Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Signs to Watch for

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If your dog gets nervous when you're preparing to leave your house, over excited when you return, or ruins your furniture and barks the entire time you weren't home… Well, your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety. There’s no need to worry too much, though. Separation anxiety in dogs symptoms can be treated if you know the proper techniques to implement. So, let’s talk about it and help give your beloved canine the care it needs! 

Dogs show separation anxiety symptoms when their owners leave for long periods of time

What Is Dog Separation Anxiety?

Dogs, in particular, can struggle with the sudden absence of their owners as most dogs get great comfort and feel a sense of anxiety relief when around their human companions. 

Dogs often show separation anxiety symptoms when their owners leave for long periods of time. Some dogs will try to distract themselves while their human companion is away, while others will be troubled when separated from their companion.

Most of the behaviors connected with separation anxiety appear in the first hour of the owner's absence. However, in severe cases, dogs remain impacted for the entire period of the owner's absence and cannot adjust to it at all. According to behaviorists, the combination of fear, anxiety, and phobias are the primary causes of numerous behavioral conditions.

Separation anxiety in dogs is more than just whining or barking when their owner is out of the house. It is a severe condition and, sadly, one of the major reasons why pet owners get annoyed and give their dogs up for adoption. Nonetheless, there are many ways to help a dog with separation anxiety before taking any more serious measures.

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

What Are The Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety?

You might be quite familiar with certain symptoms that are common with separation anxiety, such as your dog ruining furniture or barking in your absence, but there are other signs that you might be missing when it comes to identifying any type of anxiety in your pet dog. Luckily, separation anxiety is preventable. Here are some separation anxiety in dogs symptoms:

  • Destructive behavior, mainly directed at the door you used to leave the house, as well as destroying and chewing furniture.
  • Chewing things where the owner's scent lingers, such as sofas, beds, remotes, etc. 
  • Making loud noises such as repetitive and high-pitched whimpering, barking, and crying indicating distress.
  • Dehydration in dogs because of redundant barking.
  • Urinating and defecating in the house is associated with stress.
  • Shaking, whining, and pacing when no escape is displayed at an extreme verge of panic.
  • Your dog wakes up from its sleep to follow you around.
  • Dog panting heavily.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Self-harm.
  • Dog seizures.
  • Vomiting.

You can check on your dog and identify these issues by installing a camera to monitor your dog when it is home alone, to be sure. As a responsible dog owner, you need to address your dog’s separation anxiety issue. 

What Causes Separation Anxiety?

It is not apparent why some dogs are more prone to separation anxiety than others. However, some signs of dog anxiety and causes of separation anxiety are: 

  • Leaving your pet dog all alone, mainly when it is accustomed to only having people around.
  • Moving into a new home.
  • New ownership and a traumatic separation from the previous owner.
  • Change in routine and schedule.
  • Losing a human family member, whether because of a death, divorce, or someone leaving for college.
  • Losing a canine partner.
  • Being highly attached to you and needy when you are home. You may notice your dog bark or become anxious when it hears or sees you close a door at him. 
  • A traumatic incident in your absence, like robbers breaking in or house fire.

How to help a dog with separation anxiety 

How To Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety

You should always consult a licensed veterinarian before doing anything about your dog's separation anxiety. The vet will help you figure out how to help a dog with separation anxiety and the possible triggers and causes. The best way to deal with separation anxiety in dogs is usually through a variety of dog separation anxiety training, preventative methods, and medicines.

Give your dog things to do with its mouth and body and make it practice every day with these solo play techniques. This way, it will not depend on you to feel OK, and your dog will have some coping techniques in place that it can practice when left alone.

Depending on your dog’s nature, your dog might feel more at ease in its crate when you are not home. Teach your dog to connect being in its crate with being able to play with enjoyable items like puzzle toys and chew toys, making it comfortable to spend time inside. Further, put in a soft blanket and a mattress inside the crate to offer a cozy resting spot while you are gone.

However, not all dogs enjoy being crated, depending when a crate was introduced into their life. Do not put your dog in a crate if it causes stress. Provide access to safe social areas when you are not around. Leave out clothes you wore recently, so they smell of you. The clothes can help put your dog at ease.

Practice making your dog comfortable with your absence, so it knows it is normal to have no access to you for some time. Gradually increase the time you're away from home. Command your pet dog to stay while you wear your shoes and collect your house keys. Then go into a separate room. Do not rush this process. Each time you leave, offer your pet dog its favorite treat.

Give your dog baths for good hygiene. Baths can help improve your pet dog's mood and calm them down a bit. You should bathe your dog yourself, but if you cannot do it for some reason, properly guide the person doing it on how to bathe your dog.

This step might not be so easy for certain dog owners, but try to modify your behavior when leaving and returning. For the hour before you leave your house, become socially unavailable with no playing or petting with your dog. Do not show excitement when you come back for the first half-hour.

How To Prevent Separation Anxiety In Dogs

There are various potential causes of separation anxiety in dogs. It is crucial to work on prevention at the first sign. Some ways to deal with separation anxiety in dogs are: 

  • Learn to read your dog's body language. Understanding when your dog is scared or relaxed can prevent adverse experiences or use them as a training moment. 
  • Allowing your dog to socialize can help ease anxious behaviors. Introduce your dog to new places, people, animals, dogs, and experiences to help dodge an unfavorable response later because they’re too attached to you.
  • Obedience conditioning is a vital tool for controlling and preventing separation anxiety in your dog. It establishes trust and a wholesome relationship. You can take your dog to obedience classes where it can interact with other dogs. Moreover, an obedient dog will socialize more easily than a dog with no training.
  • Regular exercise and healthy nutrition are essential for your dog's physical and mental development. An exhausted, content dog will be less worried when you are not around.

Other Tips To Help Dogs With Separation Anxiety

If your dog is suffering from pet separation anxiety, you should avoid situations that trigger its anxiety. For instance, if being around big groups of dogs causes your dog stress, avoid taking it to such parks. Doing so can relieve some of the stress on you and your furry companion. 

Furthermore, introducing preventive measures like harnesses, baskets, and leashes can help avert difficult situations. 

Please remember anxious behaviors are not the consequence of disobedience, so do not punish or scold your dog! Punishing your dog may upset it even more, and the situation could worsen. So, be gentle and patient with your canine partner.

Dog looking sad staring out the window

Final Notes

It is taxing to come home to all the destruction and distressing to see your dog in misery. It is even more gut-wrenching for your dog. Like us human beings, dogs can experience a range of emotions, with anxiety being one of them. 

Understanding the causes, signs, and therapy choices involved with dog separation anxiety is essential. As a pet owner, learning about these crucial factors will allow you to help your dog in anxiety-causing circumstances in the most effective way possible. 

If your dog is struggling with separation anxiety, consulting a veterinarian is the way to go. Fortunately, Dutch can help you take practical steps to deal with your dog's separation anxiety. Dutch is a suitable solution for pet care. With the help of a reliable telemedicine program, a Dutch-affiliated licensed veterinarian will guide you through exactly what is going on with your pet so it can live a comfortable and healthy anxiety-free life. 

Dutch allows you to connect with licensed vets from the convenience of your home. With the assistance of proven training activities, therapeutics, and medicine, your vet can devise treatment plans suitable for your pet's needs. Your pet dog deserves the best care, and with Dutch, you can be sure that your beloved canine is in good hands.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.