Separation anxiety in dogs can make you, the dog’s owner, feel bad. As soon as you leave the house, your dog yells and scratches at the door. Every time you pick up your keys and put on your coat, your dog will start to get out of hand. As long as you are away, your dog will chew on your furniture, poop on your carpet, and dig holes in your yard. The list goes on and on.
Even though this can be very upsetting, you should know that it can significantly impact your life. The only time you might be able to go on vacation or leave the house alone is when you’re at work. You might not be able to go on vacation or leave the house alone except when you’re at work. Your whole life is centered around the dog without someone to dog-sit, which is not OK.
That’s why your dog is afraid of being alone. The first thing to do is learn about the two main types of separation anxiety.
1) Anxiety: This is shown by whining, howling, quick breathing, and snorting, as well as uncontrollable spins. It’s also a common sign of anxiety if you chew too much on everything. As someone is nervous, they might move their feet or walk around a fence line or near their windows.
2) Insecurity: This kind of separation anxiety in dogs usually manifests itself by peeing and pooping on the floor while you’re away. Even though this type of behavior isn’t unique to the insecure dog with separation anxiety, it is the most common. You don’t feel safe if your dog pees on the floor when you’re putting on your coat and getting ready to leave. The dog curls its head around to the back while you’re getting ready to go. This makes the shape of a “U.”
Now that you know the two leading causes of separation anxiety in dogs, the next step is to figure out how to fix it. How do you go about that, though?
First of all, dogs don’t get stressed out when away from their owners. There is a reason why your dog is afraid and nervous: how you treat it as its owner. If you treat your dog like your best friend, baby, or equal partner, you’ll make the worst mistake you can as a dog owner. Dogs are man’s best friend no matter what kind of dog you own, even mutts. They do an excellent job for humans, and humans reward them with food, shelter, and even life.
Because of this simple fact, dogs have become very good at watching us, humans. They know how we feel because of our tone of voice, body language, and the energy we show through our body language and words. When they watch us, they learn how to control us. The way they will get what they want is to play us. They will try to get food, attention, and exercise from us. They’re very good at it, though. Because you care about your dog, you give in too quickly because you care about them, but when it comes to dogs, your feelings don’t matter. There is only a leader and follower.
There is no way to say that dogs have human feelings because dogs don’t feel anything. It’s essential to tell dogs what to do and how to do it. Your dog is following you. You are in charge. When you start paying attention to the dog, the dog takes on an unwelcome role – the leader, which is not what you want.
They care more about how cute the dog is when they get a puppy or an adult dog. Most people who get a dog want to have a friend or fill a void. However, dogs only think humans are weak when they think, “you’re so cute” or “I feel bad for you.”
What does this have to do with dogs afraid of being alone? Everything. Here are a few things that can make dogs anxious when they are alone:
The dog sleeps with you at night.
People cuddle with their dogs as soon as they get home. They pet their dogs right away, feed them and greet them.
You never correct your dog: you think it’s “mean,” because you don’t want to hurt your dog physically or hurt your dog’s feelings, or because your dog is “cute.” Also, even though you may try to control your dog, you do it a lot and weakly.
In this case, you don’t play with your dog for at least 45 minutes every day.
As the owner, these simple things that you do can make your dog very afraid of being alone. The only way to get it done is to be the leader. Keep your dog away from you at night. Instead, buy your dog a bed or crate and let it sleep in the hallway.
Make sure you don’t pet or pick up your dog when you get home from work or when you’ve been out for the day. Feed and cuddle with your dog instead. Instead, it would help if you made your dog sit down and calm down. It’s best not to pay attention to your dog until it has calmly walked away. Then, and only then, can you show love? This makes your dog less reliant on you and more reliant on itself.
When your dog does something that you think is bad, correct it every time, not just when you get angry. Your dog should never hear you yell at him or tell him to stop doing something. It would help if you never did this when sore or tired.
Above all, play with your dog. Exercise is the most important thing you can do to help your dog deal with being away from you, especially when it comes to chewing, peeing, pooping, and barking. Fish need to swim, and birds need to fly. Dogs need to walk, too. There is a problem with many dog owners because they don’t want to exercise their dogs the way it needs to be done. On the other hand, dogs can’t use cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol to satisfy their cravings. Instead, they chew, bark, howl, and become anxious when alone.
A 45-minute walk every day, without skipping a day, will help your dog get over its fear of being alone. As Caesar Milan, better known as “The Dog Whisperer,” always says, “Exercise, discipline, and love – in that order.” Afterward, you have to make your dog do something for you, like get food or be petted or cuddled or do something else to show that you love them. If your dog is tired and well-behaved and doesn’t have any extra energy, it won’t be afraid to be alone.
Instead of wondering if your dog has separation anxiety and what you can do about it, you should first look at yourself. Many people pay too much attention to their dogs, don’t give them a chance to get enough exercise, and don’t discipline their dogs when they do bad things.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
The following is a list of possible signs of separation anxiety:
There are two things that people do when they have to urinate and defecate:
It can happen to some dogs when they are left alone or when their owners are not around. If a dog urinates or defecates in front of its owner, it’s not likely that he has separation anxiety.
Barking and howling are two ways to show that you are excited.
Some dogs get very stressed when left alone, and they may bark and howl when they are not with their owners. This kind of barking or howling doesn’t stop, and it doesn’t seem to be caused by anything except being left on its own.
Chewing, digging, and destroying things
When they are alone or not with their owners, some dogs with separation anxiety chew on things, such as door frames or window sills, dig at doors and doorways, or destroy things in their homes. This can cause broken teeth, cut and scraped paws, and damaged nails. Separation anxiety can cause a dog to chew, dig, and destroy things when its owner is around.
An anxious dog might try to get out of an area where he’s been kept when he’s alone or away from his owner. If the dog tries to dig or chew through a door or window, they could get hurt, like broken teeth, cut and scraped front paws, and damaged nails. If the dog is afraid of being alone, he doesn’t do this when his owner is around.
They walk or trot in a certain way when alone or when they aren’t with their people. They move around in circles, but some pacing dogs also step back and forth in a straight line. This is how it works: If your dog’s pacing is caused by separation anxiety, it doesn’t happen when his owner is around.
Some dogs defecate and then eat all or some of their waste when left alone or when their owners aren’t around. If a dog eats excrement because of separation anxiety, he probably doesn’t do that in front of his owner.
There is no conclusive evidence that shows why dogs become anxious when they are alone. If a dog has this problem because it was adopted from a shelter, it is thought that the loss of a significant person or group of people in the dog’s life can cause separation anxiety. However, this isn’t always the case. Other changes that aren’t as big can also cause the disorder. The following is a list of things that have been linked to separation anxiety.
Change of guardian or family member
Separation anxiety can be caused by being abandoned, given to a shelter, or given to a new guardian or family.
It has been changed.
It can happen if a dog’s schedule suddenly changes when and how long it’s alone. This can make the dog more afraid of being alone. People who work from home and spend all day with their dogs may have separation anxiety if they get a new job and leave their dog alone for six or more hours.
Change of Place of Birth
Moving to a new place can make people feel anxious about leaving their old home.
Changes in the Family Membership
Separation anxiety can start to form when a family member moves away, dies, or moves to a new place.
Medical Problems to Check Out First Before You Treat Them
Incontinence that is caused by medical issues
When a dog has incontinence, his bladder leaks or is emptied, this can cause a dog to soil the house. Dogs with incontinence problems often don’t know that they’ve messed up. Sometimes they pee while they’re asleep. There are a lot of medical issues that can cause dogs to have urinary incontinence. These include a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, neurological problems, and abnormalities of the genitalia. Before you try to change your dog’s behavior for separation anxiety, see your dog’s veterinarian make sure there aren’t any medical problems.
There are a lot of medications that can make you pee a lot and make your house dirty. If your dog is taking any medications, you should talk to his veterinarian to see if they could be making him more likely to soil the house.
There are other behavior problems to rule out as well.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a dog has separation anxiety. Some of the most common behavior problems can have the same symptoms. The following behavior problems should be ruled out before concluding that your dog is afraid of being apart from you.
Urination that is Submissive or Excited
A few dogs may urinate when they meet, play with each other, or are being reprimanded. During interactions, these dogs are more likely to show submissive postures, like lowering their tails, putting their ears back against their heads, crouching or rolling over, and exposing their belly.
Completion of House Training
A dog who sometimes pees in the house might not be ultimately house trained. His house training may have been inconsistent, or it may have been punished in a way that made him afraid to go to the bathroom when his owner was around.
This is how urine is marked.
Several dogs urinate inside their homes because they smell things and want to show their scents. Small amounts of urine are used to leave scent marks on vertical surfaces by a dog. Most male dogs and some female dogs who scent mark raise their paws to urinate when they want to do so.
Many young dogs like to chew or dig when their owners are home and when they’re away. Destructive Chewing is an excellent place to look for more information about this.
Leaving your dog alone can make them a nuisance because they’re bored and want to do something. These dogs don’t usually show signs of stress.
Barking or howling too much
There is a good chance they’ll say something when their parents are home and when they’re away. Our articles on barking and howling can help you learn more about this kind of problem, so please check those out.
What to do if your dog is afraid of being alone
Treatment for a mild case of separation anxiety
In some cases, counterconditioning might help your dog get used to being alone. People use this treatment to change an animal’s scared, anxious, or aggressive behavior into a more pleasant. When a dog sees or hears something it doesn’t like, it associates it with something it wants. Over time, the dog learns that what he’s afraid of is good for him. Counterconditioning is used to help dogs with separation anxiety learn to associate being alone with good things, like tasty food. You can help your dog form this connection by giving him a puzzle toy stuffed with food every time you leave the house. It should take him at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish. It could be low-fat cream cheese, peanut butter spray, spray cheese, or frozen banana and cottage cheese in a KONG®. It could also be canned dog food and kibble. KONG can even be frozen so that your dog has to spend even more time getting the food out. Dogs love unique toys but don’t leave them around when you’re home, so make sure they’re out of reach when he’s alone. Your dog’s daily meals can be fed to him in fun toys. A KONG filled with his breakfast and some tasty treats can be given to your dog every morning before you go to work. It’s essential to keep in mind that this method will only work for mild cases of separation anxiety because anxious dogs don’t eat when their owners aren’t home.
Treatment for Separation Anxiety that is moderate to severe
A more complicated desensitization and counterconditioning program is needed for people who have moderate or severe separation anxiety. In these cases, it’s essential to gradually get a dog used to being alone by starting with many short separations that don’t make the dog nervous and then gradually increasing the length of the forks over many weeks of daily walks.
We’ll discuss a desensitization and counterconditioning plan in the next few steps. Please keep in mind that this is just a short, general explanation.
Desensitization and counterconditioning are very complicated and can be hard to do, so they can be hard to understand and do. Fear must be avoided, or the dog will become even more afraid. The procedure will not work if the dog is worried. A trained and experienced professional is needed to help the pet through desensitization and counterconditioning. Because the pet’s reactions can be hard to read and understand, the professional should be in charge of the process. An animal behaviorist qualified to work with animals can help you make a desensitization and counterconditioning plan. They can also help you find an animal behaviorist prepared to work with animals (Dip ACVB). A Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) can help your dog if you can’t find a behaviorist. Make sure the trainer can help you. Check if they have had training and experience in desensitization and counterconditioning to treat fear since this isn’t required for CPDT certification. Our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, can help you find one of these people in your area.
Step One: Before You Leave.
People who are leaving their dogs can make them nervous. It could be that his owner starts to put on makeup and shoes and then pick up a bag or car keys. The dog might start to pace or whine when he sees this. Your dog should not show any signs of stress when you are about to leave him alone. You can skip stepping two below. Dogs who get stressed out during pre-departure rituals can’t be left alone for even a few seconds without causing them to be very afraid. When you go, your dog may see signs that you’re leaving, like you putting on your coat or picking up your keys. He may get so stressed out about being alone that he can’t control himself and forgets that you’ll come back soon.
Getting your keys or coat on doesn’t always mean you’re leaving. This “pre-departure anxiety” is one way to get your dog used to this. If you don’t want to leave your dog, you can show him these cues in different forms several times a day without leaving. Put on your boots and coat, then just stay in the house and watch TV. Take your keys, then sit down at the kitchen table. If you do this, your dog will not be as stressed out because these cues won’t always mean that you’re leaving, and so your dog won’t get so excited when he sees them. It’s essential to keep in mind that your dog has learned the significance of your departure cues over many years. For your dog to know that the lines no longer mean that you’ll be away for a long time, your dog must experience the fake cues many times a day for many weeks. You can move on to the next step below when your dog doesn’t get scared when he sees you about to leave.
Step Two: Gradual Departures and Absences
Start with very short departures if your dog doesn’t get very nervous before leaving. Plan your absences to be faster than when your dog needs to get angry. This is the main rule. To start, teach your dog to stay out of sight near an inside door in your home, like the bathroom. You can train your dog to sit or lay down and stay while going through the bathroom door. You can also ask a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for help. CPDTs can help you find one in your area by reading our article, “Finding Professional Behavior Help.” which gradually increases how long it takes to get out of your dog’s sight and get back into the house. Wait on the other side of the door. Also, you can work on teaching your dog what it means to leave as you work on the stay. Then you can ask your dog to stay. Then, you put on your coat, pick up your purse, and go into the bathroom while your dog stays.
Eventually, you’ll do out-of-sight stay exercises at a bedroom door and then at an exit. If you always leave through the front door, start with the activities at the back door. Do them there first. He should be calm when you start working with him at exit doors because he has played the “stay game.”
At this point, you can start taking very short breaks from your training. Initially, you should only be away from your dog for a few seconds at a time. Then, you should gradually increase the amount of time you’re away—Build-in counterconditioning by giving your dog a food-stuffed toy just before leaving the house. The food-stuffed toy tells the dog this is a “safe” way to get away as a safety cue.
Wait a few minutes between breaks during your lessons. In the end, it’s essential to make sure your dog is entirely calm before you leave again. Your dog will be excited when you return from the last separation if you leave right away. When he gets excited, he might not be able to handle the following separation as well, which could make the problem worse rather than better.
Think about how you behave when you go outside and come inside. To make the difference between when you’re there and when you’re not, do this:
You have to figure out when your dog can handle an increase in the time you are apart. Each dog reacts differently, so there are no set times. When to let your dog spend more time alone can be very hard, and many pet owners make mistakes. They want treatment to go quickly, so they expose their dogs to too long of a period, which makes them more stressed and makes the problem worse. To avoid making this mistake, look for signs of stress in your dog. These could be signs like dilated pupils, panting, yawning, drooling, trembling, pacing, and a very excited greeting. It’s best to stop and shorten the length of your trips if you notice that your dog is stressed. It’s then time for a new start at that level.
To get your dog used to being alone for 40 minutes, you’ll need to build up to it. Most of your dog’s anxious reactions will happen in the first 40 minutes that he’s alone. In other words, over weeks of training, you’ll gradually increase the length of your departures by only a few seconds each time you train or every couple of times, depending on how well your dog can handle each level. When your dog can stay away from you for 40 minutes, you can start to go away for more extended periods (5-minute increments at first, then later 15-minute increments). The first time your dog is alone for 90 minutes, he should be able to stay for four to eight hours. Try leaving him alone for four hours at first, then work up to eight total hours over a few days.
If you can have several daily sessions on the weekends and two daily sessions during the workweek, you can finish this treatment process in a few weeks. You should have sessions before you leave for work and at the end of the day during the workweek.
A Necessary Part of Treatment for Separation Anxiety
During desensitization to any fear, it is essential to ensure that your dog never sees or hears the full-blown version of what makes him anxious or afraid. A low-intensity version that does not scare him must be the only thing he sees or does. Otherwise, he won’t be able to learn how to be calm and comfortable in situations that make him angry or stressed. When your dog has separation anxiety, you can’t leave him alone except when you have desensitization sessions. Fortunately, there are a lot of other ways to do things:
People sometimes take their dogs to work with them.
You can have a family member or friend come to your house and stay with your dog when you can’t. Most dogs with separation anxiety are OK when someone is around as long as they have someone to stay with them. That person doesn’t have to be you.
Go to a babysitter or doggy daycare and let your pet stay there while you are at work.
People who have a dog afraid of alone often leave them in a car. Try leaving your dog in the car when the weather isn’t too hot. It’s important to know that dogs can get heatstroke and die if left in vehicles in hot weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit and up). Even a few minutes in a hot car can be dangerous for them. Keep your dog out of the car unless you know that the inside of your vehicle won’t get hot.
You should also practice your graduated absences. When you say hello and goodbye, you should do so very calmly. Make sure to pat your dog on the head, say goodbye, and leave. You should say hello to your dog when you get home. Then, wait until he’s calm and relaxed before you pay any more attention to him until he is. The amount of time it takes for your dog to calm down when you get home will depend on how stressed he is and how he acts. To make your dog less excited when you come home, you might want to ask him to do simple things he’s already learned, like sit, down, or shake.
To pack or not to pack?
If a dog learns that the crate is their safe place to go when alone, crate training can be good for them. However, for some dogs, the box can make them even more stressed and anxious, so they don’t like it. To figure out if you should use a crate, keep an eye on your dog’s behavior while being trained in a box and while you’re home. Putting him in a container isn’t the best way to deal with him if he shows signs of being stressed (heavy panting, excessive salivation, frantic escape attempts, persistent howling or barking). A baby gate can keep your dog in one room instead of a crate.
Give Your Dog a lot of “jobs” to do.
Many types of behavior problems, especially those that involve anxiety, can be treated by giving people a lot of physical and mental stimulation. Exercising your dog’s mind and body can make him happier less stressed and give him a way to deal with normal dog behaviors healthily. When a dog is physically and mentally exhausted, he doesn’t have a lot of extra energy to use when he’s alone. Take a look at these ideas:
During at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, run or swim with your dog. It’s a good idea to exercise your dog right before you have to leave him on his own. This might help him relax and rest while you’re away. It might also help him sleep.
Play games like fetch and tug-of-war with your dog.
Take your dog for walks and trips every day. Take different routes and go to new places as often as possible so that he can smell and see new things.
If your dog likes other dogs, let him play with them without a leash.
Often, food puzzle toys are available. If you want to feed your dog, you can put some peanut butter, cheese, or yogurt in these toys. Also, give your dog various tasty and not-so-tasty things to chew on. Puzzle toys and chew items make dogs want to chew and lick, which has been shown to calm them down. Take care of them whenever your dog is alone.
When you leave, hide small piles of your dog’s kibble around your house or yard. This will make your dog want to “hunt” for his food. They love this game!
You can do this by taking a reward-based training class. This will help your dog become more mentally active and strengthen your relationship with your dog. If you want to learn new skills and play games with your dog, contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. They can offer group or private classes to help you and your dog. The more skills you and your dog learn together, the more tired your dog will be when you leave him alone. You can do this by practicing the skills right before you go. CPDTs can help you find one in your area. Please read our article, “Finding Professional Behavior Help.”
Become a part of some dog sports, like agility, freestyle (dancing with your dog), or flyball.
Medicines may help.
Before giving your dog any kind of medicine for a behavior problem, always talk to your veterinarian or a veterinarian behaviorist.
Medications can be beneficial, especially for people who have a lot of separation anxiety. Some dogs are so upset when they are separated from their owners that treatment can’t be done without the help of medicine. Anti-anxiety medication can help a dog be alone for a short time without becoming anxious. It can also speed up the progress of treatment, which can be good.
On rare occasions, a dog with mild separation anxiety might benefit from drug therapy alone without having to change its behavior. The dog gets used to being alone with the help of the drug, and he keeps this new behavior even after he’s gradually stopped taking medicine. However, most dogs need both medication and behavior changes.
You should first talk to your veterinarian, a behaviorist, or someone certified in animal behavior who can work with your veterinarian. Please read our article, “Finding Professional Behavior Help,” to find a professional in your area who can help you.
Avoid these things:
You should not scold or punish your dog. They are not caused by disobedience or spite. They are signs of distress! When you leave your dog alone, he shows anxiety because he’s stressed and upset. If you punish him, he might get even angrier, worsening the problem.
5 Ways to Keep Your Dog From Being Separated from You Proactive Exposure Training and Anxiety Socialization Set Up a Safe Confinement Zone for Your Dog or Crate Train It. Teach your dog to be self-sufficient. Maintain a low-key approach to your arrivals and departures. Provide both physical and mental stimulation.
Spend time training frequently and regularly, not simply once a week in a class. Demonstrate to your dog what you expect from him in and around the house, as well as during regular activities. There's a two-minute break here and a five-minute break there. Not simply going for a stroll, but also training him to sit at curbsides and while meeting new people and dogs as you go.
Common Separation Symptoms Anxiety Urinating and defecating are two different things. When left alone or removed from their guardians, some dogs urinate or defecate. Howling and barking Chewing, Digging, and Destruction are all activities that involve chewing, digging, and destruction. Escaping. Pacing. Coprophagia. A change of guardian or family is required. A schedule change has occurred.
The Labrador Retriever is one of the dog breeds that has a lot of separation anxiety. The Border Collie is a breed of dog. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a kind of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Jack Russell Terrier is a breed of dog. German Shepherd is a breed of dog. Shepherd dog from Australia. Bichon Frise is a breed of dog. Vizsla.
Getting your dog used to being left alone The first step is to stay in bed. Begin by encouraging your dog to go to their bed and stay there for a brief period of time while you are there in the room with them. Step 2: Get out of the path. Step 3: Increase the distance and duration of the workout. Step 4: Get out of the room. Step 5: Experiment with extended amounts of time.
Establish a dependable daily regimen. Make it a habit to exercise on a daily basis. When you go, leave the TV or radio on. Give him a toy that is a food puzzle. Desensitize him to the fact that you're departing. Don't make a big deal out of your departure. When you go home, don't make a big fuss about it. Train with crates.
While another dog may make your dog feel less lonely, the presence of another dog is unlikely to affect your dog's behavior if he suffers from separation anxiety. In some situations, adding another dog might exacerbate the problem.
It affects the majority of canines between the ages of 9 and 12. Separation anxiety, on the other hand, if left untreated, may last a lifetime and be a crippling ailment for the dogs that suffer from it.
As a general rule, an adult dog can be left alone for up to four to six hours every day. This amount, however, can fluctuate greatly depending on a variety of circumstances, including The Education of Your Dog
Dogs and cats should not be left alone for longer than 4-6 hours at a stretch. Hire a petsitter if your dog suffers from anxiety when left alone or if he or she has not been properly trained to spend time alone in the house.