Updated: Mar 21, 2022
If your dog gets frantic and upset when you're apart, there are a couple things you need to do. This is how to help a dog with separation anxiety.
There are several reasons why your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety. If you believe your dog is suffering from this type of anxiety, then it's time to learn how to help a dog with separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is the stress response that a dog has when its owners are away from the home.
This type of anxiety can range from mild stress-related symptoms to extreme distress symptoms. If your dog paces or whines while you're away this might be a mild form of separation anxiety. If your dog injures itself trying to escape while you're away, then your pup may be suffering from extreme separation anxiety symptoms.
The causes might be a change in their owner, the loss of another pet, changes to their environment or surroundings, changes in their routine, long vacations, and more. If you believe your pup might be experiencing separation anxiety, then continue reading below. Here are a few ways to reduce separation anxiety in dogs.
Switch Up Your Leaving Routine
If your dog gets upset each time you leave the house, then you've probably noticed its triggers. For example, each time you grab your keys, does your pup begin to feel anxious? When your dog sees you put on your shoes, does whining start?
Your dog knows when you're preparing to leave them alone in the house. For this reason, it's beneficial to switch up your routine. To do this, you can start leaving out of a different door.
You can grab your keys but hold onto them for 15 minutes or so before actually leaving. You may also want to give your dog a safe treat to chew on to distract them while you leave. All of these things can help break your dog's association of you leaving with specific actions.
Help desensitize your dog to departure triggers by getting ready to leave and then sit down for dinner or watch TV. Repeating this helps the dog stop associating Your Departure Habits with the act of leaving if you do it enough times.
Try to Keep Emotions Neutral When Coming and Going
Before leaving your dog at home, it's common to want to say goodbye to them. However, if you want to prevent your dog from feeling anxious when you leave, then you should try to keep your emotions neutral. This is true for when leaving and coming home.
If you put too much emphasis on your departure or arrival, then it places your dog's focus on being left alone. Quietly say goodbye to your dog when leaving and calmly say hello when arriving home without giving too much attention until your dog's calmed down.
Teach Your Dog to Be Alone When You're Home
Another great way to get your dog used to being alone is teaching them to be alone even when you're home. Train your dog to say in one room of the house while you go into another. If this causes your dog to have major anxiety, then you can start with small increments.
Have your dog stay alone in one part of the house for about 10 seconds. Gradually work your way up to 30-minute sessions. This will help teach your dog that it's okay to be alone, they're still safe, and you're still close by.
Let Your Dog Exercise Before You Leave
Before leaving your dog alone in your home, it's beneficial to give your dog some time to exercise. The more tired your dog is, the calmer it'll be. Take your pup out to get some good exercise at least 30 minutes before your departure time.
When you come back inside, your pup will be focused on food and sleep. This can help reduce anxiety when you're away.
Create a Safe, Personal Space For Your Dog
When you give your dog a safe place that they feel comfortable in, it helps reduce their anxiety while you're away. Crate training a dog is very beneficial for this reason. The crate gives your pup that cozy safe place they need.
With proper crate training, your dog will then enjoy being in the crate and having some independence from you. When crate training your dog, be sure to put safe materials in the crate that can help it feel cozier such as dog blankets or beds. Do be cautious if your pup still likes to chew still.
You should also be sure to associate the crate with something positive. You don't want to make the crate a negative thing.
Put on Background Music and Leave Comfort Items
Any items that have your scent on them can also help your pup stay more relaxed while you're away. Think of an item from the dirty laundry like a t-shirt that you can leave with them. When leaving your dog in the crate, you should also be sure to remove any chains, chokers, or collars.
Then, keep soothing sounds playing in the background to help keep your dog calm. Soothing music might also help your dog fall asleep while away. If you don't keep your pup in a crate while gone, then you can hide treats around the house to give your dog something to hunt for and keep their mind busy.
Book a Consultation With a Trainer
If you're having trouble getting your pup to feel relaxed when you're away from the home, then don't hesitate to book a consultation with a trainer. The right type of training is designed to be a fun and engaging experience for both you and your pup. Speaking with a professional dog trainer will give you the information you need to ensure your dog's trained to be at home alone.
Professional trainers will also be able to provide you with tips and tricks for helping reduce your dog's anxiety.
Now's the Time to Learn How to Help a Dog With Separation Anxiety
As soon as you realize your dog's suffering from these symptoms, it's time to learn how to help a dog with separation anxiety. Use all of the helpful information and tips listed in this guide above to ensure your pup feels comfortable and safe each time you leave your home. Then, don't hesitate to contact K-9 Culture Dog Training.
Our team of professional dog trainers understands that not every dog has the same behavior needs or issues. We work with you and your dog to reach your specific goals. Book a consultation today to see how we can help you.