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Remedies for Dogs With Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be very stressful for both dogs and their owners. This is a guide about remedies for dogs with separation anxiety.


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June 23, 2015 Flag

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.


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June 24, 20150 found this helpful

Thanks for posting this! Unfortunately, many dogs are abandoned or left at shelters because their people do not want to help the dogs with their problems. Hopefully this will convince a few people to put in the effort. People are the cause of these problems in the first place, so it's only fair that someone should be willing to make the effort to correct them. Thank you for being a family that was willing to help this dog and make his life better!

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April 12, 2005 Flag

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.

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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!

By Robin

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October 29, 20120 found this helpful

Saying "Now go lay down" is a great idea. I would agree if a dog knows what this means. On the other hand, I have a Golden Retriever who is very skittish and also very active. If I let her, she would come to me every 2-3 hours to ask me to take her outside in the back yard and throw the ball for her.

I am disabled, so this isn't something easily done for me. I have been saying, "Go lie down" (lie is grammatically more correct than lay) and she does. If I were to say that to her each time she hears a fire cracker or a very loud truck rumbling down it would be an overkill.

What I do is hold her, mostly press on her chest, which is comforting and stops any shaking that she may be experiencing. I also give her 4 drops of Rescue Remedy which sometimes helps. Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic Bach Remedy made out of plants and flowers. 100% safe for people as well as animals. But expensive at Sprouts. Holding your dog fairly tight is the same thing that's used on humans by the way, and it does work wonders on your frightened dog or cat.

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December 28, 20071 found this helpful

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'.

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January 7, 2017 Flag

I started fostering a black Lab/Boxer/Pit Bull mix 3 weeks ago. I believe she has separation anxiety which has been causing me anxiety throughout my day at work. She can tell when I'm getting ready for work and she follows me from room to room and when I'm just sitting watching TV she makes sure she is right next to me or on top of me.

I've tried to make it less noticeable when I'm getting ready to leave for work by waiting until I have her locked in the bedroom before putting my shoes and coat on. But she's a pretty smart dog and she knows when I'm about to leave and she tries her very best to not go into the bedroom. I leave the TV on for her and a sound maker. She cries for a while and eventually gives up, but lately her crying has been louder and lasting longer. Since I got her 3 weeks ago, almost every day I have come home to poop on the floor in the bedroom. The other day she had pooped in the bedroom before I ever walked out the door to head to work and this was 10 minutes after I had let her outside.

How do I help her be less stressed when I leave for work and how do I get her to stop pooping in the bedroom? She is 5 years old. She was used as bait in a dog fight with 5 other dogs. She never has accidents in the house when I am home and she is very well trained, minus her accidents while I am gone. Thank you.

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January 8, 20170 found this helpful

Make sure you feed the dog at the same time every day. Take the food away between meals. Extra food may cause an accident

Make sure you take the dog out at the same time every day as well.

All accidents must be thoroughly cleaned up so that the territory is not marked.

If you catch your dog in the act,

immediately clap your hands to startle him. It does no good to do this after the fact.

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January 9, 20170 found this helpful

How sad to know that a dog has been abused and then have to feel that you must punish them to correct a fear that probably came from that abuse.

My son had to take his days off to try and correct a similar problem.

This solution will only work if you have a baby monitor with intercom.

Be sure your dog has already been outside before doing this.

Ask a friend to help if necessary  act like you are leaving (out the door) but someone has to stay behind to watch the video and use the intercom to tell the dog NO or clap your hands if they start to squat to poop. Maybe it will startle the dog and get their mind off pooping.

This may take a few times but I have seen it work.

Leaving and returning should be very low key and maybe leave some of your old clothing for the dog to snuggle in, or leave the radio or TV on for a while.

Does the dog have another room to stay in? Maybe that might help.

Hope something helps this beautiful pup.

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November 1, 2015 Flag

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.

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November 3, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

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November 1, 20150 found this helpful

Have you tried crate training? Helps with all kinds of behavioral problems. If you need more information about it let me know.

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November 10, 2012 Flag

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.

By Lauren

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November 12, 20120 found this helpful

We adopted a dog with severe separation anxiety, so I've been there. It's awful to come home and find precious heirlooms destroyed. What worked for us was a combination of training and medication. We used a combination of a pheromone collar (sold over the counter at the vets office) and a doggy Prozac prescription.

We also put him in doggy daycare for a couple weeks while we worked up to leaving him home alone for longer and longer periods of time. Once the anxiety was under control, we worked on desensitizing him to having us leave. We'd pick up the keys and set them back down, get our coats on and not leave, walk out the door and come back in. Basically mess around with the cues that we were leaving so they didn't make him so anxious.

Once he was calm about us leaving, we were able to leave him home on the meds, then slowly wean him off the meds. Now he stays home alone just fine with no medications (as long as you don't leave any blankets out).

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November 12, 20120 found this helpful

Someone may have already suggested it, but does your dog get a lot of exercise? As in 45 minute walks twice a day. Exercise has a powerful impact on anxiety. Good luck!

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June 14, 2016 Flag

I am just looking for ideas that worked for you to get him or her to stop crying, scratching the rug, and the door every time you left.

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February 28, 20170 found this helpful

According to Cesar Millan of Dog WHisperer, you CAN train your dog to feel secure enough an happy enough that he stops these behaviours.

His main two ingredients for a balanced dog who does not do this are

1 exercise (this means walk him a lot, till he's pretty tired)

2 discipline (in a firm but kind voice have him understand that his behaviour is not acceptable)

just by telling him NO firmly without getting upset or without babying him too much he will calm down and learn to be different.

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

Ignoring unacceptable behavior stops it quickly. Reward good behavior.

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August 19, 2013 Flag

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.

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August 20, 20130 found this helpful

Do they have access to durable bones for strong chewers? That can help a lot. Pit Bulls are big chewers and sometimes that will be enough to occupy them. We crate train our dogs, so our Pit just stays in her crate when we aren't home. If left out, she will find things to chew on.

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August 21, 20130 found this helpful

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.

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August 11, 2009 Flag

What to do about a previously abused dog who has bad separation anxiety?

By 2reddogs from Wilm, DE

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August 13, 20090 found this helpful

I don't know if you would want to do it, but we got another little dog to keep our sweetie company. That seemed to calm him down. He would still get anxious once in a while and run behind the couch when we were leaving, but his distructive behaviour of pulling on the curtians at the window stopped for good.

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August 17, 20090 found this helpful

Try playing with the dog each time you are leaving him, to tire him, running, fetch etc. Then leave him something to chew on and or a treat or two. Please try and ensure when you return you always give him a treat and cuddle or play for even a few minutes. Hopefully this way he associates your going and coming with happy things.

I have a little doggie, and when I return, first thing I pick him up and cuddle and play him so he has some time with me.

I must confess this is one of my worries too, and I am still working on it. As mine is a small spoilt brat recently acquired I think it is due to his having someone to be with him most of the time.

I do applaud and take hats off to the kind generous people who take in abused and stray animals. May God bless you and all others who treat animals with love and care.

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June 15, 2015 Flag

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.

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June 17, 20150 found this helpful

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.

http://www.shel  ationAnxiety.pdf

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January 10, 2015 Flag

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

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January 24, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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September 16, 2013 Flag

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!

By Diana

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September 18, 20130 found this helpful

I know it may sound cruel but have you consider crating him when you are at work? If you live close enough to run home on your lunch break or have a trusted neighbour who can stop in to give him a potty break, crating works wonderfully for a dog with SA.

I had to go back to work after my divorce in '99 (after being home with children and dogs for over 18 years) and one of my Boxers did not take the changed routine well at all!

He was already crate trained; I'd never left him in it for more than an hour or two at a time when I went on grocery and school runs but he adapted nicely to the longer length of crate time. I would pop home at lunch to let him into the back garden to 'stretch his legs' and didn't do overtime if I knew my son or DIL couldn't stop in to give him another break.

He was never crated more than 4 hours without a break so it worked very well for me and him.

Sadly he died aged 13 years in the pet food contamination horror (2007). I miss him terribly. My life has changed since 2007 - I'm retired now and home with my new (2011, and also retired) husband but still can't bring myself to have another dog. We have a Siamese-Abyssinian cat we love completely, but oh how I miss that dog! One day perhaps...

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September 18, 20130 found this helpful

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.

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February 17, 2011 Flag

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

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Anonymous Flag
February 17, 20110 found this helpful

I have heard that people sometimes record their voice on the computer, then have it loop, and let it play all day while they are gone. You and your husband could record a long conversation. Then to test it out, start the recording, get in the car and drive away. Park about a block away, then walk back to the house (your dog would hear the car approach) and see if it is working. Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

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February 18, 20110 found this helpful

If the other suggestion doesn't work, you could try giving the dog calming medicine a half hour before leaving home. It's inexpensive and might help.

Classical music is also calming. My husband played it when I left the house after noticing my bonded female cried. This relaxed all the pets and they took a nap. It's sedating without calming medicine.

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January 27, 2012

Closeup of dog.

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What was the Japanese flute music mentioned as being helpful? Thought I might be able to find some at the library. Thanks.

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