One of the biggest dog behaviour problems that causes distress to both dogs and guardians is separation anxiety. When a dog struggles being home alone, it can be a big challenge to manage your day to day life whilst keeping your dog happy and at ease.
Let’s look at the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs, you might be surprised at a few of them. And then we’ll look at what you can do to help your dog spend time alone happily.
Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs
If your dog barks or howls when left alone, then you may already know they suffer with separation anxiety. But not all dogs with separation anxiety will howl or bark, some symptoms are far more subtle.
It’s important to monitor your dog’s behaviour when alone so you can watch for all the signs.
- Unable to relax, overly vigilant
- Barking, howling or crying excessively
- Soiling in the house, diarrhea
- Pacing, trembling, whining
- Destructive behaviour such as digging, scratching ripping or chewing
- Escape attempts
- Excessive licking, chewing of paws or other body parts
- Not eating food or treats
- Extreme excitement when you return
What causes separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety can be caused by genetics, health, and environment. Some breeds may have a stronger disposition to developing separation anxiety, such as companion breeds who were bred to spend time with their humans.
But separation anxiety can develop at any age, and happen to any dog. It’s not your fault if your dog is suffering with separation anxiety, you haven’t caused it.
Does crate training help with separation anxiety?
While crate training your dog has many benefits, it is not a cure for separation anxiety.
Crate training is frequently assumed to be the first step (especially if your dog is destructive or has accidents when left alone), insisting on a crate may exacerbate the problem and cause your dog additional anxiety.
Instead, use gates or other barriers to create a safe space in your home and help your dog build confidence while being alone, without the added pressure or fear of the crate.
Will my dog grow out of separation anxiety?
One of the worst pieces of advice I hear around separation anxiety is leaving the dog to cry it out. Your dog will not simply get over their fears and anxiety about being left alone, you need to help your dog to feel safe and secure, so they can develop confidence in being alone.
If left untreated, separation anxiety can become worse, and take longer to resolve.
What is the fastest way to fix separation anxiety in dogs?
The fastest way to fix your dog’s separation anxiety is to call in professional help. A certified separation anxiety specialist can help guide you on departure training exercises and monitoring your dog’s stress levels, so that you can build up happy alone time.
Download my free separation anxiety ebook (and bag yourself a free home alone tracker inside)
How do you treat separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety training gradually builds up your dog’s ability to spend time alone confidently, resulting in more freedom for you whilst your dog settles happily at home.
To begin with, it’s important not to leave your dog alone, when you start your separation anxiety training. This may mean you need to build a network of people to support you in your journey to overcoming your dog’s separation anxiety.
Solutions for leaving dog at home
To help you whilst you gradually train your dog to feel more comfortable home alone, it’s a good idea to build a rota of people who can dog sit when you need to go out.
You can consider asking neighbours, friends or family to hang out with your dog. Or you can hire a professional dog walker, pet sitter or dog boarder to take care of your dog when you cannot be there.
Can separation anxiety in dogs be cured?
Yes, separation anxiety is a treatable condition that can be improved with the right training and behavioural modifications.
A separation anxiety training program can help your dog to feel confident home alone. I have helped many dogs and their humans to overcome separation anxiety and recover their freedom.
Sloanes guardian, Alicia, contacted me because her neighbours had mentioned that Sloane was howling and crying when she was left alone at home.
After Sloane’s initial assessment, we established that she could manage 15 minutes confidently. From there, with carefully created departure training exercises.
With Alicia’s daily dedication, Sloane confidently reached the milestone of being home alone for 2 Hours and 45 Minutes!
I help stressed out dog guardians through a proven, gradual training process to help their dogs feel comfortable while left alone.
Overcome Separation Anxiety: Keep Your Dog Happy Home Alone!