Does your dog bark or whine, misbehave, or have potty accidents whenever you leave them alone? They may be suffering from separation anxiety. This can be a serious behavioral problem, but there are things that you can do about it.
What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Dogs with separation anxiety are overly dependent on family members and extremely anxious when separated from them. Some studies have found that around 5% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. However, the number may actually be higher since some people may not recognize the signs of separation anxiety in their dog or be unaware that their dog is behaving anxiously when they aren’t home.
Signs of Dog Separation Anxiety
Signs of separation anxiety in dogs may vary between individual dogs and depending on the situation. However, most dogs with separation anxiety will show at least some of the following signs:
- Vocalize excessively when they are separated from their owners and/or at greeting or parting
- Destructive when left alone
- Urinate or defecate when they’re separated from their owners although they are normally potty trained
- Follow their owners from room to room and react if left alone outside or in a separate room from their owners
- Display signs of anxiety-like panting, pacing, shivering and salivating as soon as their owners begin preparing to leave the house
- Want a lot of physical contact with their owners, especially when an owner returns home
- Try to prevent their owners from leaving
Why Might a Dog Develop Separation Anxiety?
Some individual dogs may simply be more prone to anxiety, including separation anxiety. However, many dogs that develop separation anxiety do not spend enough time away from their family as puppies. Puppies that do not have structured alone time are much more likely to develop separation anxiety.
Rescue Dog Separation Anxiety
Rescue dogs are likely to have separation anxiety for the same reason as any dog: because they were not given sufficient alone time as a puppy. Dogs with separation anxiety may be more likely to be surrendered to shelters. In other cases, dogs may develop separation anxiety because they are abandoned by their owners.
How to Help a Dog With Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can be a difficult problem to overcome. However, there are some effective ways to help dogs that are suffering from this issue.
How to Break a Dog’s Separation Anxiety Using Counterconditioning
Counterconditioning is most effective when a dog has a mild case of separation anxiety. In more severe cases, it may not work well unless other measures like CBD oil, medication, or desensitization are also utilized.
In counter conditioning, an association is developed between time alone and good things, usually delicious food. Every time you leave the house give your dog a puzzle toy like a KONG stuffed with high-value food.
Freeze-dried beef liver, boiled chicken, or peanut butter work well. Freezing the KONG can help make it last longer.
How to Calm a Dog With Separation Anxiety Symptoms That are More Severe
For dogs that have more severe separation anxiety, it’s a good idea to use an anti-anxiety supplement like CBD oil. CBD oil may help to regulate serotonin in your dog, which can help them to feel happier and more relaxed, aiding in preventing and reducing separation anxiety symptoms.
Desensitization can also be very effective to reduce more severe separation anxiety symptoms. You can desensitize your dog to cues that you are going to leave. Many dogs notice cues such as you putting on your shoes or jacket, grabbing your keys or bag, etc.
If you perform these cues without leaving, your dog will gradually become desensitized to them. You can try a few different cues to see what your dog responds to. Keep performing these cues without actually leaving until your dog isn’t responding to them.
You can also desensitize your dog to your actual departures. Skip any rituals you typically perform before leaving like grabbing a jacket or keys and simply walk out the door. Leave for very short periods of time, ideally less time than it takes for your dog to become upset.
For dogs with severe anxiety, simply going to the bathroom and closing the door is a good place to start. This is a good time to offer a puzzle toy or chew toy to counter condition your dog to you leaving.
Gradually, you can increase the amount of time you spend away from your dog. A nanny cam is a great tool to help you see how your dog is reacting to your departures so that you can time them appropriately.
Curing Dog Separation Anxiety Quickly
Counterconditioning and desensitization are very effective ways to reduce separation anxiety in dogs, however, they can be very time-consuming. If you are working a full-time job or need to be away from the house for any other reason, you may not have time to work with your dog using short departures to desensitize them to your absence.
In this case, trying out CBD may be your best option. CBD oil has been found to be very safe and well-tolerated in dogs, which makes it a good option for a quick and effective treatment for separation anxiety. CBD oil is sometimes effective within as little as 20 minutes.
How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dog with CBD
Be sure to give your dog CBD as a treat by hiding it in peanut butter, cheese, or another high-value treat. Chasing your dog around to give them CBD oil may contribute to their anxiety.
Be sure that you choose the most effective type of CBD oil so that you know your efforts will be most likely to result in relief for your dog. Choosing a full-spectrum CBD oil is very important. Products that do not contain full-spectrum oil are less likely to be effective. Use Innovet Pet products for the best result.
How to Help Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety can be a serious problem in dogs, reducing the quality of life for both the dog and the family. However, by using the right supplements and taking time to counter condition and/or desensitize your dog, you may be able to completely eliminate their anxiety.