Separation anxiety in dogs

With the end of the summer holidays combining with more people returning to work, many dogs are going to miss the extra attention and companionship they’ve enjoyed. Suddenly they are alone and this change can create a lot of stress for them. 

To help ease the transition, Clent Hills Vets‘ team would like to suggest their 6 top tips on reducing separation anxiety in dogs. Read them then talk to us if you’d like more information on any of our advice. Also, if you have any tips, please do share them on our Facebook page as it would be great to hear what works for you. 

Our top 6 tips on how to reduce separation anxiety: 

Watch for the signs - If your dog has separation anxiety, you (or your neighbours) may observe one or more of the following: 

  • Barking and howling whilst you are out – neighbours will often tell you this, or, there are lots of doggy cameras available online to see (and hear) what’s going on with your pet when you’re not at home. 
  • Destructive behaviour – chewing household objects or generally making a mess is a sign on anxiety, and boredom. 
  • Toileting inside – urinating and defecating in the home 
  • Panting, shaking & restlessness – also signs of stressed and anxious behaviour 

If you see any of these behaviours, you should consider the following:

  1. Walk your dog before going out – If your dog has been exercised, they’re more likely to rest and relax once left home alone. 
  2. Leave your dog some enrichment activity – Giving your dog a food toy or enrichment puzzle can give them something to do and may distract them as you leave.  
  3. Don’t make a fuss when you leave – Avoid touching and talking to your dog, and avoid eye contact when you depart and return. This way your dog won’t see your comings and goings as a big deal.  
  4. Stay calm at all times – Be an assertive pack leader so your dog feels reassured. If your dog has been naughty while you’re out, it’s important not to get angry.  
  5. Ignore your dog - On arriving home, ignore your dog and behave calmly, until they also become relaxed and calm themselves. This shows that you, the pack leader, are not stressed and will not react to their attention-seeking behaviour. This can be very hard to do but worth it. 
  6. Use a pheromone diffuser – A dog-appeasing pheromone diffuser (often known as a DAP diffuser) can be plugged in around the house to help calm your dog naturally. If you’d like to know more, ask our team for advice. 

Ask us about DAP products

We hope that you find the above tips helpful. If your dog is having extreme difficulty dealing with you leaving them at home, talk to one of our Vets who may advise referring your pet for veterinary behavioural medicine