Dog Health

What is separation anxiety? And how to deal with it

Ever wondered why your dog is acting up when you leave for work? Your pooch could be going through separation anxiety. This is when dogs display problem behaviour when they are separated from their owners, and it is common in many dogs. Look out for the following symptoms, if they occur regularly, they may be an indication of separation anxiety: 

  • Barking and howling
  • Chewing/destroying items in the house 
  • Defecating/urinating in the home 
  • Scratching at the door or attempting to escape

There are several reasons why your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety, for example:

  • If they are new  
    They may be used to being with their previous owner all day 
  • Recently moved to a new house

This can be stressful for everyone, including the dog!

  • Change of schedule
    e.g.: You’ve recently started working nights or changed jobs and have different hours
  • Change in family size
    e.g.: Someone has left for university or there’s a newborn in the home.
  • Neglect
  • Long vacations
  • Heredity behaviour
  • Genetics

Of course, there may be other reasons why your dog may be displaying these behaviours so be sure not to rule out boredom, scent marking, lack of house training, medical problems or triggers causing your dog to bark. 

How to help separation anxiety

  • Give your dog a treat every time you leave and remove it from them once your home. This will be an incentive for your dog to enjoy alone time.
  • Don’t make too much of a fuss when you leave or re-enter the house. Try to ignore your dog for a few minutes when you get home.
  • Be present even when you aren’t by leaving some of your clothes around so your dog can smell you or buying a device, such as a Petcube or a treat dispenser so you can interact with your dog throughout the day. Check out some options here
  • Consider some natural supplements that intend to calm your dog, like sprays or treats. You can find these at your local pet shop. If your dog is experiencing severe separation anxiety medicine may be the only way to calm them down. Speak to a vet. 
  • Exercise your dog before you leave the house. Calming them down may tire them out, sleep may distract them and reduce separation anxiety.

Whatever option works best for your furry friend it’s important to remember that the behaviour they are displaying is not uncommon and overcoming the problem will take hard work and dedication so be patient!  

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