Does your dog panic when it’s time for the humans of the household to leave home? Do you often come home to a destroyed interior and a distressed dog? If any of this sounds true for you, then you might be dealing with a dog who has separation anxiety.
In this article, we’ll show you four of the most common signs your dog has separation anxiety. From there, we’ll walk you through some steps you can take to ensure your dog manages his anxiety and recovers from this issue as well as possible, too. Read on to find out more.
What Dog Separation Anxiety Looks Like
Here are some of the most common signs that dogs with separation anxiety will show.
1. Destructive When Alone
When you leave your dog at home alone, does he destroy your furniture, shred your pillows, and pull towels down from their racks? Do you often come home to find the place in shambles because your dog was upset? If so, your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety.
Dogs who are left alone may become destructive out of panic. They may get aggressive or frustrated because they can’t find their human family members, and they may take these feelings out on your furniture.
2. Whining, Crying, and Barking
It’s common for dogs to whine, cry, or bark a little bit when they’re left at home alone. However, if your dog doesn’t settle down within a few minutes of realizing no one is coming back inside to see him, then this could mean he’s got separation anxiety.
Extreme noise when left alone is a telltale sign that your dog has separation anxiety. In this situation, he is looking for attention from his human family and is willing to keep making noise until he gets it. This can be a problem if you live in an apartment or have very close neighbors.
3. Potty Accidents
Some dogs who have separation anxiety may panic when left alone and may have potty accidents as a result of this feeling. They may also urinate or defecate on the floor out of fear. If your dog is only having potty accidents when no one is at home, there’s a good chance separation anxiety is the reason.
However, if your dog is having potty accidents and is normally well-trained and housebroken, this may be a sign that he’s sick. Rule out any illnesses before you assume your dog’s potty accidents are related to separation anxiety.
Dogs who are very anxious when left alone may be prone to escaping or attempting to escape. If your dog tries to find ways out of the house or yard while you’re not at home–and especially if he succeeds–there’s a chance separation anxiety may be the culprit.
Escaping behavior usually happens because a dog wants to find his human family members. However, it can also happen in intact male dogs who are looking to mate. If your dog is not neutered and smells a female in heat in the area, he may try to escape to find her.
How to Help Lessen Separation Anxiety
Now that you’ve learned some of the most common signs of separation anxiety in dogs, it’s time to learn how you can help your pet feel better.
How Long Does Your Dog Cry?
The first and easiest way to try training your pet to stay calm when left alone is simply to let him cry it out. Try leaving the house and just going out into the yard or on the porch where your dog can’t see you. Wait and see how long he cries and barks; if he settles down after a little while, go back inside and reward him with a treat.
In more serious cases of separation anxiety, this method may not work, however. It’s also not a good idea if you live in an apartment.
You might also need to train your dog to stop associating your leaving cues with being left alone. Try putting your shoes on, getting your coat, or grabbing your keys, then just sitting down for a while. With plenty of practice, your dog can learn to stop associating these signs with fear.
Talk with a Professional
Finally, you might need to work with a professional trainer or talk to your vet about anxiety medication in extremely severe cases. Professionals may be able to offer you more useful information specific to your dog.
Need to Talk with a Vet?
As you can see, there are several common signs of separation anxiety to be on the lookout for. If your dog is dealing with one or more of these, it’s important to get a handle on the situation before it gets even more out of hand.
By working with a veterinarian, you can help your dog feel more comfortable when he’s left at home alone and make it easier on you and the whole family to go away for the day, too.