Separation Anxiety is a condition that causes dogs to literally freak out when their owner leaves 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 super stressful.
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 certain dog breeds more prone to this behavior as well.
Keep in mind: Dogs are pack animals.
They have a strong desire to be with and protect their owner and family. When they are left alone, some dogs panic and become destructive.
Common Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety
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 dogs had all of the Separation Anxiety symptoms listed above!
Our shepherd would bark, drool, get out of his kennel, chew the door knobs, door frames, and stairs. (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.
Reno, my dachshund, would bark, whine, chew the door of his kennel, poo inside his kennel and spread it all over the place. It was awful!
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 house destroying 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 the house. Dogs don’t like being left 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 in the house 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 the house 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 the dog right when you arrive home at least for 3-5 minutes.
Then, let your dog outside to go potty without making a big fuss. Make it a normal, calm routine when letting him outside.
If your dog has potty accidents in the kennel or the house, 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 in the house 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. Keeping Occupied
Interactive dog toys or puzzles can help your dog stay mentally stimulated so you don’t have to worry about them getting bored and destructive while you are gone.
I added some great Doggie IQ Puzzles, Activity Mats, and Interactive Tech Dog Toys in our Dog Gift Post for you to check out.
These Boredom Buster toys will help keep your pup occupied for hours while you are away.
Treat Filled Toys: Another great idea is to give your dog a frozen peanut butter / dog food filled Kong toy for breakfast before you leave. This can help distract them while you scoot out the door.
Tip: If you catch your dog in the act of destroying something in the home, don’t go back inside your house! This will reinforce this behavior and they will continue to destroy something to get you to come back home.
5. Calm Environment
Leave a tv, radio, or a fan on 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.
6. Hire A Dog Walker
Hired Help: If you work full-time or are unable to let your dog out during the day, get some Help.
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. It comes with lots of reviews and is super easy to use.
You could even ask your friendly “stay at home mom” or retired neighbor if they want to earn some extra money for letting your dog out.
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. Perfect!
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 that are getting destroyed.
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 Home Depot for the outside kennel portion 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 to get out and wreak havoc in the garage, so we had to use car tires to weight 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 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.
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.