How to Help a Dog With Separation Anxiety

Updated on June 28, 2019
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Savanna has two furbabies and enjoys sharing helpful tips along with her experiences as a dog mom.

Seperation Anxiety in Dogs

Is your furbaby whining when it's time for you to leave? Is he or she peeing on the carpet or tearing up your house, slippers, and getting into the garbage while you're away? If you answered yes, your sweet angel might be suffering from separation anxiety. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your furbabies and you!

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

  • Howling or excessive barking
  • Destructiveness
  • Accidents (urinating inside)
  • Attempts to escape confinement
  • Scratching at the door
  • Running off when you open the door

What Causes the Behavior?

  • Moving: If you move around a lot or only move once, this may be the reason your pet has separation anxiety.
  • Changing Owners: If you adopted your pet from a shelter, you might see anxious behaviors.
  • Changing Schedules: Dogs often get used to a set schedule, and when it's changed in the slightest way, they may get upset.

Medical or Behavioral Issues

It may seem your pet has separation anxiety, but sometimes it can be other issues.

Possible Medical Issues

If your pup is urinating around the house, make sure to rule out incontinence. Incontinence occurs when your pet can't hold their bladder—they may have small leaks on accident. If your dog is on any medications, make sure that it isn't the cause. Many medications can cause your pet to urinate more frequently.

Possible Behavioral Issues

If your dog isn't completely potty trained yet, this may be the issue. Or, if your dog barks when you leave, he may be bored. If your dog doesn't seem anxious, it may just be a case of incomplete training or boredom.

Tips and Tricks

1. Exercise

Try taking your pup for a walk before you leave home. Tire them out some, that way while you're away, your pup will be in rest mode.

2. Start Out Small

Leave your dog alone for five minutes at a time, then twenty minutes and so on until your pup is comfortable being alone for longer periods of time.

3. Don’t Make a Big Deal

When you're leaving for work, don’t make a big deal about leaving.
When coming home, your pup may be excited to greet you, but try to resist participating in the excitement until they calm down. After calming down, greet them.

4. Leave Some Clothes Out

As silly as this may seem to leave some clothes out that smell like you, you can calm your pet's anxiety by doing this. It has worked for me before—both of my pups love to lay on my clothes. Just make sure it's not the clean ones.

5. Be Assertive

Going out? Stay calm but be assertive. Letting your pup know that you are the leader in this pack and that everything is going to be okay can soothe your pet.

6. Try a Calming Vest

A calming vest is like a wrap that goes on your dog, kind of like a sweater. If fitted correctly, it creates a pressure or weight on your pet as if they are being held, similar to swaddling. This calms your pet down and gives them a sense of security and comfort. The calming vest can be used for many reasons, not just an anxious pet. It can soothe them during fireworks, car rides, thunderstorms, and vet visits.

My Experience Using a Calming Vest

I was skeptical of using one of these vests, but I decided to try it out for my pup Leo. He has separation anxiety and is very scared of thunderstorms. I got one from the pet store; it's called a thunder shirt.

I tried it on him to make sure it fits correctly and waited for the right time to try it out. A few days later, a thunderstorm came. I put the thunder shirt on him; it was very easy. Leo loves to wear clothes!

Anyway, he started barking at the thunder at first as usual. But a few minutes later, he had stopped barking and laid down. I couldn’t believe it had worked that quickly. My furbaby was calm during a storm!

It had worked and I still use it often during storms or fireworks and it calms him quickly. It also works when I leave to run errands or go to work. He is usually with someone, but the vest helps calm him while I’m leaving as he usually whines and barks.

Thank you for reading!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Savanna H


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      • Petcessories profile imageAUTHOR

        Savanna H 

        21 months ago

        Happy to share, thanks for the comment. :)

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I've heard of calming vests for dogs and wondered how effective they were. Thanks for sharing your experience with one.


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