Separation anxiety can be very detrimental for your dog, and can be caused by many different situations, usually involving change. For example, being left alone when used to having people around, a change of ownership, moving from a shelter to a home, change in family routine, loss of a family member, etc.
Regardless of the cause, the negative behaviors can be much more obvious. Common destructive behavior can be wrecking your living room by shredding pictures and pillows (as seen in viral videos). Additional behaviors indicating stress are, panting and drooling, excessive barking, growling, and urinating or defecating inside. It’s important to look for these behavioral patterns, so you can differentiate separation anxiety from lack of house manners or puppy disobedience.
There are anti-anxiety supplements that may help alleviate your pet’s anxiety: chamomile flower powder, ginger root powder, passion flower powder, and L-Tryptophan. There are many types of L-Tryptophan to choose from. CBD may also help in these instances. Read our post "Dogs and CBD" to learn more.
In order to save your home from complete annihilation, one approach is to teach your pet to enjoy, or at least be able to handle, being alone. For example, in milder cases, before you go, leave a puzzle toy stuffed with food (like a KONG) to keep them preoccupied and distracted from your departure. Also, if frozen, the treat can keep your pet busy longer. If possible, you can also hide the puzzle toy so it makes the game even more fun. Upon returning, remove these highly sought after toys, so your pet looks forward to this treat when you leave next time. This will associate a positive experience with your departure instead of anxiety and loneliness.
You can also try to make your departure less scary by gradually staying away for longer periods of time. In addition, it can be beneficial to do interactive exercises with your pooch before you leave, such as tug of war, fetch, or a walk. If none of these tactics work, it is best to bring in the professionals. For example, consider hiring a certified dog trainer. You may also benefit from hiring a professional pet sitter to stay with your dog while you are away. Whatever path you choose, do not scold them for their behavior. They are already stressed and this will only make things worse. As usual, take a deep breath, stay positive and maybe keep your favorite pillows and pictures out of reach!