Does Your Dog Suffer With Separation Anxiety?


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How to Help Your Dog With Separation Anxiety

Dogs bring great joy, comfort and fun into our lives, but it can be difficult when your pup chews the rug or scratches at the door while you’re away. At first, you may attribute this behavior to exuberant puppy energy; however, if the problem continues, there may be a bigger problem. Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety when you are away, which causes this destructive behavior. So, if you notice these problems, help your dog overcome his or her anxiety with the following tips:

Separation Anxiety vs. Boredom

Owners of destructive dogs need to first determine if their dogs suffer from separation anxiety or boredom. Dog behaviorist Victoria Stillwell recommends videotaping your dog to watch his or her behavior when alone. If your pup is whining, drooling, barking or pacing soon after you leave, it may be anxiety. However, if your dog goes to sleep or to another part of the house, it’s most likely boredom.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Dog experts recommend exercise for both bored and anxious dogs because it gets out any excess energy and stress. This is especially helpful if done right before you leave. You also may want to supplement exercise with obedience training to mentally stimulate your dog. Training can help your dog learn impulse control and problem solving and provide a distraction when you have to leave. Renowned dog trainer Cesar Millan recommends teaching your dog basic sit and stay commands in front of the door. Train your dog to stay near the door while you go out of sight for longer and longer periods of time. This will give your dog confidence and teach him or her self-control.

On the other hand, your dog may simply need a distraction for the first few minutes after you leave. To do this, give your pup appropriate chew toysand activity toys to help redirect his or her attention to a more positive activity. This may be enough of a distraction to stop the destructive behavior.

A Comforting Environment

Creating a calm and comforting environment may help your dog’s separation anxiety. You can do this by making it seem like you are still home. For example, you can leave a couple lights on and play music or leave the TV in the background. The ambient noise and light may help your dog feel more relaxed. Or, if your dog whines at the window until you come home, consider covering the window with long drapes or blackout shades to prevent the temptation.

You also may be able to comfort your dog by desensitizing him or her to your departure and arrival. For example, don’t jingle your car keys or make a big fuss when you’re getting ready to leave or getting home because this may trigger or even encourage your dog’s anxiety. Also, consider changing your routine so your dog doesn’t pick up on clues that you’re going to leave. For instance, don’t always go out the same door or put on the same coat or sweater when you go out.

Separation anxiety requires action on several fronts for the best results. Understanding your dog’s behavior is the first step. Then, follow through on good exercise, consistent training, and a comfortable environment to relieve stress and distract from destructive behaviors.

A fellow pet sitter owner of  Vital Visits wrote a great blog about Separation Anxiety as well feel free to click here to read

If you are planning to travel, you may want to hire a professional pet sitter to come to stay at your house.  This works great for many of our clients. Just check out our website Love and Kisses Pet Sitting or call us at 704-763-9857

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  1. peggy frezon

    Separation anxiety is such a difficult problem, and I feel so bad for the dogs that suffer with it. We adopted a golden who cried every time we left the house. I felt so bad. But we got a pet cam and he was fine moments later. You offer great tips.

  2. Dolly the Doxie

    As a dog with separation anxiety we know that those are all very good tips! I am fine once anyone leaves, I was never destructive or anything. But I put on a real drama show before they leave to make sure they are very guilty and get home as soon as possible! Love Dolly

  3. Jana Rade

    Thank you for raising awareness; so many dogs suffer from this. Dogs were not designed to be alone and need to be desensitized to that.

  4. Jessica Shipman

    I experienced separation anxiety with Luna after adopting her. She was destructive and howling. It took time, but we are finally to a place where Luna actually enjoys some alone time!

  5. Amy Shojai, CABC

    Great post. Separation anxiety is different than separation behaviors, true. Some dogs just want to throw a party when you leave, LOL!

  6. Carol Bryant

    Gotta say – I dont ever leave my dog alone. It just worked out that way . TY for getting the word out about separation anxiety.

  7. Marie

    Excellent post with great advice. My dog walks me to the door when I leave and then is there at the door when I get back. Sometimes I wonder if she ever moves away from the door…

  8. Maureen

    Great post. I really enjoyed it!

  9. Abby Chesnut

    Great information! My girls suffer from a but of anxiety but it is not as bad compared to when they were puppies!

  10. Cathy Armato

    I’m a big believer in a well exercised dog being a happy dog! Alleviating both anxiety & boredom are really important to prevent destructive behavior and stress for your dog. Good tips!


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