5 Tips for Managing Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Managing separation anxiety in your dog can be difficult for both you and your furry friend.

Oct 28, 2023byShannon Whitlock
tips managing separation anxiety in dogs

As a responsible dog owner, you want the best for your pooch, especially when you’re not there to ease their worries. There are several things you can try, though, from herbal supplements to seeking out a dog behaviorist, so don’t despair. There’s always a solution.

How to Recognize the Signs of Separation Anxiety

sad dog window

There are several signs to look out for if you think your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. These may include some or all of the following:

  • Howling or barking when you’re away
  • Having accidents when they’re alone in the house, even though they’re housetrained
  • Destructive behavior, such as chewing furniture or clawing at carpets
  • Panting or drooling more than normal
  • Pacing
  • Trying to escape

Of course, these behaviors will happen when you’re not around, so it can be difficult to know if your dog is displaying any of these signs.

My first tip is to set up a camera of some sort and record them when you’re not around. If you notice any of the above behaviors when your dog is home alone, it’s likely that they’re suffering from separation anxiety.

Why Do Dogs Suffer from Separation Anxiety?

sad dog on sofa

Separation anxiety can occur in dogs of all ages. It’s a serious condition that needs attention.

The first step is understanding what could have triggered this behavior. Some reasons could be:

  • They are new to a family, either as a puppy OR they are a rescue
  • There’s been a change in the family
  • They are not used to being left alone
  • There’s been a change in routine

No matter the cause, your dog will need help managing their separation anxiety. It can cause unnecessary stress for you and your dog whenever you need to leave them alone. I have several tips which should help ease your dog’s worries.

Leave a Special Toy

dog chew bone

Bring out a mentally stimulating toy whenever you’re going out. This could be something that you can stuff treats into, a flavored chew toy, or a DIY cognitive puzzle. Only give it to your dog when you’re leaving them home alone, and hopefully, they’ll start to associate the toy with you leaving. The treats they get out of the toy will be a positive association, and they won’t be as anxious.

Play Music or Calming Sounds

dog asleep floor

One of the triggers for a dog left home alone is outside noises. Whether that’s people walking past the house or hearing your neighbors in the yard, this can set your dog off. Playing music at a low volume can distract them from those unknown sounds. You can also find several “calming dog” playlists on the internet or music streaming services.

Introduce Herbal Supplements

dog cbd supplement

When I rescued my dog, Eddie, he had been in a pound before our local rescue took him in. He’d been abandoned so many times before, and he was scared that we would do the same thing. Through my research, I found that herbal supplements could help their overall temperament.

We introduced an herbal supplement to his diet. He has one a day with his breakfast, and he’s been taking it for around six weeks. There seems to have been an improvement in his anxiety, and as a result, he’s not as worried when we leave him at home alone.

There are a lot of brands available out there, do your research and choose one that you think is right for your dog. They do recommend waiting eight weeks to see if there’s an improvement in a dog’s behavior. so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t work right away.

Bring in a Crate

dog in crate

A lot of dog owners don’t believe in crate training, but I have to say, this is one of the things that really helped my dog when we had to leave him at home. He was crate-trained when we rescued him, but we abandoned the crate not long after he came to live with us. That was a mistake.

It seems that Eddie prefers to be in his own space when he’s alone, I think having the whole house to himself was overwhelming. We’ve put his bed inside as well as some toys and covered 3 sides with a blanket to make him feel protected and safe.

It’s up to you whether or not you crate-train your dog, but it was successful for us, and I’d recommend it to any owner who is having problems leaving their dog at home.

See a Dog Behaviorist

sad dog laptop

If none of the above works, it’s time to seek professional advice.

Go to your vet and speak to them about your problem. They should be able to refer you to a clinical animal behaviorist or trainer who deals with this kind of behavior on a regular basis. They’ll go through the behavior your dog is displaying, ask you what you’ve already tried and come up with a plan that will suit you and your dog.

Following these tips, you should be able to get your dog’s separation anxiety under control. Both you and your dog will be happier in the long run.

Shannon Whitlock
byShannon Whitlock

Shannon has grown up with dogs and recently entered the world of dog ownership by adopting a Terrier cross, Eddie. She has been a freelance writer for five years, finally turning her hobby into a career. As well as Eddie, she also has three children who keep her busy. One day, she aspires to own a menagerie of animals, including a Highland cow and some chickens.