5 ways to help your dog with separation anxiety holiday cottages


5 ways to help your dog with separation anxiety

Ed Roberts 09 May 2024

Spending time with our beloved pets is one of the greatest pleasures in life – and while most of us would love to curl up on the sofa with them or take them with us instead of setting off on the daily commute, the fact is that sometimes, we do have to separate. 

When your pup gets anxious about being away from you, it can be hard to leave them. Dogs are loyal and devoted to their owners, and when you leave, an anxious dog can find themself exhibiting all sorts of behaviours to try and deal with their feelings.

If you're here because you've searched 'how to help separation anxiety in dogs', you'll be pleased to know that there are ways that we can gently help our pets to cope with separation anxiety. We asked our friends at Battersea what to do when your routine changes and you have to start leaving your dog at home – for example, if you have to return to the office after a period of working from home.

Dog looking up at owner, surrounded by things that they have broken while left alone.

Janine Pemberthy, Canine Behaviourist and Training Manager at Battersea says:

“It’s important to start the process of introducing your dog to a 'normal' [ ... ] routine, whatever that will mean for you, as soon as possible before your working and socialising habits [change]. 

"Giving both you and your dog time to readjust to their old routine, or to get used to a brand new one that they might not have experienced yet will really help.” 

Read on for tips on how to help separation anxiety in dogs, and while you're here, why not have a browse of our pet-friendly holiday homes for those times when you can be together every day? And for more tips and advice to keep your four-legged friend tail-waggingly happy and healthy, take a look at the other articles in our Canine Care series.

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What is dog separation anxiety?

Three photos: One of a dog with paws up on the door looking out of the window; one of a dog lying on a sofa that it has chewed to pieces; and one of a dog lying its head on its owner's slippers while being stroked.

Dog separation anxiety comes about in some of our dogs when they find themselves left at home for long periods of time. In some dogs, separation anxiety is a result of boredom, in others, the cause may be deeper, related to previous negative experiences of being left alone, for example. 

Their anxiety can manifest itself in the form of excessive paw-licking, howling, barking, panting, extreme salivation, and indoor urination and defecation. Destructive behaviour like chewing furniture and household items may also occur amongst dogs with separation anxiety. 

There are a few ways to help minimise the chances of your four-legged mate getting anxious when left alone. Read on for some handy tips on how to stop separation anxiety in dogs.

How to help separation anxiety in dogs

If you're looking for tips on curing dog separation anxiety quickly, it's important to understand that the following advice takes time to implement and become a habit. Some dogs' separation anxiety will ease quicker than others – the best thing that you can do is to start slowly and simply.

Introduce a new daily routine

Lady walking a dog in the evening sunshine along a path with grass and fence either side.

Gradually introduce a day-to-day routine to fit in with your new schedule. Dogs thrive on established routines, so be consistent about when you go for walks, feed, groom and play with them. Introduce these regular practices in combination with the other tips before you begin or return to your schedule that involves you being away from home.

Keep your greetings normal and routine

Man bending down saying goodbye to his golden retriever who is looking up at him.

On arrival or before you leave your home for work, begin to greet your dog without showing too much happiness or sadness. Showing too much emotion will heighten the feelings of stress and anticipation. Establish a routine when you are leaving them alone for a few hours, using a phrase like, “I’ll see you soon, be good.” Dogs love order; it helps them prepare for what comes next. 

It is always best to go out once your dog has been suitably exercised, emptied and fed. This way they start their day content and ready for a nap. 

Regulate skin-to-skin contact

A dog asleep on a person's arm, being stroked on the head.

If you've been spending a lot of time with your dog, they probably love the extra attention of a few extra snacks, strokes and cuddles. Touch intensifies a feeling of dependency in your pets, and for some, it makes it harder for them to cope alone. 

As you prepare for a schedule that involves leaving them at home regularly, establish a limited pattern of behaviour where you can play with and touch your dog, to wean them off very regular skin-to-skin contact. Another good solution to help your dog through the day is to let them have an old item of clothing with your scent on it to ease their nerves. They can keep it in their basket and sleep with it through the day until you return home.

Start leaving your dog in a different room

Two dogs asleep in a beautiful lounge with neutral decor.

Before you return to or begin a new routine, leave your pooch in a different room with the door closed for a short length of time. By doing this daily, they can begin to get used to being by themselves once more. Each time, increase their time alone; this is a good way for your pet to become accustomed to the change gradually. 

Leave your dog with one of their favourite toys and remove any hazards and precious items out of the room if you think your dog is likely to chew or break them through nervousness.

Buy your dog some puzzles and treats

Dog playing with a puzzle to try and get a treat.

An active mind is a wonderful distraction. Why not buy your dog some puzzle toys that unlock treats, or large bones for them to gnaw on? Take a look at dog-enrichment toys which are effective stimuli and can often stop your hound from getting bored and lonely. 

Toys, puzzles and treats are all positive indicators that you care and that being alone isn’t too bad after all. While it can be tough to see your dog in anguish, it is advisable to ignore it and not endorse bad behaviour. All the same, it is also vital to reward your pooch when they are successful and well-behaved. 

It’s also possible to make enrichment toys quite cheaply and with ease. Read our guide with some helpful tips for making DIY dog toys and treats.

More information about separation anxiety

Dog looking sad looking out of a rainy window.

For a more in-depth viewpoint on how to help separation anxiety in dogs, read Battersea's helpful article by clicking the button below. It offers detailed insights on how to help your dearest and best avoid becoming depressed and overwhelmed when you are away from home.

Reward your pooch with a dog-friendly holiday

Family enjoying the garden of a dog-friendly holiday cottage - a little boy is playing with giant Jenga, the adults are around the table, and a little girl is playing with her dog.

After a few months at work, why not reward your dog’s success with a holiday break at one of our self-catering dog-friendly cottages? We have properties to give you and your four-legged friend the best holiday ever. All that waiting and time apart can be put on hold in a new environment on a dog-friendly holiday. What could be better than that?

Our partnership with Battersea

At Canine Cottages, we're thrilled to team up with Battersea in a partnership built on shared values. This allows our team to support Battersea in its incredible work, ensuring our beloved dogs have all the love and attention they deserve. And our pals at Battersea are just as excited as we are about working together. 

You can sign up for The Battersea Way, Battersea's pet advice emails, or treat your dog to a well-deserved holiday by browsing our collection of paw-friendly cottages.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is a registered charity in England and Wales (Registered Charity No: 206394)

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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