Ways to prevent and relieve separation anxiety in dogs

5 puppy training mistakes

There’s a reason why people say dogs are man’s best friend – they provide us with unwavering loyalty and companionship. However, this same bond can leave our furry friends prone to separation anxiety. But if you follow our top tips, you can learn how to avoid it.

What is it?

As anyone with a dog will know, our canine friends can be extremely needy, constantly wanting love and attention. This neediness and the strong emotional attachment dogs have with their owners causes many dogs to experience anxiety when they are separated from their humans.

However, head coach at Dogs Trust Dog School, Tamsin Durston, explained in a recent Metro interview that, although you shouldn’t leave your pooch home alone for more than three or four hours, all canines are different, and some will be fine for longer.

What types of behaviour might your dog display?

According to research by the Dogs Trust, a third of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. So, how do you know if your dog suffers? These behavioural signs can often indicate separation anxiety:

  • Barking and howling – If your dog barks, whines and howls when you leave the house there’s a good chance they will continue making this noise throughout the day.
  • Urinating and defecating – If you regularly come home to find your pooch has urinated and defecated, he’s suffering from separation anxiety.
  • Destructive behaviour – Through the boredom and loneliness, dogs can often turn destructive, digging, chewing or destroying objects. They often tend to focus the destruction on door frames, doors, doorways or windowsills, but any household object could fall victim to this destructive behaviour.
  • Escaping – In their desperation to be reunited with their guardians, dogs will try to escape. As well as causing damage to objects and themselves, some dogs do actually manage to escape.
  • Pacing – If your dog is left in the garden when you’re out and you notice a worn pattern in the grass, it’s likely your dog is pacing as a result of the anxiety.
  • Sleeping when you get home – Dr Emily Blackwell from the University of Bristol explains that the anxiety leads to their rest being very disturbed, so if your dog seems tired and only settles down when you’re home, there’s a good chance they’re anxious when you’re away.
  • Vomiting – Very anxious dogs will vomit from the stress of being left on their own.
  • Coprophagia – This involves the dog defecating and consuming all or part of their excrement.

While these symptoms can be signs of other behavioural issues, you can tell if it is being caused by separation anxiety as your dog will only do these things when they are not in your company.

Top tips to avoid separation anxiety

  • Train them from a puppy or when you first bring your dog home by building up how long they are left on their own.
  • Make sure they have toys and chews to keep them occupied and exercise their brain.
  • Make sure they are tired when you leave them. Always take them for a walk to burn off energy.
  • Leave the radio or TV on as the noise can comfort them. But try having it on a timer; if your pet is reliant on constant sound, a power cut could cause them to experience more stress.
  • Hire a dog sitter or an experienced dog walker to come in and exercise your pooch during the day.
  • Consider using a crate, but make sure your dog is comfortable using it when you’re around, otherwise you risk causing them more stress.
  • Change your routine. Dogs pick up on your daily routine, so when you reach for your keys and shoes, your canine friend can realise you’re getting ready to go, causing them anxiety before you even leave the house.

Destructive behaviour stemming from separation anxiety can cause self-injury, such as broken teeth and damaged paws and claws. Protect your pet from any accidents with pet insurance. Get in touch for a quote today.

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