When your furry bestie gives you those great big puppy dog eyes, leaving them at home by themself can be oh so hard. But, it can be even harder for your pooch. Some dogs find it more difficult than others to adjust to being left at home alone and can even experience separation anxiety which is essentially a dog panic attack. But what are the signs and causes of separation anxiety in dogs? And how can we prevent or treat it? Today we’re going to deep dive into separation anxiety in dogs so that you can best look after your furry best friend.
What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Dogs are social floofs and thrive on being close to other members of their furmily. It’s normal for them to give you those great big puppy dog eyes or whine from time to time when you leave them, but if your dog acts like they are truly terrified to be left at home alone, they’re likely experiencing separation anxiety.
What are the Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Some of the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs can be similar to simple mischief that a naughty doggo might get up to when you’re out and about. Therefore, it’s impawtent to determine whether your pooch is showing legitimate signs of stress or whether what they’re doing might just be down to poor puppy training.
When your pooch was a little pup, their instinctual response to being left alone from their mother or litter would have been to whine, whimper, or bark to alert their furmily to their whereabouts. These are normal responses for a dog to display when you leave them at home, particularly if they haven’t been trained to know that being at home by themselves from time to time is okay and that you’ll be coming back to them eventually.
The best way to find out if your pooch is truly displaying signs of separation anxiety is to set up your home like Big Brother with a video camera in an area where they spend most of their day and watch for signs of stress and anxiety.
Some of the signs of separation anxiety in dogs are:
- Extended periods of whining, whimpering, barking or howling.
- Shivering or shaking.
- Panting or drooling.
- Doggy accidents in the home that are abnormal for your pooch.
- Destructive behaviour such as chewing or scratching furniture.
- Frequent escaping from your home.
What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
There are many factors that play a part in a dog developing separation anxiety, which include:
The Breed of Dog/Genetics:
Some pooches are more hooman-orientated than others and are prone to separation anxiety. These include Jack Russel terriers, Shar Pei’s, Cocker spaniels, and Staffordshire bull terriers. This makes it even more impawtent to train these breeds well when they’re puppies to reduce the risk of them developing anxiety.
Past Traumatic Experiences:
If you got your dog as a rescue, they may have experienced past trauma such as abandonment which can predispose them to separation anxiety. Other scary events that your pooch may have experienced whilst you were away from them such as robberies and dog fights, may also increase the risk of them getting anxious when left at home alone.
Poor Puppy Training and Over-Attachment:
As tempting as it is to give your new puppy cuddles and smooches 24/7 if they aren’t learning good independence skills at a young age, they can be more prone to developing separation anxiety. It’s impawtent to teach your pup that it’s okay to be left alone from time to time to prevent over-attachment. This is particularly the case for busy pawfessionals who can’t be with them all day long.
Picture this, you’re at home alone all day with nothing to do, even you’d probably start overthinking about life dramas and stressing over work deadlines. Your pup is no different…well, maybe they’re not thinking about work deadlines but they’re probably thinking about you! If your pup isn’t stimulated throughout the day they are more prone to anxiety and stress which can then lead to destructive behaviour.
Adopting your Dog at an Older Age, Lack of Exercise, and Noise Sensitivity:
Research into canine anxiety suggests that these are all factors that can also play a part in your pooch developing separation anxiety.
How to Help Your Pooch with Separation Anxiety:
Prevention is key in reducing the risk of your dog developing separation anxiety, so teaching your dog that it’s okay to be left alone from a young age is crucial. Make sure to be diligent with crate training. Make their crate a safe haven filled with their favourite toys, cuddly things or a natural dog calming treat, so that they feel comfortable and maybe even enjoy spending time alone in their crate. We’ve written a whole article on how to crate train your puppy in 5 steps, so head over there for all the details.
Train Them So They Know It’s Okay to Be Alone:
To get your dog used to not being attached to your hip, leave them alone whilst you’re still at home to begin with. Move into another room or the back garden and then gradually build on this, leaving the house for short periods, and then drag this out longer and longer.
Teach them that you leaving the house is actually a good thing by giving them their favourite lip-smacking dog treat before you head out. You can also desensitise them to sounds that they associate with you leaving home such as the jingling of your keys or putting stompy boots on, by rewarding them with a treat when they hear those sounds. This way they may even start looking forward to you leaving them home alone.
When you first leave your pup at home for longer periods it’s also helpful to have someone check in on them or take them for a walk, then gradually reduce this until you have one independent doggo!
Keep them Occupied and Entertained:
As always you should always leave your pooch with plenty of things to keep them occupied with such as games and toys to keep them entertained whilst you’re gone. This will also help to reduce destructive behaviour caused by separation anxiety.
How Can Scrumbles Dog Calming Treats Help?
We know how hard it can be especially in the early days to start leaving your furry bestie at home whilst you’re grinding away at your 9 to 5.
That’s why we created our Nibbles Dog Calming Treats, to help keep your dog calm whilst you’re out and reduce stress caused by separation.
We use turkey, chamomile and lemon balm which are natural calming agents to help even the most stressed doggos chill out. Simply leave a few treats for your pup in their crate or bowl to help keep them calm whilst you’re away or even use them ahead of stressful periods such as fireworks season or long drives.
We also add prebiotic slippery elm bark for improved digestion, suitable for even the most sensitive of tums.
So if your pooch needs to take a chill pill or you’re on the hunt for high-quality natural dog food and treats head on over to our wide range of dog food and treats and explore all of the pawfect digestible and delicious options we have for your pet.