How To Calm Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Dog and owner

When you have a four-legged fur baby, nothing feels worse than coming home and having to clean up a disaster that your dog has left for you. Maybe he chewed up your favorite sweater, tore apart your couch, used the bathroom on the floor or maybe the neighbor complained that your dog barked or whined the whole time you were gone.

You may ask yourself, why does my dog do these things? Is he mad at me for leaving? Is he trying to be
spiteful? Or, Is he just trying to get my attention? These are questions we have asked ourselves. Just know that you are not alone, 50 to 75% of all dogs have some form of separation anxiety. So the question is now, what is separation anxiety and why does my dog have it? Read on to find the answer to these questions, and how to calm separation anxiety in dogs.

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Separation Anxiety is a complex emotional behavioral disorder that causes dogs to have excessive anxiousness when left alone. This means that it is a medical condition.

Dogs are social animals by nature, and they become bonded to their owners, when a dog with separation anxiety is leftDog looking for owner to come home alone they are terrified and looking for you to be there and help them. They have all of this excessive anxiety, and they are terrified and they
don’t know what to do. This is when negative behavior may occur, because the body’s response to a frightening situation is to release adrenaline and that triggers the body for action.

This could happen within 10 to 30 minutes of you leaving and will continue until the adrenaline is released. At that time the dog may rest, however it could start up again in 40 to 60 minutes. This is a definitive circle of emotions and adrenaline your dog is going through.

There is a wide range of the severity of Separation Anxiety that a dog can have. In mild cases your dog may pace, whine, or chew on things. However, it can be worse, such as having accidents in the house, panting, and lack or loss of appetite for food. In severe cases there is self-mutilation, such as chewing on paws, vomiting, and destructive behavior, such as tearing things up that is not their own.

What Are The Causes And Triggers Of Separation Anxiety?

There is not one thing you can say causes Separation Anxiety. There are many factors and situations that can cause it. It can come on at any age and with any breed of dog. There are though, situations that have been proved to bring it on. Here are a few examples-

  • Inherited genetics and environmental factors
  • History of abuse
  • Time spent in an Animal Shelter
  • Abandonment and being left to fend for themselves
  • A traumatic event or series of events that cause a lot of stress, sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or threat of a serious injury
  • Lack of socialization
  • New owner or family
  • Abnormal attachment to owner
  • Changes in owner’s work schedule or daily routine
  • Moving to a different place or house
  • Changes in the family structure, such as a birth or a death, or someone moving in or out
  • Aging and decline of health

What Can I Do To Help My Dog?

The first thing I recommend, and it is very critical, is to take your dog to a veterinarian. Talk to your Veterinarian about the things that are happening and when it started. Your veterinarian will want to do a physical examination and get a fullDog at the Veterinarian history of your dog and learn about his environment.

This will help your veterinarian rule out any destructive behavior that might not be associated with separation anxiety. If your dog has separation anxiety, there are medicines that your veterinarian can prescribe to help calm your dog. Two of the most prescribed medications are Clomicalm and Reconcile.

Both of these drugs are approved by the FDA as an antidepressant for animal use only. These drugs are NOT sedatives, they only calm your dog down. They correct imbalances in the brain to decrease anxiety. These drugs are widely used for separation anxiety along with desensitizing training that you will be providing to help your dog.

Let’s Get Your Dog Calm And Not Panicking

Once your dog has been diagnosed with separation anxiety there are everyday things that you do, that can cause your dog to go straight into panic mode, because he thinks you are leaving. Observe when your dog starts to get nervous. Is it whenKeys in hand you grab your keys? How about when you put your coat on or when you put on your shoes? What you need to do then, is to desensitize your dog from that action.

For my dog it was when I sprayed hairspray. He knew right then I was leaving. So, I started spaying hairspray on my hair every day, even if I was not leaving. He knows now that I may be leaving, or I may be staying home. I desensitized him from the smell of hairspray, he no longer associates hairspray with my leaving the house.

Desensitize means to free your dog from fear and excessive anxiety, by gradually exposing them to the thing that is feared. So, if your dog’s trigger is you grabbing your keys, make sure you grab them every day and keep them in your pocket. Let them jingle all day as you move around your house doing your everyday activities. Whatever the trigger is, like putting on your coat or shoes, put them on and wear them all day long, while you are home. This will help your dog not to associate the action with you leaving.

What Else Do I Need To Do?

Not everyone can stay home with their dog because they have to work. Here are a few things to help keep your dog calm while you are away.

  • Make sure to take your dog for a walk before leaving so he will be tired
  • Give them a special chew bone that they only get when you are not there
  • Play soft music, white noise, or leave the TV on a calm channel
  • Have a friend or dog walker come over to walk and play with your dog for a little while
  • Day care for dogs, so he is not alone and around other dogs
  • Get a second dog as a companion
  • If it is an option work from home a few days a week

Don’t Make It Worse – Your Dog Can’t Help It

One of the worst things you could do to a dog that has this condition is to punish them, and yell at them. This will only cause them more anxiety. They do not need drama, so it is best not to have a long goodbye when you leave, nor a celebration when you get home. You remain calm and so will your dog. Ignore your dog’s overly excited attention seeking activities, however reward calm positive behavior with tummy rubs, treats, and toys. Make sure to spend relaxed time with your dog, like going on walks or sitting together on the couch. Doing this will also help him stay calm. Dog with owner

Now that you can see what Separation Anxiety is, how it works, and the things you can do to help. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below, as I have had experience with this before. Also, please comment below and tell about any of your success with dealing with Separation Anxiety.

Also remember, a happy dog a happy home.


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