Dog Separation Anxiety: How You Can Help

Does your dog have separation anxiety? It’s not uncommon for dogs to feel anxious when their owners leave them alone for the day, but some dogs are much more nervous about this than others.

Separation anxiety in dogs

If your dog suffers from severe separation anxiety, there are some things you can do to help. Read through the information below to find out more about how to help your dog feel better when she’s dealing with separation anxiety.

Here are 6 ways you can help your dog if they’re experiencing separation anxiety:

Practice in Short Bursts

You can work your way up to less anxiety when you leave home by practicing in short bursts. If your dog has gotten used to you being at home most of the time, you should try short increments of time before leaving her alone for a whole day.

Start with just five minutes at a time. This may not seem like much to you, but it’s a lot to your dog. From there, add five minutes until your dog is able to wait for you to return for an hour or more with no incidents.

This may take several months, so try to be patient.

Don’t Make It a Big Deal

You may be tempted to react if your dog starts to show signs of anxiety when you leave. You might want to coddle her, pet her, or try to comfort her, but all of this is only going to make her feel more anxious.

Instead, try not to make it a big deal. Don’t speak to your dog as you’re leaving—not even to say a quick “bye”—and don’t spend much time lingering at the door when you leave either. This may help your dog feel less worked up about the anxiety surrounding the leaving process.

Reward Your Dog

If your dog is able to calm down while you’re away for a short amount of time, reward her! Let her know she’s done a good thing by staying calm and quiet without you at home. Be sure you catch her at the right time to do this, however, or she may associate the treats with other situations instead.

On the other hand, never punish your dog for her separation anxiety. Just like humans, dogs can’t help being anxious, so it’s important to refrain from punishing or negative reinforcement as you work through this with your furry friend.

Try a Thunder Shirt

Some dog owners have had good luck with thunder shirts for separation anxiety. Dogs who are afraid of storms or fireworks may need to wear thunder shirts to keep them from panicking, and some dogs with separation anxiety may do well with these too.

However, it’s not a good idea to leave your dog unattended for a long time while wearing a thunder shirt. You can usually get by doing this for an hour or two at a time, such as when you go out to run errands. You should not leave your dog in a thunder shirt while you’re at work all day, though.

Consider Anxiety Medication

Talk to your veterinarian for more information about anxiety medication if you think it may be able to help your dog. Some dogs may have such severe separation anxiety that they need medication to treat it—just like people! Never give your dog medication meant for humans, however, without the express direction of a vet.

Vets can work to find the right type of medication to help your dog feel better and get back to her usual cheerful self in no time. Your vet will also help you figure out the right dosage for your dog for her safety.

Think About Doggie Daycare

If your dog simply can’t calm down while she’s at home by herself, even when you have tried all the possible solutions listed here and then some, you might need to think about doggie daycare. Doggie daycare can be an excellent option for nervous dogs who need some socialization with other dogs and humans during the day.

If you don’t want to go with doggie daycare, you may want to consider a pet sitter instead. Pet sitters may be available to spend several hours during the day with your pet, or they may come by for a short walk and potty break. Either way, having someone check in on your dog throughout the day can help her calm down and give you some peace of mind, too.

Find the Best Option to Help with Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

When you have an anxious dog, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out the best way to help her treat her anxiety. When you take time to try several options and see which one works best for her, however, you can give your dog a better quality of life and help her stay free from her separation anxiety at the same time. Don’t forget to speak to your vet for more information if necessary.

For more information, or if you’re looking for additional recommendations to help with your dog’s condition, contact our team at The Village Vets. We’ll guide you in the direction that’s best for both you and your dog.

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About The Village Vets

The Village Vets is a network of animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.

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About The Village Vets

The Village Vets is a network of animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.