How to help a dog with separation anxiety

Dogs love the company of their owners, so on the occasion they are left alone, they can sometimes find it distressing, which may lead to them acting out. This type of behaviour can be a sign of separation anxiety.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs and what steps you can take to help them feel more comfortable when left alone.

What is separation anxiety in dogs?

Separation anxiety is the term used to describe dogs that are overly dependent on having their owners with them and become incredibly distressed when they are not around. Separation anxiety in dogs is quite common and can be triggered when your pooch is left alone for any period of time.


What are the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs?

Many dogs feel anxious when they are alone and away from their owners. However, if they feel very distressed, they may display some possibly destructive behaviours. These may include constant barking, self-injury and even household destruction, particularly around entry and exit points in the house, such as windows and doors.


What causes separation anxiety in dogs?

Many things can trigger separation anxiety, but it’s often caused when your dog has not learned how to cope with being alone. 

If your dog is used to being with you all the time, tends to follow you around, sleeps with you, and is prone to crying when you leave a room, they may experience separation anxiety when you go.

Certain dog breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, and Cocker Spaniels, can also be more prone to separation anxiety, as they are well known for becoming very attached to their owners.


How to help a dog with separation anxiety  

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you’ll need to help them cope with spending time alone. Here are some things you do to help your dog become more familiar and comfortable with being on its own.


Leave a special toy for them

Whenever you leave your dog alone, make sure they are surrounded by toys and games to help keep them occupied while you are gone. A long-lasting chew toy is a great way to help keep your dog distracted - just make sure they are familiar with and enjoy playing with the toy before you leave them alone with it.


Tire them out

A good way to ensure your dog will be calm when you’re not around is by tiring them out beforehand. Making sure they’ve had plenty of exercise and mental and physical stimulation before you leave them may help them settle easier once you have left. Also, remember to feed them a hearty meal before you leave, so they are not too hungry when you’re gone, as this will only make them more distressed.


Encourage and reward them for playing alone

Try to get your dog used to playing on its own when you’re at home. This will help them get used to being by themselves for short periods, so it’s not as overwhelming and stressful when you do eventually leave. Be sure to reward them for playing on their own too, so they associate this with a positive experience.


Get a dog sitter

If you are going to be away for more than 4-5 hours, it may be a good idea to get a dog sitter or leave your pooch with a friend or family member.

Find someone you trust whom your dog feels safe around – this way, they will feel less stressed about you not being there.


Seek professional help

If you have taken steps to help reduce your dog’s anxiety, but they haven’t worked, it may be time to talk to a vet and seek the help of a professional such as a clinical animal behaviourist. They will help to identify what is triggering the anxiety and give you ways to manage it with dog separation anxiety training.


To keep your pooch happy and healthy at all times, make sure they are properly covered and protected. Take a look at some of the pet insurance policies we have available here at Asda Money.

Trustpilot reviews