March 14, 2023

How to reduce separation anxiety in dogs 

Separation anxiety is a common problem among dogs and can be hard to manage. Here are some tips to help reduce separation anxiety in dogs. 

How to reduce separation anxiety in dogs

Here are some tips on how to reduce separation anxiety in dogs. 

  • Gradually introduce your dog to being alone: Start by leaving your dog alone for a few minutes at a time and gradually increasing the duration. This will help your dog build up their tolerance to being alone. 
  • Create a comfortable environment: Provide your dog with a comfortable space to relax while you're away. This could be a cosy bed or crate, toys to play with, and a source of entertainment such as a radio or TV. If you’re worried about leaving your dog alone, particularly at night, check out our piece on leaving my dog downstairs at night for more detail. 
  • Use positive reinforcement: Reward your dog for calm behaviour when you leave and return home. This can include treats, praise, and affection. 
  • Keep departures and arrivals low-key: Avoid making a big fuss when you leave or return home. This can help reduce your dog's anxiety and prevent reinforcing their behaviour. 
  • Exercise and mental stimulation: Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. This can include walks, playtime, and puzzle toys. 
  • Seek professional help: If your dog's separation anxiety is severe, consider consulting with your vet or an animal behaviourist for extra support and guidance. They may recommend medication or specialised training techniques to help manage your dog's anxiety. 

What triggers separation anxiety in dogs?

Separation anxiety in dogs can be triggered by a variety of factors. These include: 

  • Early life experiences: Dogs that have experienced traumatic events in their early life, such as abandonment or being separated from their mother too early, may be more prone to separation anxiety. 
  • Genetics: Some breeds are more prone to anxiety and separation anxiety than others, such as Labrador Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels. 
  • Lack of socialisation: Dogs that have not been socialised well may have a hard time adjusting to being alone. 
  • Changes in routine: Changes in routine, such as a new job, moving to a new home, or a change in the family dynamic, can cause stress and anxiety in dogs. 
  • Overdependence: Dogs that are overly dependent on their owners may struggle to cope when left alone. 
  • Lack of exercise and mental stimulation: Dogs that don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation may become bored and anxious when left alone. 

It's vital to identify the underlying causes of your dog's separation anxiety to develop an effective treatment plan. If you're unsure what's causing your dog's separation anxiety, seek advice from your vet. Read our post on Cavapoos and separation anxiety for more. 

What breeds have the most anxiety?

Anxiety can affect any dog breed, but some breeds may be more prone to anxiety than others. Here are some dogs that generally have higher levels of anxiety. 

Border Collies: Border Collies are highly intelligent, sensitive dogs that can become anxious if they do not receive enough mental stimulation and exercise. 

Bichon Frises: Bichon Frises are affectionate dogs that can become anxious when separated from their owners. 

German Shepherds: German Shepherds are loyal, protective dogs that can become anxious if not properly socialised. 

Greyhounds: Greyhounds are gentle, sensitive dogs that may become anxious if not given enough exercise and attention. 

Labrador Retrievers: Labrador Retrievers are active, sociable dogs that can get nervous if left alone for a long time. 

Cocker Spaniels: Cocker Spaniels are sweet, loving dogs that may become anxious if not properly socialised or trained. 

Anxiety can affect any dog, regardless of breed, as every dog is unique. If you're concerned about your dog's anxiety levels, it's important to consult with a vet for some guidance and support. 

How can I treat my dog’s separation anxiety naturally?

If you're looking to treat your dog's separation anxiety naturally, here are some suggestions: 

Use aromatherapy: Some essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile, have calming properties and can help reduce anxiety in dogs. You can use a diffuser or apply the oil to a cloth and place it near your dog's bed. 

Try natural supplements: Some natural supplements, like CBD oil, valerian root, and chamomile, have been shown to help reduce anxiety in dogs. However, it's important to talk to your vet before giving your dog any supplements. 

Consider pheromone therapy: Pheromone therapy mimics the pheromones produced by a mother dog to calm her puppies. It can be used in a diffuser or as a collar and may help reduce stress in dogs. 

Remember, natural remedies may not work for all dogs and may not be as effective as medication or addressing behaviours.  

You can read my article here about making your dog an emotional support animal.

Wrapping up

Reducing separation anxiety in dogs demands patience, consistency, and a lot of positive reinforcement.

By gradually introducing your dog to being alone, creating a comfortable environment, using positive reinforcement, , providing enough exercise, and seeking professional help if needed, you can help your furry friend overcome their separation anxiety and feel more relaxed when you're away.  

Every dog is different, and it may take some time to find the right strategy that works for your pup. With love, patience, and persistence, you can help your dog overcome separation anxiety and enjoy a happy and healthy life.

That’s how I got my Cavapoo, Bean, used to being alone for a while. It worked like a charm.  

This is Beans Blog

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