Tips for Managing Separation Anxiety in Dogs

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anxious dogToday’s guest post is by Kate Voss. Kate is an entertainment writer from Chicago, IL who is the proud owner of her Chow/Shepard mix, Margot.

As dog owners we are generally willing to do just about anything within reason to help our dogs live happy, comfortable lives, and minimize issues common to man’s best friend when he shares our home and our life. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, about 10 to 15 percent of all dogs, regardless of their breed, size, or age, have some form of separation anxiety, a type of mental anguish dogs experience when left alone without their “pack.” Since dogs are pack animals they may react to this lack of stimulation and community by acting out, perhaps by barking, partaking in destructive behavior, or even defecating in the home.

 

Sadly, separation anxiety is one of the most common reason dogs are euthanized or given away by owners. The owners may not even be aware of their dog’s condition, and likely won’t know how to alter the dog’s bad behavior. However, separation anxiety in dogs can be relieved by providing your dog with mental stimulation while you are out, using proper separation anxiety training methods and making sure your dog has had adequate exercise before you leave.

 

There are a few options for providing your dog with mental stimulation that will also keep him calm and well-behaved when he’s alone. One option that’s been popular among dog owners, beyond calming coats or collars, is providing dogs with an auditory or visual distractions, such as the radio or television. However, while this works for some dogs, others simply bark at the television screen or ignore it completely and are left to bark your neighbor’s ear off instead. As ridiculous as television for dog may sound, the newly introduced DOGTV channel claims to have fixed problems associated with regular television by creating content specific to a dog’s sense of vision and hearing with programs colored to match canine vision and audio frequencies tailored to a dog’s ear.

 

If the quality of this television network may have improved the experience for dogs, does this mean that every dog will watch DOGTV? The answer is “probably not,” since every dog responds to audio and visual stimulation differently. There are many critics who say tv for dogs will never work, period. That may be the case for some dogs, but for others, including the thousands of dogs whose photos are showcased on Twitter, DOGTV at least appears to be capturing their dogs’ (if not their owners’) attention.

 

For some, an easier option to help mentally stimulate and calm your dog while away might be playing music. Music in lower octaves and with solid chords, such as Through a Dog’s Ear, has been proven to help some dogs who suffer with separation anxiety. Apparently, the slower the music, the calmer your pup becomes. Simply leaving a quiet radio on, set to a classical music station, may also help your lonely pup. Again, while audio stimulation has worked for some, there’s no guarantee it will work for all dogs.

 

Creating puzzles for your dog to solve before you leave, such as filling a Kong toy with treats, or building a maze around the home lined with snacks, might be yet another possibility to help keep your dog’s mind off of their boredom and prevent them from resorting to destructive behavior for entertainment.

 

Most importantly, as the saying says, a tired dog is a good dog. Before you leave the home for long periods, make sure your pup has had a nice long, fast-paced walk or run. Dogs that are well exercised will most likely rest while you are away instead of getting into trouble at home.

 

So, to help ease your dog’s discomfort and anxiety while away from the home, make sure your dog is mentally and physically stimulated before and during your absence. Whether your solution is turning on the television or radio, or creating fun obstacle courses in your home, you are helping provide your dog relief from separation anxiety while also keeping your home in order.
 
We’re linking up to the This ‘N That Thursday Blog Hop with a little of this and a little of that, sponsored by 2 Brown Dawgs and Ruckus the Eskie!

 



 

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15 Comments

  1. That was a great post 🙂
    YourSpecialdog recently posted…Christmas dogsMy Profile

  2. Bentley absolutely loves listening to Sirius XM radio “Watercolors” station. It is a light classical station and he will go belly-up and snooze within minutes of hearing the soothing sounds. We leave it playing anytime we leave the house.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…This and That ThursdayMy Profile

  3. Thanks so much for linking to TNT. Excellent info. We often play music or leave the tv on for the dogs when we are out. It especially works when we are staying at a hotel and need to leave them in the room for a bit.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

  4. That was such good information, we kitties have some of those same issues.
    Brian Frum recently posted…Thankful Thursday: Mixed Emotions on 2013 plus a nice award from NoodleMy Profile

  5. I always wondered about the Dog TV thing. I wanted to try it but it’s $10 a month! We do sometimes leave the radio on for our dog.
    Furry Wiggle Butts recently posted…This Crazy Pooch!My Profile

  6. Ooo my sapiens have tried the radio approach. They play classic music for me. It seems to help a bit.

    Thanks for linking up with This ‘N That Thursday Blog Hop! See you next week, if not earlier.
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…I’m Jumping Through Hoops for Ya!My Profile

  7. As a Vet separation anxiety is one of the saddest conditions I see in dogs. This is a great review of the condition, and I’m glad you don’t suggest just getting another dog, as quite often that doesn’t help much. The dog in question is usually so incredibly bonded to humans, that another dog doesn’t really help them.

    I have only recently heard about the idea of using noise to help, and as you say it doesn’t help all dogs. We don’t have dog TV in Australia, but I see one of your readers has used Through a Dogs Ear, has anyone else had any success with it?

    We’re coming up to fireworks season, and anxious dogs often experience even more trauma with fireworks and loud noises. I expect there will be quite a number of dogs needing medications to help them through this stressful time. Providing a ‘den’ in a quiet room of the house and giving them something to chew as a stress-reliever can also help.

    Great article!

    Again, great article

    • While neither of our dog’s have separation anxiety, they both have “regular” anxiety 🙂 We’ve used Through a Dog’s Ear and really like it. It totally soothes Jack down even if there is stuff going on that makes him anxious. We also know of several reader’s who use the ThunderShirt and swear by it.
      mkob recently posted…Options for Exercising With Your Dog: PetsMove Mutt-a-Thon TipsMy Profile

  8. Any tips for managing separation anxiety in people? I’m the one suffering when my dogs are not around for me to see what they’re doing 😉
    Jana Rade recently posted…Scar Tissue: Is it Too Much of a Good Thing?”My Profile

  9. Separation anxiety has been one thing we haven’t had to deal with; but our dogs do get bored so it was important not to leave things around that they can destroy when we’re away. And I’ve learned to spend the money and invest in some heavy duty chew toys to keep our dogs occupied. So far so good – fingers crossed.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…PetsMove Inspires Me to Keep Our Dogs Fit and Healthy #MoveYourMuttMy Profile

    • We just found a new kong type toy that kept Jack busy for hours today…
      mkob recently posted…Resolve to Move Your MuttMy Profile

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