Separation Anxiety is a Big Problem that many dog owners face everyday.
Stressful barking and destructive chewing of household furniture may even push a dog owner to surrender their pup to a shelter because the cost is too great.
My husband and I have experienced the stress of Separation Anxiety in our dogs. It isn’t always an easy to fix, but we have some helpful Dog Separation Anxiety Solutions that we would like to share with you.
Separation Anxiety is a condition that causes your dog to literally freak out when you leave them alone.
My dogs, Ardi (German Shepherd) and Reno (Miniature Dachshund), had really bad Separation Anxiety when my husband and I would leave for work. Coming home to a big mess after work every day was just terrible.
Brand new doggie parents often don’t know that their dog has separation anxiety or how to make it stop.
Finding out the main cause for your dog’s behavior can help you find solutions that will help them feel safe and stay calm while you are away.
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Dogs?
There are many theories out there, but there really is not just one cause for Separation Anxiety.
I do believe that your dog has a higher chance of having Separation Anxiety if they experienced a traumatic event in their past.
It could also happen if your pup was weaned away from their mother too early. There are also certain dog breeds more prone to this behavior as well.
Keep this in mind: Dogs are pack animals. It is their natural instinct to want to be with their family.
When dogs are left alone, they may panic and become destructive.
Separation Anxiety Symptoms
Barking and Whining
Peeing and Pooping Indoors
Chewing and Destroying
Pacing Back and Forth
Note: If you have a puppy under the age of 5 months old, they may exhibit similar symptoms: barking, whining, chewing, and going potty indoors. This is not Separation Anxiety, this is normal puppy behavior.
My Personal Experience
My dogs had most of the Separation Anxiety symptoms listed above!
Reno, my dachshund, would bark, whine, chew the door of his kennel, poo inside his kennel and spread it all over the place.
Our shepherd would bark, drool, and constantly try to escape. Well, one day, he finally did get out of his kennel while we were at work. He chewed the door knobs, door frames, and our basement stairs to pieces. (See Pictures Below)
We even had a gorilla tough metal dog kennel for him, which he eventually warped enough to fit through a small hole.
It was awful! We were new doggie parents, and we didn’t know what to do.
Our basement staircase was all chewed up by Artemus (Ardi) when he got loose. You can also see my little puppy, Bastian, is sitting at the top of the stairs…he was the innocent one.
We were Ardi’s third home. When we adopted him, he had two previous owners who didn’t want him anymore.
After the major basement destruction incident, my husband was determined to give him up. I reminded him that I Never give up on my dogs, ever!
I knew there had to be solutions out there to help us.
While we were at home with Ardi, he was the most loving and protective dog.
He was always kind and gentle to our family, friends, and other dogs. He was literally a big huggable teddy bear.
I knew that Ardi needed help. He deserved our patience and love to get through this big challenge we were all facing together.
How Do You Help A Dog with Separation Anxiety?
It can be mentally and physically stressful for a dog when their owner leaves them home alone.
Dogs who have separation anxiety may act out because of their instinct, not necessarily out of bad behavior.
Punishing a dog for acting out will not do any good.
Separation anxiety training is needed to help your dog learn that you will be back and they don’t need to worry or destroy anything while you are away.
Training Tip: If your dog has separation anxiety, most of the destruction will occur in the first 30 minutes of your departure.
Dog Separation Anxiety Solutions:
1. Separation Anxiety Training
Start by leaving your dog in the kennel or your home’s gated area alone for 5 minutes.
Return with a small treat and reward with praise. This lets your dog know that when you leave, you will come back.
Increase their alone time gradually and repeat the same steps. Using positive reinforcement will help lower their anxiety when you leave.
2. Avoid Triggers:
Leaving for the day: To avoid triggering a separation anxiety episode, do not have direct interaction or make eye contact with your dog right before you leave.
Certain triggers like getting your keys out, hugging, or saying “Good-bye” can set them off. Dogs reflect your behavior and will start to get upset if you indicate that you are leaving for the day.
Coming Home: Avoid any direct excited interaction with your dog when you arrive home. Remain calm and let your dog outside to go potty without making a big fuss.
Routine exercise prevents boredom and helps lower your dog’s anxiety and stress level.
All dogs need exercise and playtime every day. Even if it is just a few minutes. This can help your dog have something to look forward to and properly tire them out.
If your dog has potty accidents while you are gone, make sure to take them on a 20-minute walk before you leave for the day.
They will usually empty themselves on the walk and last longer without an accident.
The act of walking outside is a stress reliever and anti-depressant for you and your dog.
Walking my Dachshund, Reno, before I left the house seriously made a big difference…No More Accidents.
4. Mental Stimulation
When a dog gets bored, they get anxious and destructive. Your pup needs some brain exercises everyday to feel happy and calm.
Learning Something New: Every week, teach your dog a new trick. Training your pup not only gives them something new to learn, but also gives them one-on-one time with you – which they love!
There are lots of dog training videos on YouTube, or you can try the Puppr Dog training app for your phone to guide your through each step.
Treat Filled Toys: Occasionally, give your dog a frozen peanut butter/dog food Kong toy for breakfast. This can help start their day focused on a yummy Kong treat and not worrying about your exit.
Boredom Buster Dog Toys: Interactive dog toys or puzzles can help your dog use their brain and reduce boredom. I have some great Doggie IQ Puzzles, Activity Mats, and Interactive Tech Dog Toys in our Dog Gift Post for you to check out.
5. Calm Environment
Familiar Room: When you leave for the day, have your dog stay in a gated room where they are most comfortable and familiar. This would be your most active room in your home where you and your dog hang out, play, and do your daily activities.
Note: My Shepherd could jump or climb any gate, so an indoor / outdoor kennel was our personal solution for him.
Calm Sounds: Leave a tv, radio, or a fan on while you are home and before you leave. Listening to familiar sounds can help relieve some anxiety of being alone. Creating a calm environment can be a big help when it comes to keeping an anxious dog relaxed.
Hired Help: If you work full-time or are unable to let your dog out during the day, get some Help – it is so worth it!
Dog Walkers: You can search online for some local dog walkers in your area. I have used the Rover.com app to look up local caregivers to let my dog out when I’m gone for the day.
Doggie Daycare: Some dog owners take their dogs to doggie daycare during work hours.
Dogs can play, socialize with other dogs, and exercise while you are at work. This is a perfect solution for dogs with anxiety.
Dropping your pup off at doggie daycare or hiring some help when you are away will help lower your dog’s anxiety and give you peace of mind.
7. Designated Dog Area
Secure your dog in a safe location away from your household items. Lock up or put away your garbage cans and use some strong dog gates.
My dogs were both kenneled inside for a short time, but kept getting out and making messes. We used the toughest dog kennels that existed! So, we had to come up with another idea.
We lived in the country at the time and didn’t have any dog walker or doggie daycare options nearby. So, we built an indoor / outdoor kennel.
Here is what worked for us: We secured 3 6×8 closed fence panels from our local hardware store and put it up against a door to the back of our garage. We added a doggie door to the garage door, which led to a couple of large dog kennels put together inside the garage.
The dogs found a way to move the inside dog kennels, so we had to use some heavy car tires to keep the kennels against the wall. Then, we had it!
The garage was heated so the dogs could stay warm and dry and still go outside to play or go potty. We had lots of tough rubber jolly balls and dog houses that they could play with in the outside portion of the kennel.
8. Natural Antidotes
You can use natural methods to calm anxiety too. Check out your local pet store for lavender based treats or diffusers that will release a calming lavender scent in the air to help keep your dog feeling safe and calm.
Does CBD Help Dogs with Separation Anxiety?
Yes, in many cases, dog owners have had many positive reactions when treating separation anxiety with a good quality CBD Hemp Oil for dogs.
We use the CBD oil for pets from the online company: Max and Neo CBD. Their CBD oil is made in the USA and have had success with our dogs staying more calm during the day while we are gone.