How Can You Know if Your Dog has Separation Anxiety?
You may not even be aware that your dog displays signs of separation anxiety since you won’t be present to witness it. However, if you have suspicions, set up a pet camera, as the behaviors are typically displayed within the first half-hour after your departure. Any longer and the destructive activities are likely a sign of boredom rather than anxiety. Signs of anxiety in dogs can include one or more of the following:
Excessive barking, howling, or yapping
- Pee or defecating in the house even after being fully house-trained
- Scratching the door
- Chewing or destroying furniture, pillows, or other objects
- Extreme pacing
- Unwarranted salivation
- Repetitive behaviors like constant licking or scratching at their bed
- Self-harm or self-mutilation behaviors like nipping or biting themselves
How Can You Deal with Separation Anxiety with Your Dog?
Dogs are pack animals and naturally want to be with their families. Even the most placid dogs need to be trained to be left alone, and this process will be more straightforward if started early.
The RSPCA recommends following these five simple steps while focusing on positive reinforcement training techniques such as offering treats, pats, praise, and toys.
- Stay - Encourage your dog to stay in their bed
- Move Back – Encourage your dog to stay while you move further and further away
- Progress – Increase the time your dog stays in bed, and the further you can move away
- Leave – Exit the room for more extended periods and eventually close the door
- Increase – Try to increase the time gradually until your dog can be left alone for one hour
We know that it is tempting to get mad when you see scratch marks ruining your door or feathers from a destroyed pillow. However, try to avoid verbally or physically punishing your dog for these behaviors, as they will likely only worsen.
Turn on White Noise
Leaving a TV or radio station on can help your dog feel less alone. It will also muffle any noises arising from mail being delivered or people passing by that could otherwise heighten your dog’s anxiety.
Get a Sitter
Regardless of whether your dog is exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, it can be worthwhile booking them in for dog daycare. They can spend time socializing, and you will have the peace of mind that your house won’t be destroyed upon your return. Even dogs not showing signs of separation anxiety shouldn’t be left alone for longer than four hours.
If you are still concerned about your dog's separation anxiety, it is worthwhile speaking to your veterinarian about options. There are medications available that can alleviate the signs of stress, or they may refer you to a clinical animal behaviorist to develop a treatment and training plan.