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Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Learn how to understand, prevent, and manage separation anxiety in dogs.

As much as we love spending time with our canine companions, it's not always possible to be with them 24/7. Dogs, being social animals, may struggle with being left alone, leading to a condition known as separation anxiety. This behavioural issue can cause distress for both dogs and their owners. However, with proper understanding, prevention, and management, we can help our furry friends cope with separation anxiety and lead happier, more relaxed lives.


Understanding Separation Anxiety:

Separation anxiety in dogs is characterized by excessive and persistent distress when separated from their owners or when left alone. Common signs of separation anxiety include:

Excessive barking or howling:

Dogs with separation anxiety may vocalize loudly and persistently when left alone.

Destructive behaviour:

Chewing furniture, shoes, or other objects is a typical behaviour in dogs experiencing anxiety.

Toilet accidents indoors:

Even if well-trained, dogs with separation anxiety might urinate or defecate indoors when left alone.

Pacing and restlessness:

Dogs may exhibit anxious behaviour, such as pacing, drooling, or excessive grooming.

Escape attempts:

Some dogs may try to escape by scratching doors or windows in an attempt to reunite with their owners.


Preventing Separation Anxiety:

Prevention is always better than cure. While some dogs are more prone to separation anxiety due to their temperament, early training and socialisation can help minimise the risk. Here are some preventive measures:

Gradual desensitisation:

Teach your dog that being alone is not a cause for anxiety by gradually increasing the time spent apart. Start with short absences and gradually extend the time.

Positive associations:

Create positive associations with alone time by giving your dog a special treat or a favourite toy just before leaving. This helps them associate your departure with something pleasant.

Practice departures:

Practice leaving the house for short periods, but don't make a big fuss when you return. Stay calm to show your dog that departures and reunions are routine.


Managing Separation Anxiety:

If your dog already experiences separation anxiety, there are several strategies to help manage and alleviate their distress:

Crate training:

For some dogs, a crate can provide a safe and comforting space during alone time. Gradually introduce the crate and make it a positive space with treats and toys.

Interactive toys:

Leave your dog with interactive toys or puzzle feeders to keep them mentally stimulated and occupied while you're away.

Calming aids:

Consider using calming aids, such as pheromone diffusers or calming music, to create a relaxing environment for your dog.

Behavioural training:

Consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist experienced in separation anxiety to implement specific training techniques tailored to your dog's needs.


In severe cases, medication prescribed by a veterinarian may be necessary to help reduce anxiety and stress.

Dealing with separation anxiety in dogs requires patience, understanding, and consistent training. By providing a secure environment, positive associations, and gradually desensitising your furry friend to being alone, you can help them overcome this challenging condition.

Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Be compassionate, seek professional guidance when needed, and, most importantly, shower your canine companion with love and reassurance as you work together to manage separation anxiety and foster a strong, trusting bond. With time and effort, your dog can learn that being alone doesn't mean being anxious, and they can lead a happier and more relaxed life, even when you're not around.