While we love dogs dearly, handling those with separation anxiety is unbearable. They can tear your expensive sofas, soil your home with urine and poo, bark for a prolonged period, or even chew your valuables.
Gladly, dog separation anxiety isn’t a lifetime condition. You can easily control it with a few tricks. Supposing it is your first time handling a dog with this type of anxiety, here is every piece of information you need to help it overcome its behavioral issues.
What triggers separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety typically results when a dog parts with someone it had bonded with. However, this isn’t the only cause. There are a couple of other situations that trigger this behavioral issue. The common ones are:
• Loss of a companion pet
• A traumatic event happening while a dog is alone
• Moving your dog to a new home
• Absence of one family member
How do you know your dog has separation anxiety?
Dog separation anxiety comes accompanied by a couple of signs. The most usual are, persistent barking, panting, chewing & scratching objects, drooling, pacing, excessive licking, loss of bladder control, inability to relax, and over-excitement when you are back home.
How to stop dog separation anxiety with these 5 tips:
These signs of separation anxiety will disappear once the dog reconnects with its guardian. For that reason, if they persist even in your presence, then your dog could be suffering from a different medical problem.
1. Exercise your dog heavily
While separation is the primary cause of dog separation anxiety, the problem gets worse when Fido has a lot of pent-up energy. He will use that energy to tear your seats, bark for prolonged periods, dig up holes, or chew things.
That’s why vets will always suggest regular and heavy exercise as a remedy for separation anxiety.
With sufficient workouts, your dog will spend its lonely time in resting mode. It will have little energy to destroy things. Also, regular and heavy exercise will produce helpful endorphins that will help your dog calm down.
One suggestion to tire your dog out is, before leaving, take your canine out for a long walk or cycling session. You can also play games for a couple of minutes. Make sure your anxious canine is exhausted before you start you day. There are many activities you can do with your furkid to get it tired out.
2. Say goodbye and reassure your canine before you leave
Bidding them goodbye and reassuring your furry friend that you will be back is enough to minimize anxiety levels. This simple act will leave them in a better mood to struggle with worry and seclusion while you’re away.
When bidding them goodbye, don’t put on that concerned, nervous face. Instead, talk in a calm and confident voice. Since dogs can read your tone, an assertive voice will help your pup feel like everything is okay.
If words cannot calm your pooch down, cuddle and massage it gently for a few minutes. The cuddling will minimize the production of cortisol, a hormone that increases stress and anxiety. Also, a gentle massage will stimulate the production of relaxation hormones.
3. Show your dog that it isn’t a big deal to leave or come back
When it is time to leave, don’t show your canine that parting is a big deal. Get up and close the door behind you without sweet talking, showing concern, keeping eye contact, or patting your four-legged friend.
When you come back, act the same way. Do not indulge in your dog for some minutes before you finally give it some attention. Make it seem like it’s just a usually routine, nothing special. With the show of little concern, your dog will understand that parting isn’t something to worry about.
4. Use Music Therapy
Music therapy isn’t for human beings alone. The beats, melodies, and great tones are therapeutic for your anxious dog as well. Pet therapists claim that soft music from a piano or guitar helps anxious dogs breathe slowly, as well as stay relaxed.
Nonetheless, not all types of music are therapeutic. For instance, loud music with frequent vibrating effects will raise your dog’s adrenaline, a hormone that can increase anxiety. With such music, your already anxious dog won’t be able to relax.
Thus, before you use music as therapy to stop dog separation anxiety, make sure you choose your tunes wisely. Researchers say that pets, particularly dogs, enjoy reggae, soft rock, and classical music. But, since each dog has its unique taste of music, it would matter to play your Fido’s favorite.
5. Leave your dog for a few minutes per day and increase the period gradually
Suppose your pup is super addicted to your company, help it get used to your absence gradually, before you start leaving for hours or days. How? Don’t leave it suddenly. Instead, start by a few minutes, and increase the separation time slowly.
Leaving it suddenly would trigger the worst episode of dog separation anxiety. Your dog will not be able to comprehend the reason why you had to leave it alone. It will think that you’re abandoning it.
When helping your canine get used to living without you, use music therapy to calm them down and exercise them adequately to reduce their energy levels. You can start with 20 minutes and increase the time gradually up to 8 or more hours.
7 alternative ways to stop dog separation anxiety
Music therapy, helping your dog to cope up with loneliness, and regular exercise work will not deliver immediate results. You’ll have to boost the strategies with products that reduce anxiety, prevent destructive behavior, or help you calm your dog down remotely.
Yes, you may be surprised but there are actually products in the marketplace that can help you to work on easing your dog’s anxiety issues. These products will work remotely so you do not have to be beside your pup physically to calm it down.
Not sure of which products reduce dog anxiety? Here are the 7 essential items that would help you stop your dog’s separation anxiety within a short time. These are also recommended by behaviorists.
Thundershirt’s anxiety Jacket uses a science-backed massage technique to help anxious, frightened, or excited dogs calm down after a stressful episode. It mimics the effect of a calming hug from a pet guardian.
This anxiety jacket isn’t just great for dogs battling separation anxiety. You can also use it to keep your dog calm when traveling or seeing a vet. Leading dog behavior scientists like Dr. Temple Grandin recommend using this product.
Thundershirt made this anxiety jacket from a durable fabric. In addition, the fabric is soft enough to keep your pup comfortable, lightweight, easy to use, breathable, and machine washable.
• Certified to work effectively
• Easy to use
• Multiple sizes
• Eliminates the use of anxiety medicines
• It may not work for dogs with severe anxiety
Designed to look and feel like a real dog, the SmartPetLove behavioral toy will give your dog some company when you leave it behind. It produces physical warmth, and it has a false pulsing heart. Your dog will feel like it is close to another real dog.
SmartPetLove made it from materials that are free of lead, phthalate, and mercury. Therefore, it will not harm your furry friend. As a bonus, the materials used on this pet are sturdy enough to withstand anxiety-related abuse.
If your anxious dog soils the toy with poo and urine, don’t fret. Just throw it into your machine washer to clear the stains, dirt, and odor.
• Abuse resistant
• Resembles and feels like a real dog
• Machine washable
• Safe for your pooch
• May not survive aggressive chewing and scratching
With the Furbo dog treat tossing dispenser, you and your pet will feel closer when you are miles apart. This appliance has a full HD camera to let you keep an eye on the anxious dog remotely.
With the camera’s night vision capability, you can stream footage even when your indoor is dark and the lights aren’t on. It offers a 160-degree angle of view.
Equipped with two-way audio, you can try calming your dog from the comfort of your office, hotel room, car, or wherever you are. If it obeys your pleas, command the dispenser to award your dog with a treat.
• Tamper-proof construction
• Two-way communication
• Treat dispenser reinforces positive behavior
• Sends alerts when your dog barks
• Your dog can knock it down
If you choose cycling as the best way to exercise your dog before leaving home, this leash from Walky Dog will come in handy. It will keep your dog leashed on your bike’s saddle as you focus on navigating through cycling tracks.
Walky Dog made this leash last long. They made the metallic frame from high carbon stainless steel, a hardwearing material that can take even the heaviest beating. Its military-grade leash tether can handle 550 lbs. of pull strength.
This bicycle leash brags of patented lock that is super easy to mount and dismount. So, you won’t be wasting your precious time fixing it on your bike. The best part is that the lock attaches to just any bike.
• Hardwearing construction
• Easy to setup
• Universal lock
• Military-grade leash cord
• The leash may affect bike control
Sometimes, dogs battling separation anxiety can relieve their stress on your valuables. They will chew your shoes, tear your seats, or even defecate on your carpet. At worst, aggressive scratching can chip their claws, and chewing hard objects can break their teeth.
Amazon Basic made this metallic Playpen to prevent your dog from spoiling your valuables and harming itself when left alone. The Playpen is an excellent alternative to caging your anxious dog.
It has eight panels, each measuring 24 by 24 inches. They connect to form 16 square feet enclosure that is spacious enough for play and free movement. The Playpen has ground anchors to help you attach it to your floor securely.
• Folds flat
• Easy to set up
• Over-aggressive dogs can jump out
The Adaptil dog calming diffuser releases pheromones that help your anxious dog calm down naturally. You can use it when traveling, visiting your vet, or whenever you expose your pup to stressful conditions.
With 90% efficacy, this dog-calming diffuser will induce a calming effect on all mild cases of anxiety. It is clinically certified to work.
This calming diffuser comes in a 48ml bottle which can last for about four weeks. If it runs out before stopping separation anxiety, you can refill it. It is free of harmful compounds.
• Veterinary approved
• It doesn’t come with a diffuser
• It only works for mild cases of dog anxiety
LickiMat slow feeder is designed to keep your anxious dog busy with its favorite treats. That way, it will have little time to chew and scratch your valuables. Also, the slow feeder will curb howling and barking.
The feeder will not only stop separation anxiety but will also boost your dog’s dental health. The licking action stimulates the production of saliva, which neutralizes tooth corrosion occurring from bacterial acid.
Featuring a textured surface, this slow feeder will prevent your pup from consuming the treats at a world-record pace. As such, a single application will keep your dog busy for hours. It works with wet and dry dog treats.
• Works with all food types
• Free of harmful compounds
• Dishwasher washer safe
• Hand-washing is quite hard
4 things to avoid when considering how to stop dog separation anxiety
When helping your dog to its anxiety issues, some pawrents will get impatient and end up making some irreversible mistakes. This will only cause your furkid to develop more problems. So what are the 4 things all fur guardians must refrain from making?
• Punishing your canine
Persistent barking, soiling your carpet with poop, chewing your valuables, and tearing your expensive furnishings will genuinely piss you off. But, since this reaction isn’t deliberate, it would be prudent to avoid punishment.
Instead, help your dog to overcome separation anxiety humanely. What your furkid needs most is love and patience. So during this period when you’re helping your dog to overcome its anxiety issue, you need to remain calm and persist in letting your pup know of your love.
• Bringing in another dog
Dogs will get anxious because their guardian or their best friend isn’t around. They don’t just get anxious because they are alone. Therefore, bringing in a new dog won’t make them get over the separation anxiety. It may even get more anxious as it tried to compete for your attention.
While crating can help your dog’s anxiety levels to reduce, it will not offer a long-term solution. You will have to include other remedies like exercise, the use of anxiety-relieving toys, and music therapy to stop dog separation anxiety.
• Obedience re-training
Many pet guardians, more especially the new ones, think that dog separation anxiety is a form of disobedience that needs obedience training. But, in the real sense, separation anxiety is a natural response to separation. You just need to help it get used to life without their favorite person.
Final Thoughts: How to stop dog separation anxiety
Keep in mind that dog separation anxiety isn’t a permanent condition. You can stop it by using music therapy, regular exercising, and preparing your dog psychologically before you leave.
Since stopping this anxiety can take long, you can use anxiety-relieving toys, diffusers, jackets, and other products to accelerate results. The most important thing is giving it lots of love and patience while it learns to spend time on its own, without you.