7 ways to stop separation anxiety in dogs

7 ways to stop separation anxiety in dogs

Many dog owners often have to leave their dogs alone at home due to work reasons, which can easily lead to separation anxiety. If your dog suffers from severe separation anxiety, medication may be needed to reduce anxiety to a more manageable level. Fortunately, not all dogs experience separation anxiety to such a severe extent. There are ways we can help alleviate these symptoms of anxiety.

Here are 7 solutions to help your dog overcome separation anxiety when left alone at home due to your work commitments.

1. Don't make a big deal out of it

If you're anxious about leaving your dog alone, they'll sense it too. So it's best to remain calm when you leave and make it seem like no big deal. When you come back home, ignore your excited dog for the first 15 minutes or so until they calm down. Otherwise, they'll become more enthusiastic when you respond. If your dog becomes relatively calm with you coming and going, it means they're getting used to the idea of you leaving.

2. Get a calming vest

There are now calming vests for dogs on the market that apply slight pressure to their body, which helps reduce anxiety. However, you should monitor your dog to see if they try to take the vest off while you're not there.

3. Leave an item with your scent

Dogs have a strong sense of smell and can be comforted by your scent. Leaving an item of clothing with your scent can help your dog feel more comfortable and secure. This is especially helpful for crate-trained dogs.

4. Leave your dog's favorite toys

Leaving your dog's favorite toys before you go out will help keep them occupied and distracted, making them less likely to feel bored when you're not there.

5. Leave your dog's favorite treats

Similar to leaving toys, you can leave your dog's favorite treats in interactive toys like treat-dispensing balls. This way, they can play and enjoy treats at the same time, making their alone time less boring.

6. Crate train your dog

If you're struggling to find a solution for your dog's separation anxiety, crate training can be very effective. It ensures your dog's safety when you're not there and prevents them from "destroying" your house. It also lets your dog know that their crate is a safe space where they can relax and feel protected.

7. Desensitize and counter-condition your dog

For dogs with moderate to severe separation anxiety, you may need to desensitize and counter-condition them.

a. Change the routine before leaving. If your dog associates you taking your keys and leaving with you going away, they may feel anxious. You can pick up your keys at random times during the day without leaving to help them understand that you taking your keys doesn't always mean you're leaving.
b. Help your dog get used to being alone.

Separation anxiety in dogs can be a real concern for pet owners, but there are ways to help alleviate the anxiety and improve the dog's quality of life when left alone at home. How do you manage your dog's separation anxiety? If all else fails, seeking assistance from a professional dog trainer may be necessary.