TAGS: training | dog ownership | health

Tips for Helping Dogs with Separation Anxiety

21 Mar, 2023

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Separation anxiety is a common issue that many dogs face when they are left alone. It can cause dogs to become anxious and potentially destructive. While we dog lovers would be thrilled to take our pups everywhere we go, it is simply not always possible. A part of a dog's training should include teaching them to get used to being alone for a few hours, as it will significantly benefit both the dog and the owner. That being said, every dog is different, and not all breeds can achieve the same level of independence. The tips that we provide here have the potential to improve the way your dog reacts to being left alone.


Sad Dog


Create a Comfortable Space


One of the leading ideas for helping dogs that suffer from separation anxiety is to make a space for them in the house that is essentially theirs. This is a spot where they can feel comfortable and secure. Some ideas for spaces you can create for your dog are a cozy crate with plenty of blankets and their favorite toys or a room designated for them whenever you leave them alone. Dogs are animals of habit, and if they get very comfortable in a particular area, they will not feel such great anxiety when left alone there. 

Gradual Exposure + Desensitization 


Dog waits for owner at front door


This point is especially important for puppies but can, of course, be applied to older doggos as well. When teaching your pup to get accustomed to being left alone, you should not begin by leaving them for 5 hours right away. Instead, always start by leaving them on their own for short periods, up to 15 minutes to start, and gradually increase the amount of time once you see that they are beginning to feel more comfortable. If you leave them alone for an extended period of time right from the start, your dog will immediately have a bad association with it, which will further increase the difficulty of your goal. On the other hand, if you allow your pup to get used to being alone in small doses and further improve their experience by leaving them alone with a special treat or toy that they love, your pup will begin to positively associate the experience in their brains, and leaving them alone for more extended periods will become doable.

Regular Exercise


This point is crucial and yet often underrated. Ensuring your dogs get enough exercise daily will calm them down and help reduce their anxiety. If you know you will be required to leave your pups home alone for a few hours, take them for a good run beforehand, and you will see a noticeable difference! Your dogs will be happy to chill when you are gone, and there is a high likelihood that they will fall asleep altogether. Just like humans, if we do not move enough and remain indoors for extended periods alone, we will certainly not feel our best.


Dog Jumping in a Field


Calming Methods


When leaving your pup alone, there are a few techniques to keeping your dog relaxed while you are gone (besides for giving them food!). The first is putting on some relaxing music at a soft to medium volume level. Dogs generally respond very well to calming music, and this can help many doggos relax and potentially even sleep. Another technique that many dog owners use is leaving a piece of their clothing with their scent. Since your dog has a positive association with your scent, leaving them with an item with your scent on it can be very comforting. 


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