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Separation Anxiety: Does Your Dog Know You’re Coming Home?

Separation anxiety and how to help

dog looking out of window for owner

It’s easy to mistake your dog’s separation anxiety for simple misbehavior.

dog looking sad on couch

Your pup’s distress signals are likely to be destructive and disruptive habits like howling, chewing, and digging when you leave him alone. The best way to avoid these problems is to be able to identify the signs of separation anxiety and to look for ways to help ease your best friend’s fears.

black lab puppy looking up at owner

Causes of Separation Anxiety

While any dog can develop separation anxiety, dogs that have been adopted from shelters  (especially puppies), are more likely to have dealt with traumatic situations than those that have lived with the same family since their puppy days.

Changes of guardian or family, schedule, or residence are common triggers for the disorder, as well as a history of abandonment.

Dog hiding under blanket

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Persistent howling or barking and excessive pacing in a fixed pattern are two of the most common clues that your dog might be developing separation anxiety. Dogs struggling with the disorder will only exhibit these behaviors when their guardians are not around, and they will likely stop as soon as you return. A video camera can capture what’s going on when you’re not home.

golden retriever puppy with separation anxiety howling for owner

It’s common for anxious dogs to panic when they are left alone.

If your pup leaves evidence of chewing and digging at door frames or window sills when you are not home, it could be a symptom of separation anxiety. It could also signal that your pet was trying to escape from a confined area when you were gone, which could lead to self-injuries like broken teeth and scraped paws.

dog with separation anxiety looking out of window for owner

How you can help your dog with separation anxiety

Once you’ve recognized that your dog is struggling with separation anxiety, it’s important to teach your dog that being alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Try leaving your dog with a long-lasting treat, like a bone or a Kong toy with low-fat peanut butter or cheese inside. That way, your pup will start to associate being home alone with activities he loves.

Dog chewing on a chew toy outside

Always, be sure to never scold your dog for symptoms of separation anxiety.

Your pup is likely dealing with a significant amount of stress when you’re gone. Punishment could potentially make the problem worse. Be supportive and patient, and make sure to give your dog time to heal. Remember your vet is a great resource for providing solutions.

black bulldog laying on sidewalk next to plants

Calming Support Chews

If you think your dog could use some extra support but don’t like the idea of heavy medications, we recommend starting out with a natural calming support chew.  Try to stay away from products with synthetic ingredients, opting instead for those that are organic and natural as they are usually easier on the stomach.  CalmWELL is an all-natural calming aid containing highly effective yet gentle ingredients like chamomile and passionflower in a soft chew that can be used as needed, or daily for chronic conditions.

CalmWELL Natural Calming Aid

If Symptoms Persist:

Your pet may be dealing with severe separation anxiety that requires a talk with your vet. They may advise seeking out a professional trainer, or if really needed, a stronger anti-anxiety medication.

Written by VetWELL