How to Handle a Dog with Separation Anxiety

Many dogs, like humans, struggle when they are not with the one they love. Dogs can form an intense bond with their owner, and it causes them intense anxiety when they have to spend time without that person. This isn’t a problem if you only go out for short durations and your neighbors are understanding, but if your dog tries to break down a door to get to you when you take a shower, you need to address the problem.

What Causes Separation Anxiety?

Rescue dogs are prone to separation anxiety. They have experienced a lot of stress in their lives, and they may even have been abandoned by a heartless former owner. These dogs then form a close bond with the next person who shows them love and affection, which leads to intense separation anxiety.

It isn’t just rescue dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. Any sensitive dog can have issues. Sometimes, problems begin when the dog is rehomed or the family moves to a new house. Living in an unfamiliar environment causes stress and anxiety, and before long, the dog can’t bear it if you leave him to go to the store. Some dogs start having issues when a family member dies or leaves.

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Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety get very stressed when their owner leaves them. They may bark, howl and cry, show signs of extreme agitation, become destructive, chew furniture, urinate and defecate. Some dogs will do their utmost to escape and find their owner, even it means chewing through a door.

This behavior can happen very quickly – as soon as a few minutes after you leave the dog. Not surprisingly, it’s bad for the dog and not great for the owner and his home!

Coping with Separation Anxiety

It is very important to rule out any medical problems first. Defecating and urinating in the house are not necessarily behavioral issues. They could be caused by an underlying medical issue. Ask your vet to run some basic tests to rule out any problems before you take steps to tackle his separation anxiety.

Bear in mind also that many dogs, especially younger animals, get bored when left home alone. This leads to destructive behavior and excessive barking and howling.

In mild cases of separation anxiety, try leaving the radio on and giving your dog some tasty treats to keep him occupied. Buy him a Kong toy and stuff it full of something delicious such as peanut butter. Since it will take him a while to get to all the treats, so he might not notice you have left him.

However, this approach won’t work with a very anxious dog. In this instance, you will need to try other approaches. Look for safe CBD products for pets. CBD oil is very effective at calming anxious dogs. Some dogs also respond well to anti-anxiety vests, such as Thundershirts. 

If these methods don’t have any effect, you may need to consult an animal behaviorist. Ask your vet for a recommendation.

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