (cat versions available too). This soothes them and helps them feel less anxious with this tight fitting jacket.
Separation anxiety can be common, heck, it's understandable, your pets love you so much! However, these are a few ways to deal with their stress and help your pup feel more confident and safe.
If your dog has separation anxiety and you will be gone longer than normal, we always suggest an in-home sitter or dog walker! Dogs that are high-stress and high-anxiety tend to have it even worse when kenneled outside of their normal home surroundings. Kenneling can be hard on a dog as it is a brand new environment, where you are not, with a lot of noise and very little comfort. Although you could splurge for a cozy dog spa, letting someone sit them in your home helps to keep them as comfortable as possible.