Almost every dog owner will have to deal with dog separation anxiety at some point in their pup’s life. In fact, we believe that it’s something every dog owner should know more about.
Well, separation anxiety in dogs is more common than you think! It just so happens that most of the time, people are not aware that their pup’s acting up behaviour is actually a sign of dog separation anxiety. So how do you know if your furry friend is experiencing this?
Have you ever encountered the following scenarios?
- You leave home for work and come home to a house that looks like it was hit by a tornado.
- You leave the room for a few minutes and get ‘summoned back by a lot of whining and yelping.
- You place one dog in a separate room (if you have more than one pooch at home) and one or both dogs go berserk.
All of the above are instances of separation anxiety folks!
As you can see, stories about separation anxiety in dogs are usually filled with horror (house becoming a total wreck) or drama (you can’t leave home without the dog) but there are ways with which you can address this and have your life back. Not just that, but your pooch deserves some peace of mind too!
Want to know more? Then continue reading!
Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
No one knows for sure what causes separation anxiety in dogs. Either it is a behavioral problem, or perhaps your dog is naturally prone to anxiety (just like some humans worry about everything!).
There are theories about the development of dog separation anxiety, especially that it has a higher prevalence rate amongst shelter dogs; thereby linking dog separation anxiety to dogs and pups who have lost a significant person in their lives. Of course there are other possible triggers as well. Below is a list of situations and factors which are related to the development of dog separation anxiety.
Change in Routine or Schedule
Perhaps this is the most common trigger of separation anxiety in dogs, even more so if it is an abrupt change. An example of this is if your furkid is used to spending so much time with you but a change in work schedule has affected that.
Change of Family or Change of Guardian
Imagine waking up one day and you’re surrounded by strangers who do not know a thing about you, wouldn’t you cling to the first person who’s treated you nicely as well? This is the typical scenario for shelter dogs and why you need to make sure that you’ve come as close as possible to your perfect match when adopting.
Change in Family Members
Either your son or daughter moved out, someone went to college, you’ve been through a divorce, or any addition or loss of family members… any and all these may trigger the development of separation anxiety in dogs - especially if it involves the next factor…
Change in Residence
Unfamiliar surroundings can make your dog feel that he or she needs to hold on to anything (or anyone) familiar. It really is a matter of comfort and feeling safe.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
A lot of the following may sound too familiar for you, and if that is the case, then your pooch is suffering from some separation anxiety. Take a look at these:
Ever seen a dog act depressed, looking like the weight of the entire world rests on its shoulder? Or perhaps a dog who won’t come near you after you’ve been gone for a while? That’s guilt-tripping, and it is one of the lesser-known symptoms of dog separation anxiety.
Urinating and Defecating
This form of semi-rebellious behavior can mean that the dog is upset from being apart from you. If the dog defecates or urinates in front of you, that is not one of the symptoms of dog separation anxiety.
Over Excitement Once You Get Home
As much as we love watching videos on Youtube of dogs getting ecstatic after meeting up with their significant-humans after a long separation, the over-ecstatic behaviour is not normal if you’ve only been away for a few hours or a day.
Destroying Things and Digging
Chewing on your things, destroying furniture, digging at hallways, clawing at carpets, these are all symptoms of dog separation anxiety. These behaviors can also result in self-injury and must be taken seriously. Please note that if the dog does these things while you are at home, then something else is the problem.
Walking back and forth, in circles, or going repeatedly to the door when you are preparing to leave or once you’re gone may all be symptoms of separation anxiety. If the dog does this while you’re at home just relaxing, then someone needs to go potty!
A dog that keeps trying to escape when you’re gone or when its owner is gone is trying to go after the person who left. Oh, and when the dog does this when the significant human is home, then it can be because of other reasons.
Barking and Howling
Howling is one of the primal ways for dogs and canines to get in touch with family members. It’s like texting your mom, dad, or kid wherever they are (and they howl back – just kidding!). If a dog does this when you’re not around, you’ll have angry neighbors and an upset dog once you get home.
Eww! No one wants to hear about this, but a dog eating poop when his or her favorite person is away is one of the symptoms of dog separation anxiety.
Whew! That’s a lot of symptoms! It is best to help the dog cope with you being away by knowing what to look for, understanding what is going on, and seeking the best treatment options for separation anxiety in dogs. Take a look below for more information on these.
Pros and Cons of Modern Medicine in Treating Anxiety for Dogs
Modern medicine can help your dog deal with separation anxiety, the problem is, you cannot give your dog any of the treatments without consulting a veterinarian. You also won’t have access to the anti-anxiety medications unless your veterinarian prescribes them. As for pros, well, there’s convenience. Just pop a pill and your over-energetic pooch would be so sleepy and ‘well-behaved’. But is it really worth it?
Granted that medications are usually only given in severe cases of dog separation anxiety, the effect on your dog and the effect on your wallet may be a bit too severe in the long run. This is why it is best to consult a veterinary behaviorist before agreeing to medicate your dog; especially since some of the signs and symptoms of dog separation anxiety can be the same signs and symptoms for serious medical conditions.
Perhaps the best thing that modern medicine brings to your pooch is that in severe cases, medication can help your dog stay calm enough so you can start or continue behavioral training. However, other options may be better, depending on your dog’s anxiety level and other problems.
Please keep in mind that it is very rare that modern medicine alone will be enough. Oftentimes, you still need to use lots of behavior modification to help your dog overcome his or her anxiety problems. Most dogs need a combination of behavior modification and medication. The medication will be weaned off later when the dog shows signs of behavioral improvement. For this reason, you’ll need the services of both a vet and a certified animal behaviorist if you choose this route, and that’s not cheap!
If modern medicine is not for you, natural remedies for dog separation anxiety include homeopathic anti-anxiety for dogs and behavioral training. We’ll discuss more of the behavioral training and homeopathic treatments for dog separation anxiety below.
Homeopathic Anti-Anxiety for dogs
Does homeopathic anti-anxiety work for dogs? Yes it does! But how?
The homeopath will usually interview you or ask questions about your pet. This can involve some more research and follow-up questions so that the homeopath can understand what is wrong and what remedy may work. Based on the information you’ve provided and years of training and knowledge, the homeopath can then make a custom remedy for your dog or a simple homeopathic anti-anxiety package.
We highly recommend our custom remedy to help treat your pooch’s separation anxiety because separation anxiety in dogs (and anxiety in general) can have an inter-mingling of factors. With the custom remedy, we can combine different homeopathic remedies into one special formula that will help your furry best friend at a fraction of what you would spend if you opt for modern medical treatments. Now, isn’t that simply fantastic?!
Great Behavioral Solutions for Dog Separation Anxiety
Depending on how severe your dog’s separation anxiety is, behavioral solutions may help. The first step is to determine when is it that your dog starts to manifest signs of separation anxiety. Does it start when you’re preparing to leave (pre-departure onset) or when you’re already gone? From here, you can choose which suggestions may help you below:
If you notice your dog starting to get excited, worried, or sick when you begin to get ready for work or leaving the house, changing your ritual may help. Some dogs begin whining, crying as if in pain, pacing, running all over, or barking the moment you show signs of leaving home. It might be ‘cute’ to think that your furry friend loves you so much that the thought of you never coming back makes him or her crazy. But hey, imagine feeling that way every time someone leaves the house. That’s not cute at all!
Here’s how you can help. Try to teach your dog that getting your keys, putting on your coat, or changing your clothes doesn’t always mean that you’re be leaving. The way you can do this is by exposing your pooch to these cues several times a day (and staying home). For instance, you can go put on your hat or lipstick, get your keys and bag, and then watch TV. Perhaps you can put on your coat and then go to the bedroom to hang out. The dog will then realize that these ‘actions’ don’t always lead to you leaving and he or she will still get to spend time with you.
Just a word of warning though, this is not a one-day-miracle. Your furbaby has learned your leaving-the-home cues over many years, months, or weeks. It is only fair to give your dog a few weeks to adjust to your ‘new’ routine.
Okay, once your dog is fine with you going through your pre-departure rituals, or if your dog only experiences separation anxiety when you’re gone, then the next behavioral solution may work.
Graduated Absences and Graduated Departures
From the name alone, it is easy to see what this entails – you have to train your dog to be okay with you being gone for long and longer periods of time.
How? The idea is to get your furbaby accustomed to you not being in his or her line of sight at all times. For example, if your dog is used to you being in the same room all the time, you can ask your dog to stay on the other side of the door while you continue doing your things. From there, you can move on to spending hours away from each other in different rooms of the house. You can let your dog hear your voice at the initial stages but the idea is to reassure your dog that just because he or she cannot see you, it does not mean that you’re never ever coming back.
You can even make this into a game until the dog is fine with you being somewhere else and out of sight. The key is a lot of patience and starting very slowly…from being gone for a few seconds, to a few minutes, moving on to a few hours.
Mind Your Manners!
For both of the behavioral solutions described above to work, you will have to lessen the contrast between you being gone and you being home. Try not to get your dog too excited the moment you walk in through the door when getting home.
Rather than praising your dog when he or she jumps up on you or shows signs of extra excitement and happiness, be as calm as possible and only give the dog some attention when he or she has calmed down. This will teach your furkid that running around and jumping up and down is not the polite way to greet you when you get home. That’s how dogs and wolves teach their pups, so it won’t hurt to try!
Will Dog Separation Anxiety Ever Go Away?
It would be misleading to say that dog separation anxiety will go away 100%, but with the help of homeopathic anti-anxiety for dogs, positive reinforcement, behavioral training, and lots of love, dog separation anxiety can be managed nicely. Yes, even to the point of none-existence!
Separation Anxiety in Dogs – The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful
Oh my! We know how difficult dog separation anxiety is for pet parents and it’s not fun!
Too often, pet parents feel like they are not giving their furry friend enough attention it starts showing symptoms of dog separation anxiety. We hope that through this article, you’ve learned that you’re not to blame for such behavioural displays and that there are options you can try to help you out.
From natural homeopathic remedies to behavioral training, we’ve given you the information you need so that you can better understand what your dog is going through.
We guess that if your dog is indeed manifesting dog separation anxiety, it does have a positive note. Serious medical conditions can also cause the same symptoms as anxiety in dogs, and hence, dog separation anxiety is the lesser evil so to speak.
Can we recommend anything? We’ll go for the homeopathic route! You’re free to contact us at HomeoAnimal for any concerns or questions regarding using homeopathic remedies for your dog’s anxiety. Remember, we are just a few clicks away!
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