How to Help a Dog With Separation Anxiety

Savanna has two furbabies and enjoys sharing helpful tips along with her experiences as a dog mom.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Is your furbaby whining when it's time for you to leave? Is he or she peeing on the carpet or tearing up your house, slippers, and getting into the garbage while you're away? If you answered yes, your sweet angel might be suffering from separation anxiety. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your furbabies and you!

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

  • Howling or excessive barking
  • Destructiveness
  • Accidents (urinating inside)
  • Attempts to escape confinement
  • Scratching at the door
  • Running off when you open the door

What Causes the Behavior?

  • Moving: If you move around a lot, or only moved once, this may be the reason your pet has separation anxiety.
  • Changing Owners: If you adopted your pet from a shelter, you might see anxious behaviors.
  • Changing Schedules: Dogs often get used to a set schedule, and when it's changed in the slightest way, they may get upset.

Medical or Behavioral Issues

It may seem your pet has separation anxiety, but sometimes it can be other issues.

Possible Medical Issues

If your pup is urinating around the house, make sure to rule out incontinence. Incontinence occurs when your pet can't hold their bladder—they may have small leaks on accident. If your dog is on any medications, make sure that they aren't the cause. Many medications can cause your pet to urinate more frequently.

Possible Behavioral Issues

If your dog isn't completely potty trained yet, this may be the issue. Or, if your dog barks when you leave, he may be bored. If your dog doesn't seem anxious, it may just be a case of incomplete training or boredom.

Tips and Tricks

1. Exercise

Try taking your pup for a walk before you leave home. Tire them out some; that way while you're away, your pup will be in rest mode.

2. Start Out Small

Leave your dog alone for five minutes at a time, then twenty minutes, and so on until your pup is comfortable being alone for longer periods of time.

3. Don’t Make a Big Deal

When you're leaving for work, don’t make a big deal about leaving. When you come home, your pup may be excited to greet you, but try to resist participating in the excitement until they calm down. After calming down, greet them.

4. Leave Some Clothes Out

As silly as this may seem, you can calm your pet's anxiety by leaving out some clothes out that smell like you. It has worked for me before—both of my pups love to lay on my clothes. Just make sure you don't leave them the clean ones.

5. Be Assertive

Going out? Stay calm but be assertive. Let your pup know that you are the leader in this pack and that everything is going to be okay; that can soothe your pet.

6. Try a Calming Vest

A calming vest is a wrap that goes on your dog, kind of like a sweater. If fitted correctly, it creates a pressure or weight on your pet as if they are being held, similar to swaddling. This calms your pet down and gives them a sense of security and comfort. The calming vest can be used for many reasons, not just an anxious pet. It can soothe them during fireworks, car rides, thunderstorms, and vet visits.

My Experience Using a Calming Vest

I was skeptical of using one of these vests, but I decided to try it out for my pup Leo. He has separation anxiety and is very scared of thunderstorms. I got one from the pet store; it's called a thunder shirt.

I tried it on him to make sure it fits correctly and waited for the right time to try it out. A few days later, a thunderstorm came. I put the thunder shirt on him; it was very easy. Leo loves to wear clothes!

Anyway, he started barking at the thunder at first as usual. But a few minutes later, he had stopped barking and laid down. I couldn’t believe it had worked that quickly. My furbaby was calm during a storm!

It had worked and I still use it often during storms or fireworks and it calms him quickly. It also works when I leave to run errands or go to work. He is usually with someone, but the vest helps calm him while I’m leaving as he usually whines and barks.

Thank you for reading!


  • Separation Anxiety | ASPCA
    One of the most common behavior issues pet parents encounter with their dogs is separation anxiety. If your dog is distressed when you’re not home, learn more about how to train your dog to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone.

© 2018 Savanna H

Savanna H (author) on August 20, 2018:

Happy to share, thanks for the comment. :)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 20, 2018:

I've heard of calming vests for dogs and wondered how effective they were. Thanks for sharing your experience with one.

Trainers Look For Ways To Keep Dogs Calm And Occupied To Ease Separation Anxiety As Life Gets Back To Normal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many people decided to get a dog during the pandemic because they were home all the time. But with warmer weather and loosening restrictions, people are now getting out more often.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, dog owners are getting concerned about their pet’s separation anxiety.

Marci Freede loves her dog Jax. But when her two daughters left for college when campuses reopened, everything changed and 7-year-old Jax became very needy.

“Follows me around everywhere, barks at me, wakes me up at six o’clock, hitting me,” Freede said.

He’ll also sit and stare at her, nonstop.

Then, there’s Phoenix who goes berserk when he’s left alone.

“When we leave, he has severe anxiety. He screams, he howls,” said Ashley Fern-Rothberg.

Phoenix was so used to his owners being home that when Ashley and Justin try to leave for a bit, they need to find a dog sitter. They’ve tried just about everything.

“We got the thunder jacket, returned that. CBD chews, lavender oil,” Fern-Rothberg explained.

Amanda Gagnon is a dog trainer. She said most owners need to leave their dogs alone more often.

“One is just so that they have that coping skill of being away from you, but also because we’re not going to be home forever,” Gagnon said.

According to Gagnon, adult dogs can be left alone four to five hours at a time as long as they have something to do while you’re gone.

She suggests leaving a toy filled with treats or food and giving it to them in their crate or bed. It’ll take them awhile to dig out all the good stuff.

“As soon as you’re getting ready to leave, you give them something and you go, and dogs can actually get to the point where they look forward to you leaving,” said Gagnon.

It’s also important not to get excited and make a fuss when you leave or return home.

“Us coming in the door and acting like it was a big deal that we were going actually can make the anxiety worse,” said Gagnon.

You can leave for short increments of time, stretching it out a little longer as you go, Gagnon explained.

Experts say you can also use a computer or video camera to get a better idea of what your dog is doing while you’re gone.

But teaching your dog to enjoy their alone time will make your time together even better.

What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

It’s unclear why some dogs are more prone to separation anxiety. There’s some anecdotal evidence to suggest it’s more common in shelter dogs, who may have been abandoned or suffered the loss of an important person in the past. Some breeds may also be more prone to it, especially the more-people oriented breeds. Life changes can also cause separation anxiety, including a sudden change in the schedule, a move to a new house or the sudden absence of a family member, whether it’s a divorce, a death in the family or even a child going off to college.

as excited as you are, don’t make your return a hyper event. as you re-enter your house, walk around a little, observe a few things before you pet your dog. before leaving the house, leave a few treats to engage the dog and take its mind off your absence.

Residential dog training is a trend in Liverpool as well as in other States. This helps control and limit a dog’s destructive behaviour arising out of stress and anxiety. Residential dog training Liverpool helps in training your pet to familiarize itself with the house and learn to tackle anxiety productively, rather than wreaking havoc to express itself.

Following these pointers can help you and your dog resolve this problem, allowing you to leave happier and your lovable pet to calmly stay at home and wait for you!

How to help a dog with separation anxiety

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, these are some of our recommendations that could help them get back to normalcy.

1. Exercising your dog before leaving

This can help you both a great deal since it also helps you keep fit. Make sure to exercise your dog for only 30 minutes and it will calm them down. Since a tired dog is a calm dog, it will divert its attention to food and sleep.

2. Downplay your goodbye and hello habits

You might want to downplay these habits since it makes your dog anxious for no good reason. This might be just what you need to make sure your dog doesn’t get too anxious before you leave the house and when you come back.

3. Change your ‘going away’ signals

Your dog might be accustomed to certain things that are associated with you leaving which might trigger separation anxiety. Try mixing out things like leaving through the backdoor or even changing where you place your staff like shoes, coat, and keys that you pick up before you leave. This might make it seem normal for your dog hence reducing chances for separation anxiety.

4. Train your dog to be alone even when you are home

This might help your dog adapt to you not being there always hence decreasing separation anxiety. Try putting your dog in a different room beginning with short periods like 5-10 minutes as the intervals continue to increase until he becomes comfortable with you not there.

5. Leaving comfort items and background music on

Music like harp music and classic music has a soothing effect on your dog. This might help calm your dog down when you leave. Also leaving around some dirty laundry that has your scent might help your dog remember that you are still coming back. Make sure to remove its collar and other objects around your house that your dog finds stressful.

6. Create personal space for your dog

For as much as you would love to spend quality time with your dog and even sleeping with them, you should create personal space for it whether it is in a separate room or a crate in another room. This helps your dog have a room for them to relieve their stress and relax hence being independent of you.

7. Do not leave your dog alone for too long

It is advisable for you to not leave your dog for not more than 6-8 hours. If you will be away for longer hours ask your friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your dog and maybe take it out for a walk. If there is no one you can trust or no one is available you should consider a dog daycare.

8. Shop for anxiety treatment pet supplies

Supplies such as a dog swaddling jacket help keep your dog calm by applying constant pressure on its body. Also, toys like the Kong toy help keep your dog busy and it also dispenses treats hence making it fun for your dog to play with.

9. Medicine

There are certain medications prescribed for some separation anxieties in dogs. However, you should first take your dog to the vet to diagnose and prescribe the appropriate drugs for them.

Watch the video: Help your Dog with Separation Anxiety. The Battersea Way (May 2021).