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How to manage (and prevent) your pup's separation anxiety.

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

Every dog is different. But they all have one thing in common: none of them like being left alone.

When we leave the house, usually, it’s no big deal and our pup is just bummed-out for a moment or two when we leave. But since we’ve been with them 24/7 for the past 5 weeks or so, our sudden absence could be pretty traumatic. And even pups who haven’t suffered from anxiety before the lock down, may react very badly to being left alone after so much togetherness. But don't worry, there are ways that you can start to prepare your fluff for your absence now, so it doesn’t come as a complete shock to their system when you do actually leave them for longer periods.  

WHAT CAUSES SEPARATION ANXIETY IN DOGS? No one knows for sure why some dogs develop separation anxiety and others don’t. It’s seen a lot more in rescue and shelter dogs than dogs adopted as puppies into forever homes, which makes sense. But other situations can cause it, too. Most likely, separation anxiety is caused by big changes like: A change in routine: If there are changes to your work schedule routines, that can trigger anxiety in pets. For example, if your routine goes from taking them into work everyday to leaving them at home for 6 hours - they can become worried and feel alone.

A change in family: Being abandoned, put up for adoption or passed over to a new owner can cause lack of stability and separation anxiety in some dogs.

Moving: Moving to a new home, especially early in life, can trigger separation anxiety.

Loss (or extended absence) of a family member: dogs create very strong bonds with their owners and family members and the loss of them, due to either death or divorce, can trigger separation anxiety. They're pack animals by nature and when there's change in their pack, this can cause distress.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SEPARATION ANXIETY? We’ve all heard the stories of wrecked homes, potty incidents, barking and howling, escape attempts, and other troubles. It can get pretty serious pretty fast, and a single blog post just can’t cover everything there is to say on this complicated subject.

However, here are some common symptoms, that will give you a clue into if your pet has separation anxiety: • Urinating and pooping in the house • Barking and howling • Chewing, digging and general destruction • Escaping • Pacing • Coprophagia (eating their own poop)

CAN CBD REDUCE SEPARATION ANXIETY IN DOGS? There’s lots of evidence showing CBD as an effective treatment for severe anxiety like that seen in pups with separation issues. 

One study, for example, found that 79% of people taking CBD experienced less anxiousness. And a recent Japanese project showed that CBD “significantly decreased anxiety” in teenagers who had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder.

Even more exciting, researchers have discovered that CBD possibly reduces what's called learned fear or automatically fearful reactions to certain situations that have been “taught” to us by our previous experiences. CBD may do more than simply chill things out in the moment. It may also help us “unlearn” habitual fears, so that we’re unafraid when we confront the same circumstances in the future.

While these studies are on people not dogs, more often than not what works for us works for our fur babies, too and we’ve heard plenty of positive feedback from our friends and customers that when it comes to CBD, dogs and separation anxiety, it works and it works well.

HOW DO I USE CBD FOR SEPARATION ANXIETY? When dealing with anxiety, we recommend a few things: Dosage: As every dog is different (a german shepherd will need a higher dosage than a dachshund), see your pack for details or email us.

When: If your doggo has issues when you leave, try giving them CBD about half an hour before you go. That allows the CBD to start working before you leave and before they get into an anxious mindset. Consistency: Make sure to give CBD to your dog every day, at the same time, to see the best results. If, after a few days, the amount you gave is not enough, feel free to increase the amount until you see them feeling calmer and happier when you leave.

Along with giving your pup CBD, there are also some steps that you can take to help prevent separation anxiety from happening.

MOCK LEAVING ROUTINE: You will only need about 5-10 minutes to get started. Always make sure your dog has had a bathroom break and a walk to ensure they will be able to settle during this exercise. It’s ideal to allow your dog or puppy to settle down anywhere they want to for this exercise, so it's best to confine them (with one of their toys).

STEP 1: Put on your coat/pick up your keys/get ready. Go out and immediately come back in again. Ignore your dog completely until they settle themselves (laying down). STEP 2: Go out again and immediately return. Ignore your dog completely until they settle themselves down again. Repeat this as many times as it takes until you see your dog has stopped being at all interested in what you’re doing and either become absorbed in their toy or is in a dozy, relaxed state. STEP 3: Repeat as above, but now go out and wait 5 seconds. Return and repeat until your dog is relaxed. Gradually increase this time to 10 seconds, working up to 30 seconds and 1 minute, as you see that it gets easier and easier for your dog to relax. You may progress through all of this in one or two sessions. Or, if your dog becomes hyper-alert and worried when you go out, it may take you a week and several sessions a day. A lot depends on your individual dog. It can be a tedious process for you, but you will reap the rewards!

All these exercises are done with zero eye contact and zero speech. By doing this, your dog can see, smell and feel your emotions and surroundings. You’re giving them the brain space to work it out for themselves with no interruption.

Why does zero eye contact and zero speech help to stop anxiety? Eye contact and speech are both forms of communication. When silent conversations are happening, it gives your dog no chance to rest, relax and drift off to a happy, sleepy place.

When you move around the house doing what you need, it helps your dog to be completely relaxed. If you look at your pup while walking, it will make them feel like you need them and want them with you all the time. If you do this, your pup is never given the opportunity to relax when you are in. LEAVE FOR LONGER & LONGER TIME PERIODS Once you've reached the 5-minute mark, you might like to start walking away from the house/flat, and then turn and walk back to the house/flat again. Repeat this until your dog is completely relaxed. Work up to 10-15 minute increments. If you have a corner shop near you, go and get some toilet paper (haha!) or some milk. By the time you reach this sort of length of time, the number of repetitions you’re going to be able to do each day will be much fewer. Try to get a couple of sessions in each day. The good news is that the first 15 minutes of being left are the hardest time for any dog and the time when separation anxiety in dogs is most likely to kick in. If you’ve reached this length of time with no problems, it’s very likely you’re in the clear!

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