Separation anxiety can be very stressful for both dogs and their owners. This is a guide about remedies for dogs with separation anxiety.
My dog had severe separation anxiety when we adopted him. His loving owner doted on him until the husband broke his hip, was taken away by medics in an ambulance and had to move into a nursing home that would not take large dogs.
Mason (age 2) then was placed in a foster home where he was spoiled by his foster family and became very attached. Enter my crazy family of 5 who on adopting him became his 3rd family in 3 months. Mason was an angel when we were home, but "freaked" out when we left him home alone and of course with three kids every time we left the house it was a little crazy (probably reminding him of the paramedics). Mason destroyed countless doorframes, prized possessions, several quits - including a down quilt, pooped all over the floor, etc. We tried shutting him in the bathroom, but guess what.. he can open doors. We tied putting him in a crate - but that totally freaked him out and he actually broke the crate and hurt himself. Enter a frantic trip to the vet and a dog trainer.
I've attached a link to the behavior training that worked for us below. Because he was so worked up, we did put him in doggy day care while we were at work for a few weeks while we started on the steps. The vet also ended up putting him on anti-anxiety meds (doggie Prozac) for a couple months and the first couple times we left him home alone we gave him a sedative just to knock him out a bit. It took a couple of months and then we were able to wean him off of all the meds. He is now able to stay home alone un-crated with no problems what-so-ever (for 6 years) and is a much happier/more confident dog. He plays with toys all the time now too, which he didn't do for months when we first adopted him. I won't lie, it was a lot of work, but so worth it and while we did put some money into daycare and meds, it was less than we had spent replacing the things he had destroyed. He has been a wonderful, wonderful family pet and I think he appreciates the work we put in.
What to do about a previously abused dog who has bad separation anxiety?
By 2reddogs from Wilm, DE
November 1, 2009
Reading all the entries makes my heart ache. Its been 8 years and I'm still feeling really sad about a Shi Tzu which I used to own. She was a present and truly adorable. Unfortunately, she must have been abused as she had serious separation anxiety, was afraid of loud sounds and rain and worse of all- corophagia (she ate her poop).
At that time, I was lucky enough to stay at home 24-7 and spent all my time with her, but even with lots of attention and kisses, if she was left alone for 5 minutes- she'd go hysterical.When it rained- her eyes would bulge, she'd shake uncontrollably and drool all over me, even though I would put her on my lap to comfort her. It didn't help that my other Shih Tzu is very possessive and when I gave Bubbles more attention, my older dog would get upset and pee on carpets in anger. Between the both of them, it was making my family very upset and my house very filthy.
Almost everyday Bubbles would eat her poop and pee on the mats. Then she'd jump up onto the sofa or bed where she was NOT allowed! I think I spent most hours just cleaning her and the places she soiled. When I took her to the vet for a check and her vaccinations, she was given a clean bill of health but I was advised to give her away or put her down (horrors!)but didn't have the heart to. She was obviously abused before and I didn't think another family would have as much time as I had to devote to her.So I kept trying to assure my poor dog that she was loved and safe even though it was honestly very difficult.
The vet prescribed pills to stop the corophagia but it didn't help. Things got really bad when she jumped onto the bed and pooped.Then ate it! I then went to see the pet store owner where she had been bought to ask about her, he said she had belonged to someone else and told me young females are like that so I should send her for breeding to stop the behaviour problems but I thought that advice sounded very illogical (he probably doesn't care at all about his dogs!) and refused.
I followed all other advise= gave lots of lavish praise and treats, walks (which she didn't particularly like, she just wanted to be hugged all the time) and crate training.She hated the first wire crate, the moment I put her in it- she'd run out- so I got her a plastic one- which she'd try to escape by scratching and biting at the door like possessed. And poop in it as well. I felt like some evil prison guard.
So I bought her a soft cushioned igloo-house with no door- she peed in that one and refused to sleep in it. The only place she slept was beside my bed-on a pile my clothes.
Last resort- I bought many pieces of metal grill fencing to link together and form a large open enclosure..which I moved to wherever I was so she could still see me- didn't help. She managed to climb out like some wonder dog, not before peeing in there too.
There is no happy ending to my story- I came home one day after being out for 4 hours and discovered her gone. She had been left with my husband who was home but was asleep on the sofa. We found a hole she had managed to somehow break and squeeze through the plastic netting I put over the base of the front door, (she had run out once before when there was a thunderstorm)
We searched for her all over for a long time but never found her and none returned her. She was with me for almost a year and except for the problems I mentioned, she was a very loving, intelligent, beautiful 1 yr old female. Can someone please tell me what else I could have done, to have helped her?
I still have her framed photo on my mantelpiece and feel so guilt ridden. Every time it rains now, I think of her and hope she is alive and well. Hopefully she is with a loving, patient family.
I thought the tips about calming puppies were awesome! I, too, have worked with dogs a lot, not in fostering, but I have been a groomer and worked for 2 vets. We own two adult dogs who can have some separation anxiety problems when we are away from home on vacations and such.
We have a very reliable person come 4 times each day that we are gone to care for them, but they still seem to go through some tough times so we have started leaving the radio on the entire time we are gone. It doesn't use that much electricity and it's nice not to come home to the after affects of severe separation anxiety!
I have a 6 month old Golden/Lab. She is very friendly. We started out just leaving her out when there was no one home. We would put a gate up to prevent her going up the stairs. We have two other dogs and they are both smaller then her. We would come home and the house would be destroyed and the gate would be down from her jumping over it.
So then we got a crate to put her in. We thought it would be better. It wasn't. She manages to move the crate a least three feet from where we left it. She even managed to get the smallest dog's bed in the crate. I don't know how she did that. She ended up breaking the crate. There is no point in her staying in. She's even busted out of it several times before breaking it.
Then we got her fixed at 5 months. We were hoping she would settle down a little bit, but the next day after being fixed, she would jump around and jump over two gates high when we try to block her from going up the stairs. I spoke to the veterinarian and they suggested to put a Thunder shirt on her. It calms her down just a little bit, but not enough. I do not even know how many shoes she tore up, as well as my mom's childhood books.
She is in training right now though. I talked to the trainer and she suggested to spray ammonia on the stuff we she tries to chew up. Please if you have any suggestions even if you may seem like it's stupid I would love advice. I would not consider it stupid. I just don't know what to do. Please help. I really do not want to do it, but if I have to I would have to get rid of her. :( I think light crates and gates are out of the question, though.
November 12, 2012
Kong toys are great, keeps the dog busy. Fill with peanut butter and freeze. Takes the dog longer to get the peanut butter out. Do Not use the Kong toy at any other time, just when you are going to be gone. Dog then learns he gets something special when you are gone. They say that the destruction happens within the first 30 minutes of you leaving. There also is a pherenome that you plug into the wall like you would Air Wick.
My dogs Missy and Duke, can sometimes be a bit overly playful while I'm at work. When I have come home in the past, one (or both) of them have ripped the stuffing from their play animals, and gotten into other mischief around the house. A friend had picked up this new CD that's out, made just for pet separation anxiety. She said it calmed her dog significantly - plus, she said she really liked the instrumental music as well. It's called 'Mood Music for Dogs' (And Dog Lovers) 'Gone for a Walk'.
I was skeptical at first, but she was insistent about how well it worked, so after a few more weeks of 'after-work dog mania' I tried the CD, and now I'm a believer. It worked the very first day! When I came home, Missy was laying on her side in dream heaven, Duke was in his chair, the beautiful music was playing (piano, strings, harp, and flute) and there was not one single disturbance in sight. I thought I was at the wrong house! The days have stretched into months since then, and my testimonial holds true about the difference it has made for my pets. I play the CD while I'm taking a bath or reading my magazines because the music is so relaxing in the background. So, my tip is, buy this CD. Plus, a CD player doesn't take as much electricity as a TV, and there's never loud commercials or static. I bought the CD online at cherylchristine.com, but my friend bought hers at the Salty Dog T-Shirt Factory on Hilton Head Island, SC
By Angela from Hilton Head Island, SC
By Cheapmel 1
I have a 10 month old puppy that has separation anxiety. I just rescued her 3 months ago. We have 3 other dogs that are older than her. She has eaten every dog cot we had along with an entire couch and she pees and poops when we are gone and when we go to bed even though she can go out 24/7.
They all go into a very large area in the basement at night and when we leave. I take them all out the regular door regularly when I'm home because she won't go out on her own the way the others do and she will just pee in the house instead of telling me she has to go. I love her, but this needs to stop or my husband is going to divorce me.
November 3, 2015
This seems like just plain anxiety, not really separation anxiety.
Your dog sounds like the omega in the pack. She doesn't want to go out when the others do. When you take her out you empower her, but as the low dog on the totem pole she feels unwelcome otherwise going where the others do.
You already have three dogs. What made you decide to take on another? In the wild, an unrelated puppy would not be allowed to join an already established pack. The puppy would be run off or possibly killed since the dominant female did not give birth to it. The dogs are only tolerating it because you say so, but it certainly feels the stress of not belonging.
Perhaps your puppy would be happier in a home with no other dogs, or a very elderly one.
Trying to provide a home for a rescue is admirable, but it needs to be the right home for the right dog. This doesn't seem like a good match to me.
I have two Pit Bulls, Honey is a fully grown Pit Bull 11 years old, and Blaze that is 6 years old. Everytime we leave they tend to destroy the house! We can't ever come home without having to clean up a mess. We have tried to put a gate up, but my 6 year old always tends to find a way out. We even tried to put the dinner table against it and he still finds a way out. They were never trained, I have no idea why. My brother was the owner, but he moved out and left them here. We need a solution because it's so embarrassing having company over and having to make them wait and have to clean. I have given up, I need help!
By Brianna Q.
August 21, 2013
Quick answer: buy TWO large dog crates (all metal, should cost you around $75USD (£55GBP) and crate the dogs when you are leaving or when you need to have them contained. Be sure they have water, a comfortable cushion on the floor of the crate, and something safe to gnaw while you are away.
Longer answer: invest in some training. No dog is too old to learn civilised behaviour. Your local Parks and Recreation (or council Leisure Services) will probably have low-cost pet training classes and as a former US AKC registered Boxer breeder-owner-breed lover, I cannot recommend these low-cost programmes highly enough. Here in the UK where I now live the cost is even lower, they are trying to get dog owners to understand that a well-trained, co-operative dog is a much happier dog and owner.
You can also find excellent books on training older dogs in your local library; great breed-specific info on training older Pits is also available online. Use the search term 'training older pit bulls' to find some great online resources!
If you can't get these dogs under control (and the sooner the better!), please consider using a breed-specific rescue group to rehome them to a home where their special needs are understood and they will receive the training they need.
By Erin 1
How can I stop my 8 month old Pit Bull from crying and barking when I leave the house? He is an extremely well-behaved dog, always has been, but he seems to suffer from separation anxiety when my husband or I leave.
I am currently expecting my first child, so the dog is rarely left alone (and when he is it's for 4 hours or less), but with a lot of upcoming doctor appointments, I am worried the problem will continue. I always make sure to leave the radio or TV on when I go out, leave him a big bowl of fresh water, toys, and his Kong to keep him occupied, but it doesn't seem to help.
We live in an apartment building and keep getting complaints from the neighbors. If it continues we have been told we may be forced to give him up. Please help me! I need a solution that will actually work. I can't stand the thought of losing him, but with a baby on the way, I cannot afford to lose my home either.
By Erica from Seattle, WA
February 20, 2011
My dog had separation anxiety (the tear and destroy type) when I adopted him. I spent a lot of time at the vet and dog trainers figuring out how to deal with it. This is what they recommended:
1) Try a Dog Appeasement Pheromone (DAP) collar (they have them at the vets). The collar gives off the same soothing hormone that the mother dog gives off when she's nursing to calm and sooth the puppies. I found it really helped Mason feel safe.
2) Ignore your dog before you leave and for at least 10 minutes after you come home. This helps them from thinking your leaving is a big deal.
3) Have a phrase that you use every time you leave that means you'll be back. I use "Mason, be good" as I shut the door. He knows it means I'll be gone for a while, but he knows I'll come back.
4) Desensitize your dog by picking up your keys and moving them, leaving for a minute and coming back, then leaving for longer time so he gets used to you coming and going. This could really help, since you say you don't leave the house often.
5) Obedience training generally helps your dog feel more self-assured. Reward low key calm behavior, not jumping or whining.
We finally ended up putting him on Reconcile (doggie Prozac) for a couple months until he adjusted to our house. We've had him for a year and a half now and he does awesome! I've also heard that some dogs do better if you use a crate.
Our 8 year old Rat Terrier has developed separation anxiety when we both leave the house together and do not take her with us. She has started urinating in the bedrooms while we are out.
Can anyone give me advice for how to prevent this from happening each time we go out? We walk her 2 miles in the morning and the same in the evening. She always pees and poops on both trips. Thanks for any help someone can give me.
February 13, 2010
Two suggestions: Try leaving the TV or radio on so there is some people noise for him to hear. Also, get him one of those toys that you put a treat inside of and the dog keeps busy trying to get to the treat. Give your dog lots of affection when you return home even if he has had an accident.
Hope you solve your problem!
I have a 7 year old German Shepherd hound mix and he has separation anxiety issues. For the first 3 years I was always home, but then I started working. He cries, barks, whines, howls, and is destructive. He has chewed part of walls, doors, and furniture. I get him toys, give him treats when he is good, play with him all the time, etc. I don't know what else to do. I want to look into home herbal remedies. I tried medication and it did not work. Someone help us!
September 18, 2013
Crate him, if possible. Also, leave the TV or radio on so he hears voices and doesn't feel alone. Perhaps a special toy for while your gone? I have two JRTs 1 year old. I pay a friend $25.00 a week to come in twice a day to take them out of their crate and go potty. She loves the extra money and does it according to her schedule. Her little girl loves the dogs and I have peace of mind knowing that they are being cared for and do not have to hold it all day.
What was the Japanese flute music mentioned as being helpful? Thought I might be able to find some at the library. Thanks.
January 29, 2012
The music I was referring to in my suggestion is Shakuhachi Meditation Music by Stan Richardson. You can find the CD online at around $3 for a used CD and $10 for a new CD. It really does quickly relax my pets. Hope you find it helpful.
By Carol O. 1
I have a new puppy. I got her 2 weeks ago and she uses the puppy pad most of the time. However when I leave the house just to check the mail or whatever reason for a minute or two, she will poop in front of the door right where I would step when I come back in.
I would take her with me, but she barks at everyone who comes near me and I'm working on that as well. I went to the store yesterday and she stayed with my adult daughter. My daughter said she sat at the door and cried for me the whole time I was gone, she would pick her up and try to calm her down, but she would fight her to get away and back to the door waiting for me.
How can I stop her from pooping in front of the door like that? And how can I train her to be calm until I get back? I don't like her being so sad when I leave. She is crate trained, but I don't want to put her in there for a minute or two. Any advice? She is only 6 months old. I should also mention she is a rescue dog that was first taken to the shelter where she was rescued from a no kill rescue, then adopted only to be returned as she was too playful for the elderly couple. So she has abandonment issues I'm sure.
June 17, 2015
It sounds like she has separation anxiety. I had that problem with my dog when we adopted him. You need to desensitize them to you walking out the front door. That means you pick your keys up and walk around with them. Open the door and immediately come back in. Come up with a "be good" command that you say when you leave but other than that don't make a big fuss about leaving or returning (the more fuss you make the more she'll think it's a BIG scary deal).
It REALLY helps if you take your dog to obedience training - one of the things they work on is staying when you walk around a corner so she'll learn to trust that you'll be back - plus she'll learn other polite behaviors (like not barking at strangers) AND the trainer is a huge help if you have any questions about problems like this. I dug up an article that has the same steps that my dog trainer gave me. It seems silly and is a fair bit of effort but it REALLY works.
My dog used to whine and poop and even trash the house whenever we left the house when we first got him. It took about 2 months of re-training (and doggy prozac in his case) to see improvements, and about 6 months until he was "cured", but ever since. he's been an angel when we are gone and a lovable family member for for 6 years. I'm so glad I put the time into him.
I have a 2 year old brindle American Stafford, and she always wants to be around someone. When I leave for work, she looks at me as if I was going to take her with me. I can be gone for only 15 minutes and when I return, she will have pooped on the floor as if she is getting back at me. She seems to be pretty upset that she was left alone because she would chew up everything in sight. What can I do to stop this behavior?
By Eddie from Staten Island, NY
January 24, 2015
First of all, dogs don't "revenge poop." That's a common myth about dogs. Your dog has separation anxiety. That means she gets stressed when she is not with you. What you are seeing is nervous or stressed behavior, not spite.
As for what to do: I could probably give you some advice but I'd need to know a few more things: Who else lives in your house? Is your dog alone when you go to work? Does someone else, like a housekeeper, ever come in?
There are a few too many variables for me to know what to tell you right now.
I just picked up my girl on Friday. I was warned of her separation anxiety. Leaving last night, I placed her in my room and left the radio on, per the advice I received. When arriving home, it was nothing I had ever seen before. She completely destroyed the bedroom door and literally broke through my children's bedroom window. I was told of her fear of cages, which is why I opted against it as it was part of her abusive puppyhood. Any other suggestion other than what has already been posted?
I have a 5 year old yellow Lab. I got her about 2 months ago. She was a kennel dog and was never in a house and was never a family dog. She is a sweet heart and does awesome with everyone. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body.
Here's where the problem comes in. When left alone all day she is fine, doesn't pee or poop in the house. She goes all night without going in the house. If I am inside she is at my side no more then 3 feet away. When I give my son a bath there isn't enough room in my bathroom for all 3 of us, so I have to shut the door and lock her out. Well that's when she pees on the floor. If I am home and shut her out she pees on the floor even if there are other people in the house. Please help.
I have a 3 year old female Siberian Husky. We adopted her a little over two years ago from the Humane Society. She is completely housebroken and over all a very well behaved dog.
She is very attached to my fiance and acts like a completely different dog whenever he is not around. She has started to pee on the floor right after I let her out and she pees outside, not a lot, but enough to let me know! I think it might have something to do with the separation of her and my fiance now that he is working a lot.
I don't really know what to do. We've tried walking her as soon as he gets home so she still feels the one on one connection. She has been checked by the vet, no bladder problems. Whenever he has a day off he takes her out walking to parks, fishing, etc.
I lock her up and she won't do it at all, but I can't leave my dog in a cage for 9 hrs a day until he gets home, when I am here. I just can't do it. Has anyone ever had this problem before and can you help me?
By Britt from IN