How to Deal with Dog Separation Anxiety

Dog separation anxiety may be seen in dogs that have been abandoned by previous owners, but may also be common in dogs that didn’t have traumatic experiences. Separation anxiety will manifest through whining and howling when you leave your pet and even unacceptable behavior such as aggressiveness or chewing. Dealing with your pet’s separation anxiety is important to prevent the development of destructive behaviors.

Causes of Separation Anxiety

Some dogs may suffer from separation anxiety due to the fact that they have been abandoned in the past and they fear that this will happen again.

However, dogs get attached to their owners and when you leave, your dog may fear that you will leave him behind.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

If your dog has separation anxiety, he will display the followings:

  • A change in behavior when you leave
  • Whining, howling and barking, even when you leave the room
  • Chewing and destroying furniture while you are gone

Dealing with Separation Anxiety

When dealing with a dog with separation anxiety, you must be ready to train him. The training will require repetition, so that you get the best results.

Ideally, you should train your puppy from the first days the desired behavior; correcting undesirable behavior may be more difficult.

Change Your Routine When You Leave the House

The separation anxiety manifests when you leave the house. Your dog may start howling even before you leave, as he sees that you are preparing and he may also sense the agitation. For this reason, you will have to change your routine and make sure your dog will not notice that you are preparing. You should gradually reduce the interaction with your dog prior to leaving, as this should decrease the dog’s anxiety.

You may also hide in a room while you get dressed or make other preparations and leave the dog with a treat or his favorite toy, so he will be distracted.

Means of Distraction

When you are leaving, your dog needs to be distracted, so that he will not be stressed.

You can give your dog a task such as looking for a toy that you hide in the house or give your pet a larger chew toy or treat. Make sure this activity will take up more than 10 minutes.

In this manner, your dog may associate your departure with a fun activity and he may no longer manifest separation anxiety.

Leave the TV On

Leaving the TV or the radio on while you are away may make your pet feel more comfortable. Even if the pet will not see or hear you, listening to other people speak will make him more at ease and he will be less likely to develop destructive behaviors.

You may also prepare a tape (a video or audio recording), which you start when you are about the leave. The dog will see familiar faces and hear familiar voices, so he will not be stressed. Make sure you put the tape on repeat.