Like humans, dogs can suffer from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety (SA) is when your dog shows signs of severe stress from the moment you leave him/her alone to the time you return. It’s important to determine if your dog is truly suffering from SA or if they’re just bored/unstimulated. Dogs need to be entertained and engaged just like people or else they can turn to destructive behaviors to keep themselves preoccupied.
It can be very frustrating dealing with your dog’s SA. Overcoming SA requires patience and practice and can sometimes feel never-ending. Here are some symptoms to look for if you think your dog might be suffering from SA:
CHEWING/DESTRUCTION: This is typically more present on objects near exits, like door frames, window sills, and other household objects. This behavior is likely to occur if your dog is suffering from SA when you are not present.
ESCAPING: Your dog may try to escape wherever they are confined when separated from you. This coupled with destructive behaviors can be very harmful to your dog.
PACING/EXCESSIVE DROOLING: Dogs can display repetitive behaviors when suffering from SA. These symptoms are more likely to occur when you’re not present.
BARKING/HOWLING: This symptom is persistent and usually only present in your absence.
POTTY ACCIDENTS/COPROPHAGIA: Some dogs will urinate or defecate when left alone. If a potty accident occurs while you are home, it probably isn’t SA.
Since symptoms of SA are typically present when dogs are left alone, it can be hard to determine if your dog is truly suffering from SA. If possible, record your dog when you leave to observe them whenever you leave.
It’s important to rule out other common behavior issues before establishing if your dog has SA. This includes:
SUBMISSIVE URINATION/URINE MARKING: These generally occur in the presence of owners and signal issues other than SA.
JUVENILE DESTRUCTION: Dogs frequently engage in chewing and destruction when young and left alone.
BOREDOM: Dogs need activity and entertainment just like humans.
EXCESSIVE BARKING: If your dog is suffering from excessive barking, this behavior will occur both when you’re away and when you’re home.
If you think your dog might be suffering from SA, try some of the following:
MAINTAIN A ROUTINE: Routines help with stress and anxiety in dogs tremendously.
PRACTICE LEAVING: Begin with small increments away from your dog while gradually increasing time away. Having a toy or area designated for them when you’re planning to leave can help as well.
DOGGIE DAYCARE/PET SITTING: Taking your dog to daycare lets them socialize, exercise, and be in a supervised environment away from you. Having someone come to your home while you’re gone can also help. Pappy’s offers both services to fit your needs.
CBD/MEDICATION: Combined with other solutions, CBD or medication may help to alleviate your dog’s SA. Pappy’s carries Super Snouts at all locations. Be sure to discuss this option with your vet before making any decisions.
Know that, while overcoming your dog’s SA can be hard work, there are plenty of resources for owners who are grappling with it. Pappy’s also offers in-home training services that may help. For more information on SA, check out the ASPCA’s and AKC’s websites for more info.