What Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety happens when a dog who is hyper-attached to his owner gets super-stressed when left alone. It’s more than a little whining when you leave or a bit of mischief while you’re out. It’s a serious condition and one of the main reasons owners get frustrated with their dogs and give them up. But there are plenty of things you can do to help.
First, understand what causes your dog to act this way:w
- Being left alone for the first time or when he’s used to being with people
- Change of ownership
- Moving from a shelter to a home
- Change in family routine or schedule
- Loss of a family member
Signs of Separation Anxiety
A dog who has it shows a lot of stress when he’s alone. He might:
- Howl, bark, or whine to excess
- Have indoor “accidents” even though he’s housebroken
- Chew things up, dig holes, scratch at windows and doors
- Drool, pant, or salivate way more than usual
- Pace, often in an obsessive pattern
- Try to escape
He likely won’t do any of these things to an extreme while you’re around. A normal dog might do some of these things once in a while, but one with separation anxiety will do them almost all the time.
How to Treat Separation Anxiety
First, talk to your vet to rule out any medical problems. Sometimes dogs have accidents in the house because of infections or hormone problems or other health conditions. It also could be due to incomplete housebreaking. And some medications can cause accidents. If your dog takes any drugs, ask your vet if they are to blame.
If the Problem Is Mild…
- Give your dog a special treat each time you leave (like a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter). Only give him this treat when you’re gone, and take it away when you get home.
- Make your comings and goings low-key without a lot of greeting. Ignore your pup for the first few minutes after you get home.
- Leave some recently worn clothes out that smell like you.
- Consider giving your pet over-the-counter natural calming supplements.