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by Suzanne Simard June 24, 2015 10 min read7 Comments
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 products for dog separation anxiety include homeopathic anti-anxiety for dogs and behavioral training. We’ll discuss more of the behavioral training and homeopathic options for dog separation anxiety below.
Does homeopathic product 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 natural product may work. Based on the information you’ve provided and years of training and knowledge, the homeopath can then make a custom product for your dog or a simple homeopathic based package.
We highly recommend our custom product to help your pooch if he suffer from separation anxiety because separation anxiety in dogs (and anxiety in general) can have an inter-mingling of factors. With the custom product, we can combine different homeopathic products into one special formula. Now, isn’t that simply fantastic?!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 products 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 Zumalka for any concerns or questions regarding using homeopathic products for your dog with anxiety. Remember, we are just a few clicks away!
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ANIMAL HEALTH SPECIALIST
Suzanne Simard has loved animals all her life and now being part of the Zumalka family’s ‘Customer Happiness’ team means being able to combine her love of animals and homeopathy all-in-one!
Homeopathy has been a great influence in her own life so she now has full confidence in it’s power to help pets as well.
She also spends a lot of time in underdeveloped countries doing volunteer work. Wherever she goes, animals have always brought her so much joy and satisfaction. Helping them to be happy and healthy is a joy beyond compare.
April 04, 2019
What i do is exercise my dog at least 30 minutes before i leave the house. Just like us the human, when we get tired, we need rest. so a tired dog will quickly go into a resting mode that will relax your dog and divert its attention to either food or sleep
If I am lack of time to exercise my dog, before I leave the house, I will get items or clothes that have my smell for my dog in advance. Just before I leave the house, play specialized soothing dog music (https://cutt.ly/5wzhVx) that helps my dog to relax and slowly fall asleep
Hope the above help
March 29, 2019
Thank you for this separation anxiety. My almost 7 years old whippet. She gets pre anxiety when I get ready to leave the house.. At home very anxiety ridden, follows me until I do leave. I feel terrible I hurt my baby. She looks so sad. My home is dysfunctional and effects her. I live her so much. She was lost 2 years ago. My son lost her in a store parking lot. List 4 nights, I found her 5 days later. Thank you, this is a very sad situation. She will be seeing her vet soon. Will discuss this with her. My cat is the best.
March 29, 2019
When I go up to bed my dog cries until I come down to her. We have space saver stairs so she can’t come to bed with me.
March 29, 2019
hi thanks for the information :)
April 18, 2019
We have rehomed a 9 yr old dog who is an escaper looking for Us I suspect, happens when we are at home when he can’t see or hear us, his background is buddy he grew up with died at xmas last year, relocated back to origInal owner in the family, they moved 3 times from Jan to April when we took over his care. He was fed and watered but not loved. Now he just craves it , lucky our other dog is cool calm and collected. So we are going to have someone help us with training him and hopefully make him a happy boy for his sake and ours. Any tips gratefully received
July 21, 2016
I have two rescue dogs 12 years an 13 they have been together all their live I don’t know what will happen when one is called to doggie heaven do you have any answers
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December 30, 2019
Thank you for sharing the blog related to separation anxiety in dogs. I felt some symptoms in my dog. I think I need to take attention to my dog more. I appreciate your tips.