Separation Anxiety and Your Dog
Does your dog get anxious whenever you leave the house? If so, then your dog might have separation anxiety. It is a condition where a dog feels stress and nervousness whenever their owner leaves them, especially for long periods of time.
Many dog owners don’t really think about how much anxiety their dogs go through when they’re away from the house. All they know is that their dogs get super excited and wag their tails whenever they come home and that their dog may have “misbehaved” while they were away. Separation anxiety can be a severe problem for the dog and can be equated to Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) in humans.
Here are some common signs of a dog with separation anxiety.
- The dog whines and barks as you leave the house.
- You come back home to find chewed up furniture and feces on the floor.
- The windowsills have scratch marks on them.
- You find damage to the doors or walls (which are signs they tried to escape).
- Your dog is excessively grooming, and it is resulting in bodily harm.
As a dog owner, you always want your dog to be healthy, happy, feel calm and relaxed, but the truth is that dogs feel stress and anxiety just as humans do. That is why you must find ways to help your dog manage their separation anxiety so when you leave the house, they are calm, healthy, and happy. There are many ways that you can help your dog with separation anxiety issues, however, we are only addressing a few in this post. We recommend that you perform more research and start by talking with your veterinarian.
This should be the first stop with any abnormalities, health concerns or behavior issues you notice with your dog. Google, YouTube, and the various “experts” on the internet (including us), are simply regurgitating information from other sources found on the internet, in reports, studies, publications, and magazines. We are not educated to the degree that a veterinarian is and by default, our opinion should be considered just that… opinion. Whereas, a veterinarian has been extensively educated over many years and has acquired real working knowledge and experience working with animals through all manner of situations, conditions, and scenarios. They are the first and final opinion you should be seeking when it comes to the health of your dog. Please, please, please… talk with your veterinarian prior to starting or trying anything listed in this blog post as a possible solution for your dog’s separation anxiety.
Your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog has a medical condition that could be an underlying factor in her anxiety issues. They will be able to verify any suggestions listed here and provide you with other solutions that we have not covered in this article. We encourage you to print out this blog post and let them look it over to help you and them come up with a plan that will be most effective.
Training should be the first step, after talking to your veterinarian, for managing stress and anxiety for any dog. This is something that can and should be a consistent part of your dog’s life. These do not have to be overly complex or involved to be effective, but they will need to be consistent enough to stave off the anxiety.
For example, if your dog starts to get anxious when she notices that you are getting ready to leave the house, pay attention to what actions you do habitually that would alert her that you are leaving. These could include putting on your shoes, grabbing your keys or in my case… getting out of pajamas on the weekend. If you notice that you habitually perform these actions prior to leaving, they are trigger points for your dog and her anxiety about you leaving. One way to help her with these triggers is to continue to perform these actions, just do not leave afterward. Put your shoes on and sit down to watch tv. Grab your keys and eat dinner. (In my case… simply put actual clothes on and live a normal life on the weekends!) With mild cases of separation anxiety, these simple actions could be enough to calm your dog down over time about you leaving.
Another simple exercise is to walk out the door and close it behind you while your dog is inside at the door. Wait a few seconds and come back in. Then, go back out and wait a minute before going back inside. Do this a few times throughout the day, if possible, and extend the amount of time you are outside each time. This is to teach your dog that you will return and that they do not need to worry about you never coming back.
These are just two examples of simple exercises that can be performed to help your dog with her separation anxiety issues. If you are interested in learning more ways you can teach your dog to relax, YouTube has some great videos of simple training exercises. However, the best resource for training is to seek out a behavior specialist in your area. Be sure to research the person and ask for references before working with them to ensure your dog’s safety.
You may have heard or read about hemp and hemp derived CBD as a way to reduce anxiety in your dog, however it is important to note that the FDA has not approved CBD use for dogs. The FDA also prohibits CBD brands from making any health claims as to the effects and health benefits of using CBD. Therefore, we encourage you to do your own research and talk to your veterinarian about the effects and safety of using CBD for your dog.
An important step in your research should be to check out the CBD brand that you are thinking of using. Make sure they are transparent about where their hemp is grown, have easily accessible testing results for all products, use bottles and containers that protect the product and don't just look good and have proven results.
There are many other options to choose from and we would encourage you to do your own research into them if you are interested. Some alternative options for helping a dog with separation anxiety include natural and herbal supplements, a high-quality diet, plenty of exercise, diffusers, and weighted full body suits. Sometimes a combination of items is best suited to help your fur baby overcome her separation anxiety. Ultimately, it is best to speak with your veterinarian and come up with a workable plan for you and your dog. Consistency is important as well. We wish you luck!!
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