How to Cure Separation Anxiety in Dogs

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Clawed off baseboards. Chewed off furniture. Ruined carpeting. Scratched off doors. Chewed off shoes.

Do these sound familiar?  This article will discuss how to cure separation anxiety in dogs. 

A few lucky owners have naturally well-behaved dogs that are not prone to separation anxiety and don’t have to deal with this. However, those ones that do can really stress out its owner. If this is you, keep reading! 

It’s no fun to go home and see your couch torn to pieces or your baseboards torn off. This is speaking from experience. 

Your dog’s anxiety level starts to rise the moment it realizes you’re going out without him or her and its when your pet begins to show symptoms of anxiety. When you’re out, it’s when your pet vents this anxiety through destructive behaviour which may, in extreme cases, result in self-harm such as broken teeth and injured paws.  Separation anxiety goes beyond boredom –  It is legitimate stress and it is bad for their physical and mental health.

Dogs are social animals. It is unnatural for them to not join their “pack” which is you and other members of the household. 

Separation anxiety occurs more often in dogs that are:

  • Younger though it also happens in older dogs
  • Dogs that have been abandoned, rehomed or separated from a person or group they feel attached to
  • Dogs that were adopted from shelters

When easing separation anxiety in dogs, the end goal is to make your dog comfortable in being alone and to make certain adjustments to make your dog at least be able to tolerate the situations that trigger anxiety and also by giving your dog things to do to keep him busy while you’re away. 

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety:

  • Destructive behaviour
  • Accidents in the house even if potty trained
  • Pacing back and forth or in circles, almost obsessively
  • Digging and chewing – attempting to escape. notably around doors and windows. 
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • In extreme cases, self-mutilation
  • Barking and whining as you prepare to leave

Causes of Separation Anxiety:

  • Change of residence 
  • Change of schedule or routine
  • Dogs that were not socialized enough as a puppy
  • Dogs that are recovering from illness
  • Dogs that have lost a mate, a family member, a group or previously abandoned
  • An over-privileged dog that is allowed to sleep on its owner’s bed
  • An owner that allows the dog to dictate when it eats, walks, plays

 A few things to rule out:

  • Make sure your dog is properly house trained. Incorrect or incomplete house training can make your dog soil in the house or harsh training might make your dog afraid to eliminate while the owner is around
  • Some medicines or medical conditions might cause your dog to urinate uncontrollably such as Cushing’s disease, kidney/bladder disease, urinary tract or even diabetes may affect normal urinary functions. Consult your vet to rule this out.
how to cure separation anxiety in dogs

What you can do:

  • You need to teach your dog to be relaxed in another room for short periods while you are home before you can expect him to be calm being alone in the house for longer.  You can do this gradually over days or weeks. While your dog is alone in another room, give him something to keep him busy like a stuffed Kong or a safe chewing toy but take it away when you’re around.
  • Play Dog Music while you’re away. You read that right. There is psychoacoustic music created specifically for dogs. It can be bought online but it can be found free on Spotify and Youtube. while you’re away. You read that right. There is psychoacoustic music created specifically for dogs. It can be bought online but it can be found free on Spotify and Youtube. You can play it on your computer or through Google Home or Alexa just before you leave the house. My personal favourite is the iCalmDog speaker. This device is relatively inexpensive and it also plays music for a host of other dog issues like aggression, phobias, etc… This type of music is very soothing even for humans. In fact, when they play it on rehoming centers, the rate of adoptions significantly go up. The research results of Dr. Susan’ Wagner’s Through A Dog’s Ear study (2004-2005) conducted with 150 dogs showed that classical piano arrangements induced peace in 85 percent of dogs in households. Additionally, music also helps to muffle sounds coming from outside the house which is another source of anxiety.

Stop your dog’s habit of looking out the window as this is guarding behavior. Interrupt this habit by closing the blinds. Dogs have natural guarding instincts. Closing the blinds will give your pet less to worry about while you’re away. It will also prevent your dog from barking at everything that moves outside the window

  • The more space you allow your dog to roam around while he’s alone, the bigger the area your dog will feel he has to protect. This is again part of a dog’s natural guarding instincts. Minimize your dog’s burden by gradually reducing his access to the house while you’re away. 
  • If your dog sleeps in your room, gradually let him sleep in another area of the house. Letting your dog sleep in your room especially on your bed will naturally let your pet feel that you and he are in the same hierarchy, therefore, making your dog more difficult to train. It also causes separation anxiety. Giving them a separate room to sleep tells them that it is safe to be disconnected from you for periods of time. 
  • When you leave the house, make it easier for your pet to tolerate being alone by giving him something to do. Leave your pet with a frozen Kong stuffed with peanut butter or other treats to keep your dog busy but take it away when you get home. (not a Nylabone, if possible) 
  • A crate is a dog’s sanctuary. You can leave your dog in a crate if you won’t be away for more than a few hours but only if your dog’s separation anxiety is mild. Do not do this if his anxiety is severe because your dog might desperately try to escape and hurt himself.
  • Bach’s homeopathic drops are particularly effective in soothing a dog’s anxiety.
  • Discover 15 ways to naturally calm your dog.
  • If your dog is already mature and still has anxiety, consider getting your dog a canine companion.
  • Take your dog for a long walk before leaving the house. Ideally at the same time every day. A tired dog will tend to sleep when left alone and will probably awake by the time you get back depending on how long you were away. The benefits of exercising your dog go beyond easing anxiety. 
  • In the wild, dogs hunt in packs of 6 to 20. This is a part of a dog’s natural instinct. Domesticated dogs still have that instinct. This gives them anxiety because they do not understand why their “pack” keeps leaving the house without them. Don’t make it hard on your dog by petting and saying goodbye. This activity only provokes and intensifies your dog’s anxiety. Simply walk out. When leaving the house, make it a non-event. It seems cold but it has to be done. Same when you arrive home – simply walk in and wait a few minutes before you acknowledge your pet. 
  • Try to give your dog a high value treat like a piece of chicken before you leave. If your dog ignores it and continues to show anxious behaviour, you can assume your dog has severe separation anxiety. Do something you normally do before leaving the house like wearing your coat but instead, sit on the couch or use the computer. Do this multiple times during the day. 
  • Doing this slowly desensitizes your dog to anxiety. As your dog begins to look more and more comfortable and less anxious, you can gradually start to drop out of sight. Take your keys and wear your shoes and calmly exit the house and re-appear after a few seconds. Gradually build this up until you can disappear for a few minutes and until you feel your dog is calm enough for you to leave. Remember to wait a few minutes before you acknowledge your dog upon returning home and to take the kong away. 

Disclaimer

All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice

45 thoughts on “How to Cure Separation Anxiety in Dogs”

  1. Hello,

    Great post. Very informative.

    Years ago I had a puppy that would go crazy when he was home alone. He would destroy everything on his way. Sometimes he would be very aggressive, was that bad? He was just a 4 month old puppy.

    Reply
    • Hi Adriana!
      Going crazy/Destructive behavior are classic signs of separation anxiety. I wish you read this post back then. There could be many reasons why he became aggressive.

      Thanks for commenting!
      sonny

      Reply
      • Hi Sonny,

        My puppy would scare me sometimes because he would stare at me like he was ready to attack, I figured it was sort of normal because he was young and very imperative.
        I was very young as well and did not seek information about his behavior. We humans think that adopting cats or dogs is just like getting a toy. We need to be informed, we need to educate ourselves before making a commitment and before taking that big step of adopting a cat or dog.

        I know a lot of people is interested and have a lot of questions, I hope you site helps them understand their dogs behaviors.

        Thank you for the good information on your site, great work!

        Reply
        • Hi Adriana,
          You’re right – too many people get dogs and underestimate the work and commitment it takes to be a responsible dog owner.
          Thanks for commenting!
          sonny

          Reply
  2. Gosh I wish that I had read this article many years ago! Hasn’t our attitude to animal wellbeing developed and accelerated in the last few years.

    Who would have thought when I was a kid with a dog in the 60s that one day we would be seeing articles written about the mental health and wellbeing of the most loved domestic pet on the planet!

    Thanks for this I really enjoyed reading it, I found both informative and fascinating….good job.

    Thanks for posting

    Hamish

    Reply
  3. Hello there, the hanks for this awesome article it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me.i must tell you that I have been looking for the best possible way to stop this anxiety stuff that do affect dogs as due to it I have spent a lot of cash on repairing furniture but thanks to you I know all these thing as over

    Reply
  4. My experience with the topic is limited because we have never had a dog in the house. However, my son-in-law and daughter have a dog. He also stays outside unless the weather is extreme. Before they got their current dog, they had two dogs, a mother and her son. When the pup grew up, they were about the same size.

    They live only about 200 yards from us, across a circle driveway.

    We have a porch on our house, and we have always been successful in teaching the dogs to stay off it. One reason why we wanted to do that was because we have 12 grandchildren, and some of them are smaller than the three dogs I have already mentioned. I would consider them medium-sized dogs. Still, they were big enough to be intimidating to the smaller children. Therefore, we wanted the front porch of our house to be a safe space for the children.

    We live in the country on a small farm. It is big enough for the pess to roam, so they don’t have a lot of anxiety when we leave.

    The mother dog and her son passed away two or three years ago. Our dog (It is really their dog), Scout, has proved to be more crafty than the others. He gets on the porch quite often.

    I told my wife that he is quick, and when we step out the door, he rushes off. We can’t catch him. The others would look sort of guilty and stay around long enough to get a (gentle) swat with a newspaper or something like that. He knows he is going to be corrected, but we can’t get close enough to him to do even that.

    We can yell at him, “Get off the porch.” He will get off, but he will get right back on at the earliest opportunity. The others were conditioned to where, when we yelled, “Get off the porch,” they were reminded that they really weren’t supposed to be doing that.

    Having said all that, I like your suggestions and tips for working with a far more annoying situation than what we are having to deal with. 

    I hope your article will help many dog owners.

    Randy

    Reply
  5. Hi! This post has been helpful. I have been anxious knowing my dog is anxious. And I know my dog is properly house trained and he hasn’t been taking any medicines that may make him urinate uncontrollably. So having ruled out those things, I’d like to play my dog some Dog music. This is interesting. I’ll come and tell you how it turned out.

    Reply
  6. Hi there

    i have two boxers and when ever mum leaves they both pine for her big time pacing and restless and looking out of the window i have sent a link to the site for my wife its great and rewlevant as well good niche area.

    im viewing on a desktop so will let you know how i get on jst popping back in

    first issue is that your links open in ate same window i am doing an hour or two tonight on comments and it seems to be a theme on here google dont like bounce rate which that what is happening so by opening in same window you keep the customer on your page for longer = more time time = sales

    not sure why you have aliexpress for dropshipping on the site maybe dog collars on amazon would be more appropriate

    was just the first few link all the rest opened in a different window great work keep it up and i will be bookmarking the page to have a read later

    Reply
    • Hello, Thanks for your comment. Especially about Aliexpress. It got me thinking so I removed it. You were correct, It had nothing to do whatsoever with the niche. Can you further clarify what you said about the posts opening in the same page?

      Reply
  7. This is truly interesting. I’ve never had a doggy; never really been a pet person. However, I am aware that puppies are the closest pet to mankind according to pet owners and writers like yourself. I didn’t think separation would affect doggies as much or even more than it would to any human being. 

    Reply
  8. To be honest, this is a very sad phenomenon. I can only imagine how awful dogs that suffer separation anxiety feels. Since dogs barely functions in single units, it becomes easier to understand why they’d feel awkward being away from their friend and owner. What makes this even more bitter, is the idea that when venting it’s frustrations and stress resulting from its anxiety, there’s the tendency that it might end up getting hurt. Thankfully, there are viable ways to control this and from what I gathered from this article, they don’t seem very difficult to implement. The most interesting tip in my opinion, is to arrange a separate room for the dog to sleep. I used to think sleeping on the same bed with your dog makes it feel loved🤦🏽‍♂️, I didn’t know that this gave him the idea that equality.

    This has been really informative. Thanks for sharing 

    Reply
  9. There always will be some type of emotional hurting to your dog while training him. When I was first training Tobby, I suffered much more than himself. He cried a lot  during his being alone adaptation period. 

    I love the idea of giving him a challenge to get some entertaining time after we’re gone (this allow him to learn he could hang around and be happy when you’re not close). I used to turn the TV on for him too. 

    I keep medications alternative off the radar for this reason (only used on long car trips). 

    Thanks for a great review!

    Reply
  10. One of my dogs had severe anxiety when he was a puppy. I had just rescued him and he was extremely traumatized from his experiences on the street, he had been through a lot at only two months old … He kept on escaping my property to find me every time I left for work or something else. I worked with him a lot, socializing, taking him to unfamiliar places, etc. Now he is fine. He is still sad when I leave, but he shows no more issues. I give him and the others a treat sometimes and I have played relaxing dog music. It all helps.

    Reply
  11. Our dog has very bad separation anxiety and we are not quite sure why. We have had him since he was first born, and he is now 3 years old but still will have accidents on our beds and other places when we are gone, even if we had let him out right before we left. We have tried the crate method but he seems to get even more upset in the crate. I like the music idea though, I will talk to my wife about trying that out. I thought he would grow out of it, but that has not been the case. Thank you for sharing this post, it is very helpful!

    Reply
  12. There really was a lot I learnt from this article. I’m one real dog lover and whenever I hear my dog start to make some sounds when I’m about to go away I just have to take him with me. So basically to avoid dogs separation anxiety we just have to avoid treating them too nice right? No sleeping on the bed, no petting and saying hellos and goodbyes and stuff. Really its going to be difficult to do all this but it has got to be done. Thanks for the eye opener.

    Reply
  13. Great article. It’s going on my list so I can read it again. All dog owners should be aware of this. I guess many family dogs live in houses where the people are out many hours of the day while the dog is left alone. 

    Unfortunately, my golden retriever had to go to dog heaven just recently (it was old and very sick, so it was the best for her) – but with the next dog we get I will be much more aware of any signs on seperation anxiety. 

    Thank you for giving out this advise for free. Much learned. 

    Reply
  14. Sonny,

    How funny, this was going to be my next article! Guess I will have to find another.  My Chance suffers from separation anxiety.  He is not destructive when I am gone, but when I return home, he is so hyped up to see me, like a kid on a candy rush. I usually, but not always come home to an unwanted present on the floor somewhere in the house.

    I plan to get him some calming chews or CBD oil to see if that would work to settle him down some while I’m out of the house.

    Once again, good look with your website.

    Barbara

    Reply
    • Hello Barbara! 😊 Our dog, Watson used to do that a lot too when he was younger. 

      I wrote an article on Cannabis for dogs with anxiety 

      https://anxiouscanine.com/cbd-for-dogs-with-anxiety/

      I’m not trying to sell anything, but try to read it because there’s some helpful information on finding the right type of CBD oil.

      Re: separation anxiety article, please don’t let me stop you from writing it. The internet is a large place. I’m sure you also have other insights to add. Best wishes to you too! 

      Sunny

      Reply
  15. Sonny,

    How funny, this was going to be my next article! Guess I will have to find another. My Chance suffers from separation anxiety. He is not destructive when I am gone, but when I return home, he is so hyped up to see me, like a kid on a candy rush. I usually, but not always come home to an unwanted present on the floor somewhere in the house.

    I plan to get him some calming chews or CBD oil to see if that would work to settle him down some while I’m out of the house.

    Once again, good look with your website.

    Barbara

    Reply
  16. Thank you so much for sharing with us such a beautiful article. I’m glad I found this article. I have a little dog. Thank you so much for writing this article about How to Cure Separation Anxiety in Dogs. I got the idea to deal with my dog when he was anxious. It will be of great benefit to those of us who own dogs. I think, it’s a bit of information overload but as pet owners, it is our responsibility to know this by heart. Thanks for the information and sharing. I will definitely share it with my friends. Thanks again and I can’t wait to read more posts like this.

    Reply
  17. Hello there! We were so blessed back when we had our boxer. He was the perfect dog. He had no problem being left alone for hours. We left all the blinds up so he could see out. He rarely barked and would hold in his pee and poo until we got home or sent someone to let him out. 

    On the other hand, our neighbors had a beagle that barked and was highly destructive when they weren’t home. They tried a Thundercoat, but it didn’t work. I don’t think they ever tried a radio or the television. If only they could have read your thorough and well-written article before the wife passed and the husband gave the dog to relatives. Things would have been much more peaceful!

    Reply
  18. Thank you so much for sharing with us such a beautiful article. And I have a dog and he is a very good friend of mine. Unless you read the article, I don’t know if the dog has all these diseases .I enjoyed this great article from first to last and gained a lot of knowledge .Separating Dogs It’s a bad thing when a sick dog with anxiety is hurting himself .And once the dog is healed we will know what causes his behavior to change .In fact, it is very important that these poor animals do not suffer from the disease ?And whenever I am not at home, dogs are worried that I must follow your tips for healing. And in the very nice way you mentioned some of the causes of this depression in your article, I found that habitat change and routine change are significant in my case. Because I did these two things and I will read your article and try to adjust it so that my dog does not have this problem and he does not behave destructively. In fact, isolation is a concern so I will try my best to solve all the problems, especially these two because I want my friend to be good. Lastly I would like to say that for people like me who have a dog and who are very good friends, this article will be very helpful and I will definitely pass it on to my friends.

    Reply
  19. I didn’t know about the disease that dogs have until you posted a post. Yes, animals when separated are sick with anxiety. It’s a bad thing when a dog is hurting itself. we will know when the dog is cured.Perhaps upon changing his behavior.It is important that poor animals do not suffer from the disease.

    Reply
  20. Thanks very much for this great article about how to cure separation anxiety in dogs. It has been an enjoyable article from the start to its end because I have got to know and learn many things from this article which I didn’t know and now since I have got to know am going to practice them so as to cure my little dog from anxiety whenever am not home. Thanks very much for this article in advance.

    Reply
  21. Wow! Thank you very much for this article. I got the idea to deal with my dog when he was anxious.
    Sometimes, when he is “anxiety”, he will ruin everything he can. Either it will be shoes, carpet, furniture and curtains. Once, after he damaged things at home, I locked him in cage for 1 full day. I didn’t bring him out to pee, or poop.
    The next day, he became more fierce. So, from that time on I never again locked him up. However, I hope I find your article sooner. Because even now, I have no idea about this problem. Once again, thanks. 

    By the way, do you have any medicine suggestions that can be given to him?

    Reply
  22. Great info on this from which I learned quite a bit. There has been separation anxiety with our current dog which we inherited when my mother-in-law passed away, He is not only in a different environment but his main caregiver is no longer around.  Fortunately he does know myself and my wife as we had been around him quite a bit when spending time with my mother-in-law.

    Your insights are very helpful. We will be sure to implement some of these to address some of the symptoms which he is displaying. 

    Thank you for this information. It is much appreciated. All the Best.

    Reply
    • Hi Joseph,

      Losing an owner or “pack” leader can certainly trigger anxiety in dogs. Its a good thing your pet was already familiar with you and your wife. 

      Im glad you found the article to be helpful.

      Regards,

      Sunny

      Reply
  23. My Dad is the owner of a 18 year old dog. She used to have separation anxiety. Eventually, she just grew out of it. She used to tear up the trash and pretty much get garbage all over the house. Now, she’s very calm when left alone. I would recommend from experience to get a very good bone for your dog to chew on when left alone. This will give your do something to do other than worry about where your at.

    Reply
  24. Very interesting read, answered all the questions I didn’t even know I had! Very interesting how music has positive psychological effects on both humans and dogs.

    Reply
  25. Hi, Sonny.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on curing separation anxiety in our loving pets & puppies.
    Being a pet parent this article was of great value to me.  All the points explained on the topic that can be done are extremely useful and practical. I am using most of them but few points are quite considerable, I will definitely try them. Thanks again.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    Reply
  26. Humans experience anxiety; dogs do too?? I never thought about this. It’s quite shocking for me to know this today.

    Some dogs are given excess privilege. Personally, I would not allow my dog to share the same beg with me; doesn’t look nice in any way. Dogs natural posses guarding attributes, I have noticed that too; always barking at every thing that passes by and every noise that is being heard too. Your cure for separation anxiety would help save us a lot of stress and troubles as a result of our dog’s separation anxiety.

    Reply
    • Hi Harrison,

      I agree, I think it’s a little unhygienic to let your dog sleep on your bed. Thanks for your positive comments, I appreciate it. 

      Reply
  27. Hello Sonny Chua. This is a full and effective article that treats Separation Anxiety in Dogs. I found out from this post that most of the causes of anxiety in our dogs are what we never saw to be anything but those things matter alot and if we don’t put an end, we will end up hurting our pets.

    I never knew there were songs for dogs. I checked the one ion this page and also I checked YouTube, people are speaking well of it. Thanks for sharing this article. Bravo!

    Reply
    • Hi, 

      I have to confess, I also listen to dog music to relax before bed.  There’s something about it that i like. 

      I “ask” google Home to play dog music while I lie in bed reading a book. No wonder dogs like it.

      Glad to be of help! 

      Sonny

      Reply
  28. Thank you for the awesome post!  I have a little Jack Russell who gets separation anxiety bad when I go away to work.  She is naturally already hyper, and so when I’m gone all that energy comes out in desperately trying to find me.  I did not know about the bigger the room, the worse it may be.  I actually thought it was the other way around, so I have been giving her more space to roam in the apartment.  So that will be something I work on now.  She has had most of the apartment to herself, in hopes that she would stop.  Well, now I know why.

    Reply

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