How to Help a Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety

How to Help a Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety - Dog Blog | PetCurious
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What Does Separation Anxiety In Dogs Look Like?

How do you know if your dog has separation anxiety? It can look different for each and every pet, but there are common signs. Your dog might bark or whine a lot, chew up things they shouldn’t, pace around, or have accidents in the house.
Excessive barking or whining Destructive behavior Pacing or restlessness House soiling
This can happen for various reasons—maybe there’s been a change in their routine, a traumatic event, or they haven’t been socialized enough.

How To Help A Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety

#1 Being Prepared Is Key

Your dog might be always used to having you around all the time—so it’s very normal for them to feel fussy the moment you’re away. With this, start by getting your dog used to being alone. The best way to go about this is gradually. Again, there isn’t a strict timeline for this. It all depends on your dog, environment, habits, etc.

Start With Short Departures

Start by leaving your dog alone for a few short periods. This could be as little as a few seconds to a couple of minutes. The goal here is to let your dog experience being alone without getting anxious. Then, repeat this several times a day. Over time, your dog will start to understand that when you leave, you’ll always come back.

Gradually Increasing the Time Away

Once your dog has gotten comfortable with your short departures, slowly increase the time you’re away. Move your time away from a few minutes to ten minutes, then perhaps to half an hour, and so on. Patience is key here. You might want to rush into doing a longer period of time right away—but doing so might set back your progress. Your dog needs to build confidence that being alone isn’t something to fear.

#2 Create A Safe Space

No one wants to be left alone and uncomfortable—even your dog. And even if they’re used to your surroundings at home, it's important to provide them with something or somewhere to confide in. This could be a comfortable crate or a specific area in your home. Make sure this space is cozy and inviting.
A crate is a good example of a safe space, provided your dog is crate-trained and sees it as a positive place. Otherwise, other comfortable areas and things include beds, blankets, and toys. You can even leave one of your shirts. The familiarity of these objects can help reduce anxiety.

#3 Establish A Pre-Departure Routine

Dogs thrive on routine. Much like step #1, having a routine in place can help your dog accept and understand your surroundings.
Create a set of consistent cues or signals that you use before you leave. This could be anything like putting on your shoes, grabbing your keys, or saying a specific phrase like "I'll be back, buddy" Over time, your dog will associate these actions with your departure and learn that it’s a normal part of the day.

#4 Have Distractions

Dogs can also experience boredom—especially when no one is around to engage with them. So, provide them with distractions to help them shift their focus. You can leave a puzzle toy for mind stimulation. Some toys also have treat-dispensing features. As they play with the toy, treats are slowly released, providing both mental stimulation and a tasty reward.
How to Help a Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety - Dog Blog | PetCurious
You can also leave the radio or TV for some comforting noise. Choose channels that have calm, soothing sounds. Some pet owners find that channels with talking or soft music work well.

#5 Professional Pet Sitter Services

Unfortunately, not all dogs respond well to the tips above. But, that’s completely okay. Dog anxiety varies across a wide range of behaviors, actions, and emotions. If your dog struggles with being alone for extended periods, you might want to consider professional help.
A professional pet sitter can come to your home and spend time with your dog to provide companionship and care. This can be a great option if you have to be away for long hours and don’t like the feeling of your dog being alone at home completely.
If you don’t like the idea of having someone visit your home, dog daycare centers are another excellent option. These facilities provide a place for your dog to play, socialize, and get plenty of exercise while you're away.

#6 Professional Help For Dog Separation Anxiety

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dog’s separation anxiety might persist or worsen.
There are several types of professionals who can help you manage your dog’s separation anxiety effectively:


Your first step might be to consult your veterinarian. They can rule out any medical issues that might be contributing to your dog’s anxiety. Additionally, veterinarians can prescribe medications or supplements that can help manage anxiety.

Veterinary Behaviorists

Veterinary behaviorists are specialists in animal behavior. They have the necessary specialization and training in diagnosing and treating behavioral issues in pets. They can create a comprehensive treatment plan for you that may include behavior modification techniques, medication, and other interventions.

Certified Dog Trainers

Certified dog trainers with experience in separation anxiety can also be an option to look into. They can work with you and your dog to implement effective training techniques. Look for trainers who use positive reinforcement methods and have a good track record with similar cases.
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