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July 31, 2019 3 min read

Separation anxiety in dogs are defined as a dog problem behavior that shows itself through symptoms like barking, whining, excessive salivation, destroying items, attempting to escape from the crate and scratching at walls, floors and door.

Separation anxiety in dogs can be treated with correct training methods. Helping a dog with a separation anxiety also depends on the dog and his symptoms. Here are some ways you can calm an anxious dog who doesn’t like to be alone.

1. As they say, “A tired dog is a happy dog.” Make sure you take your dog for a walk before you leave. A tired dog has less energy to be anxious and destructive. Make sure you end the walk or exercise 20 to 30 minutes before you leave, so your dog has time to settle down.

2. Give your dog a well-stuffed Kong or his favorite toyto take his mind off your imminent departure.

3. This may be very difficult for some dog owners but try to make your departures and returns completely calm. If your dog gets too excited and jumps all over you when you return, ignore him. Turn your back and walk away. And when your dog finally settles down, say hello and greet him very calmly.

4. You can also defuse the pieces of your departure routine by doing them when you are not actually leaving. You can pick up your car keys and sit down on the sofa to watch TV or dress in your business attire and then cook dinner. If it’s not too much for you, you can also set your alarm for 5 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, then roll over and go back to sleep.

5. You can also mix up the pieces of your departure routine when you are leaving so that his anxiety doesn’t build to a fever pitch as he recognizes your departure cues. We are creatures of habit too and this might be hard to do, but it will surely pay off in big dividends. Eat your breakfast before you shower instead of after or pick up your keys and put them in your pocket before you take your dog out for his final potty break. You can also put your briefcase or bags in the car while you’re still in your pajamas. Make the morning as unpredictable as possible.

6. Most importantly, when you know you’ll return within the time period that your dog can tolerate, you can use a “safe” cue such as “I’ll be back” or “I’ll be home soon”. This can help your dog relax, knowing he can trust you to return.

7. Doggie daycare may be suitable for some dogs, but not for others. Explore alternative dog-keeping situations to minimize the occasions when you do have to leave your dog alone. You may be able to find a neighbor or a relative who might appreciate some canine companionship.

8. If you would like to consider adopting a second dog, try borrowing a calm and stable dog from a friend to see if that will help relieve your dog’s distress.

9. Removing as many other stressors such as choke chains, shock collars, physical or harsh verbal punishment (especially in connection to his anxiety behaviors) from your dog’s world may also help him maintain his equilibrium in your absence.

10. Another solution is to consider working with a behavior professional to be sure you are on the right path and to help you explore the possibilities of using anti-anxiety medications to maximize the effectiveness of your modification efforts.

Fixing separation anxiety in dogs is hard work. It is very easy to get frustrated with your dog’s destructive behavior. Just remember that he is not choosing to do it out of spite or malice, he is panicked about his own survival without you or his pack to protect him. It’s no fun for him either. As a dog owner, it is our responsibility to train them how to act with or without us.  If you make the commitment to modify his behavior and succeed in helping him to be brave about being alone, you will not only save your home from destruction. You will surely enhance the quality of your dog’s life immensely, as well as your own.