Signs Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Updated: Jan 8
Just like humans, dogs can have separation anxiety, which causes them to feel stressed when left alone. This comes from a strong attachment to an owner, along with other factors. Separation anxiety can be triggered by a big lifestyle change, like moving to a new home or a change in work schedule. To figure out if your dog has separation anxiety, first know the common signs.
When a dog with separation anxiety is left alone, they may exhibit these signs:
Barking or howling
Having accidents inside
Trying to escape
Destroying furniture, shoes, etc.
While these are common signs of separation anxiety, the behavior of a distressed dog can vary from individual to individual. Consider your dog’s personality and typical behavior.
Separation Anxiety or Something Else?
Determining if your dog has separation anxiety from the common signs can be difficult because some of these behaviors aren’t exclusive to dogs with separation anxiety. You may be looking at the list and wondering how do I know if my bulldog has separation anxiety if he normally drools? or something of the like.
Consider the typical behavior of your dog and what would be expected. Is he fully potty trained? Could she be barking at neighbors outside? Is he getting enough exercise to get his energy out? Asking questions like these can help you filter out potential signs and determine if your dog really has separation anxiety.
How to Help
Separation anxiety can be hard on both dog and owner, but fortunately, there are different ways to help your dog cope with it. The following are methods that are known to help dogs overcome separation anxiety.
For less severe cases, give a special treat to your dog when leaving the house. Give them a treat or a toy that’s only given when you leave. Eventually, they will associate your absence with a treat, rather than a negative connotation.
Don’t make it a big deal when leaving or coming home. Leave casually without saying a grand goodbye, and when you return maybe wait a few minutes before greeting your dog. Yes, that can be hard to do when she’s whimpering for your attention, but over time, she’ll begin to understand that you leaving and coming is not a big deal.
Certain actions you do regularly before you leave, like picking up your keys or putting on a coat, can cause panic in your dog. To keep these actions from being triggers of anxiety, start to do them more often at random times throughout the day. After time, your dog won’t recognize these as signs of you leaving, which will prevent their anxiety from springing up when you leave.
Make sure your dog is getting enough physical activity and mental exercise. This will help get your dog’s energy out and keep them busy.
For more severe cases, if nothing else works, train your dog to get used to your absence. Dedicate time regularly to practice doing the following. Tell your dog to stay and leave the room. Then come back and allow some time for your dog to relax, and do it again. Start with however much time you can be out of sight without a panic attack, which may only be a couple of seconds, then increase the time intervals slowly.
Remember that helping your dog through his separation anxiety takes time and patience. Depending on his condition, it could take a few weeks of consistent practice of the methods above. If problems persist, you may want to contact an animal behaviorist for help or your veterinarian. It’s possible that your dog can benefit from medication to help their anxiety.
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