How To Treat Separation Anxiety In Dogs: 7 Practical Ways Of Treatment

how to treat separation anxiety in dogs

Is your dog demonstrating a level of attachment that continues even after the considerable time and effort you’ve put into training? Or when left alone, does your dog act out wildly, leading you to be concerned about its troublesome behaviors? If this sounds familiar, it’s possible your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.

But what exactly is it, and is there any solution to this? We will discuss this today in our blog so that you, as a dog owner, can move freely and your pet becomes submissive rather than clingy and annoying.

So, let’s begin!

Why do Dogs Feel Separation Anxiety

Before looking at the measures to cope with your dog’s distress behaviors, let’s first see why dogs develop separation anxiety.

According to experts, dogs have a natural trait of being together in a pack, like between their mom, dad, cousins, and other dogs. They are always together, either following other dogs or waiting for some dog to come without knowing they must live separately one day.

So, it’s absolutely natural for them to follow humans, which in other words means they will follow their owners wherever they go: to another room, laundry, out for a walk, going to the kitchen, etc

Keeping this in our mind will help us understand puppy separation anxiety deeply.

Some practical reasons include the death of the owner, abandonment, moving from a dog home to a new home, a single traumatic event, etc.

Signs That Your Dog Is Suffering From Separation Anxiety

Following are the most popular symptoms shown in your dog if he is going through separation anxiety.

  • Your dog is fixated on you for having excessive attachment to you, worse than your family member
  • When you’re at home, he is right on your heels and literally follows you wherever you go
  • Your dog freaks out when you leave the house, trying to climb the windows and other means to escape, etc.
  • In the owner’s absence, he pees or poos on the floor and sometimes eats some of his excretion (Coprophagia) too.
  • House soiling or excessive barking for a longer periods when the dog owners are sleeping away from him or not at home
  • In the absence of a pet parent, the dog panics, pants, and paces for a long time
  • You can’t even go to the toilet without your dog whining, whimpering, or barking
  • Dogs suffering from separation anxiety maul cushions, pillows, and a puzzle toy even

But wait!

Before you finalize that your dog has separation anxiety because of his behavior problems, read the following lines too:

Is it Really Separation Anxiety or Normal Canine Behaviour

Either male dogs or female dogs, as per American Kennel Club (AKC), if your dog is showing any of the signs discussed above, even then, it may not be separation anxiety.

So, ask yourself if your dog is completely house trained not to mistreat items or poo other than at the designated place. Otherwise, your dog’s over-excitement and drooling are normal dog behavior.

How To Treat Separation Anxiety In Dogs?

As discussed already, we need to train dogs to live a sort of life that is unnatural to them, which means more loneliness and less togetherness.

The first step towards the treatment is to count the number of times your dog follows you in a day, no matter it is your trip to the washroom, your living room, your bedroom, opening the door for someone, etc

Once you know the number, make it nearly half, which will be your target number for training. For example, if your dog follows you 30 times a day, you must restrict him up to 15 times.

1. Train Your Dog To Accept The Separation Thing

This step will make your anxious dog understand that separation is not bad. Instead, it’s another form of calmness, affection, and peace-finding.

Before going further, you need to define reference points, which in other words, mean the rewarding places, so that he may know that the separation isn’t without rewards.

Here, you need to do two things.

First, before you take action with your dog, visualize it before actually doing it.

As an example, take his special treat and start moving away. While he moves along you, reach the rewarding place of your desire, and ask him to sit. Now go away and return after a few minutes to reward him for his patience.

To ensure a significant behavior modification, you behave silently, calmly, and gently to make your dog understand that you need relaxation of mind in return.

Because a dog’s anxiety is the combination of a confused mind and a tense body, which can be heard in his whining sound (au’nnn, au’nn), we need to convert it to a clear mind and relaxed body.

An important thing here is never to call your dog away from this reference point, as this is the core of the training sessions – ‘teaching separation.’

Training 1

Start moving away from him, and the moment he starts following you and expressing anxious behaviors, ask him to stop and stay there. Return after very short periods to see if he’s still there. Slowly increase your away time when the previous trips proved successful.

Repeat the above process by making sure you do not lower your tone by being gentler to him.

Don’t let your dog assess your departure cues.

Training 2

For example, if your dog starts secreting excessive salivation when you pick up your car keys or put on your coat, ask him to stay there. Alternatively, get the car keys and start eating instead.

Fun Facts (Separation Anxiety From Dog)

In a viral video on the internet, a mom can be seen telling her bulldog why he couldn’t accompany her on vacations, as if someone is teaching his child

2. Show Him You Mind Your Own Business (Be a Leader and Not a helicopter Parent)

When you show your excitement to the dog, he imitates and makes a stronger bond even. So, it would be best if you were a bit selfish here.

Like when you are back home, you need not show excitement but behave normally. You can practice this behavior by gradually increasing the ‘no-interest’ gestures.

Also, when you go for a walk, walk with confidence and relaxation, and pretend to ignore his over-excitement. He will calm down gradually after some time.

The moment you get nervous and notices his over-excitement, you lose. The catch is you need to be a leader.

3. Calm Him Down For Over-Excitement

If your dog is sitting beside you on a couch or in a car, and he whines too often, you can calm him down each time. This way, he will learn to calm down.

Remember, your dog will feed off your energy if you are not relaxed. In other words, your dog won’t be relaxed if you are not relaxed either.

You may hire a dog sitter or contact a doggy daycare if you don’t have time to train your dog yourself.

4. Medication, Natural Supplements & Toy Offering

Drug therapy is another way to reduce the anxiety of your dog if you think training alone will take longer. Over-the-counter medicines for this do exist, but it’s highly recommended to consult a vet first. Certain Tranquilizers are used for this purpose but are less likely to work alone. In short, drugs combined with the retraining program can work best for your dog.

A Food Stuffed toy or puzzle toys are another option to keep your dog busy and reduce his symptoms of separation anxiety.

Tough Solutions If Training Isn’t Working (Short-Term Only)

5. Crate Training For Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Many pet parents use this option first, which is totally wrong.

Crate training can only be used as a last resort when your dog is behaving crazily and damaging your property. Crating him may at least save you or him from any damage. But keep in mind that it should not be prolonged. Instead, after starting crating, you should consult an expert as soon as possible.

6. Citronella Collars

If your dog barks excessively in your sudden absence, it can disturb your neighbors a lot. Such a dog’s behavior can also cause health problems for himself.

In such a situation, spray bark collars can be a good companion for your dog, which sprays a small amount of citronella oil that dogs do not like and works as a distraction for them the moment he barks.

Again, this isn’t the permanent solution for your dog’s anxiety.

7. Consult Dog Experts/Veterinary Behaviorists

If you have tried applying different therapies and methods discussed above, but your dog isn’t letting go of his anxiety, it’s a serious condition. And you should consult a certified applied animal behaviorist or a vet to rule out any medical problems.

Dog experts know canines’ psychology very well. They would identify the problems and advise you on what to do and not do with your dog.

The veterinary behaviorist is the only solution if the dog has neurological issues, like non-stop barking on the owner’s departure or damaging your property in your absence. Consult any vet near you and seek his advice.

The Bottom Line

Dogs with separation anxiety are more stressful than you think. In a nutshell, all you need to do is to lower his excitement; that’s it! In other words, give your dog the right direction with the right energy. Be a leader and not backtrack onto the emotional side of yourself. Separation anxiety is a behavioral problem that can be cured with little training.

Is yours a happy dog? Does your dog have separation anxiety? If yes, what symptoms does he have? Let us know in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can dog separation anxiety be cured?

Yes, a dog’s separation anxiety can be cured at home by stopping his clingy behavior.

What triggers separation anxiety in dogs?

Any separation can cause anxiety, including abandonment, new owners, etc.

How long does separation anxiety last in dogs?

 It can take a few weeks to months to recover fully from separation anxiety if proper training is given.

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