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7 Home Remedies for Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Developed in collaboration with Andrea Johnson, DVM | Co-Founder | PetVet365

Last reviewed: February 16, 2024

Separation anxiety is the most common reason for stress in dogs, but there are remedies you can do at home to help ease your dog’s fear. Let's look at the symptoms and causes of separation anxiety as well as techniques that may help reduce them.

Key Facts
  • Separation anxiety is a condition in which a dog exhibits distress and behavior problems when separated from its person.
  • It is the most common stressor in dogs.
  • It is not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety while others do not.
  • Exercise, training, and reconditioning can help relieve stress and anxiety.
  • In some cases, medication is the best option.

How to Know if Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs is a condition in which a dog exhibits distress and behavior problems when separated from its person.

Most dogs with separation anxiety want to remain close to their owners at all times. They may follow them from room to room, crave attention and physical contact, or not want to spend time outdoors without them. This behavior can be misinterpreted as “love” by many owners but it is a sign of a lack of confidence and foundation for mental stability in dogs.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Behavioral problems may start as soon as its human prepares to leave. Your dog may begin to whine, seek your attention, or become withdrawn and seem depressed before you go.

Once you are gone, they may become destructive. They may do things like destroy shoes, "eat" the couch, or defecate throughout the house.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
  • Destructive Behavior
  • Depression/Withdrawal
  • Excessive Barking/Howling
  • Shaking/Shivering
  • Attention Seeking
  • Heavy Panting or Drooling
  • Aggression
  • “Accidents”
  • Refusal to Eat

Source: American Kennel Club

Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

It is not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others do not. Some causes include changes in pet parents, new socialization patterns, changes in surroundings, neglect, long stays away from home, lack of training, premature adoption, death of a pet friend, heredity, genetics, or simply boredom.

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dogs

1. Downplay Exits and Returns Home

By keeping hellos and goodbyes calm, you are signaling to your anxious pet that there is nothing to worry about while you are gone.

  • Don’t go over the top with your departure and return. Doing so will reinforce your dog’s fear of you leaving and give them more to worry about while you’re gone.
  • Calmly say goodbye when you leave and, when you return, calmly greet them.
  • Don’t get too affectionate right away, wait until they have settled.
  • If you return home to damage or accidents, don’t punish them. Punishment will only add to their anxiety and worsen their fear of you leaving.

2. Establish a Routine

Making your dog’s day more predictable helps calm an anxious pet. Establish a daily routine so that your dog knows when they can expect to go for a walk, eat, play, “do their business,” get attention, and, most importantly, when they will be alone.

3. Exercise

Physical activity is the best (and most fun) way for your dog to blow off steam. This is especially true for high-energy breeds.

Helpful Hint

Schedule play or walks for a time just before you normally leave the house, so they are tired and content.

A long walk or short run is good for both you and your dog. A game of fetch in the back yard, a trip to the dog park, or a brisk walk before you leave will stimulate and tire out your dog and make them more likely to settle when you are gone.

4. A Mental Workout

Believe it or not, most dogs love a cognitive challenge. Working breeds in particular need metal stimulation and are most content when doing the job they were bred for. 

Taking a slow walk through a field or a park and allowing your dog to check out all of the scents is perfect for hounds and lap dogs alike. Working on a new trick (it doesn’t matter which one) will help pets that are eager to please. The dog park can offer the socialization some dogs need. 

If you can’t get outdoors, try hiding a treat in the next room and letting them sniff it out or buy a puzzle game that makes them work for a snack. A mental workout can be just as beneficial to a dog as a physical workout. And a stimulated and challenged dog is less likely to act out.

5. Medication and Supplements

Sometimes training and other remedies aren’t enough to ease your pet’s separation anxiety. In those cases, your veterinarian may prescribe medications like Gabapentin (anti-anxiety), Amitriptyline (an anti-depressant), Fluoxetine (an SSRI), or Melatonin (a sleep/calming aid).

Pet medication logo

Your veterinarian may prescribe a customized, compounded medication. These medications are mixed by trained, licensed compounding pharmacists and often come in dosage forms designed to make giving or applying the medication easier and more accurate.

For pet parents that prefer herbal remedies, CBD, L-Tryptophan, Zylkene, or Rescue Remedy may do the trick.

Consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any medications or supplements products, particularly if they are already on prescription medications.

6. Develop Independence

Do not allow your dog to become overly clingy or demand too much attention from you. Develop your dog’s independence by teaching them to be on their own, even if you are home and just in the other room.

Teach them the “stay” command. At first, keep the time and the distance short, but then gradually increase the time and distance away until they can spend 10-15 minutes alone.

Gadgets and Other Products for Separation Anxiety in Dogs

For dogs with mild separation anxiety, there are a number of products that you may find useful.

  • Thundershirt – Applies gentle, constant pressure to calm your dog in stressful times (think swaddling for a baby human) like thunderstorms, fireworks, as well as for separation anxiety.
  • Pheromone Collars – Helps calm dogs by mimicking a mother dog’s natural nursing pheromones.
  • In Home Pet Monitors – These high-tech gadgets work through your home’s WiFi and include a camera so you can monitor your dog’s behavior, an audio component so you can talk to them, and a treat dispenser to reward them for being good while you’re away.
  • Aromatherapy for Dogs – After all, a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times better than ours and certain scents like lavender and frankincense create a calming atmosphere that some dogs respond well to. There are a number of diffusers out there made specifically for pets.
  • Doggy Daycare – If you work long hours that leave your dog alone for extended periods, consider doggy daycare. It’s a great way to get your dog the exercise and socialization they need.

7. Crate Training

When used appropriately, a crate provides your dog with a den-like, safe place to relax. In fact, many dogs feel safer in their crate when left alone or during other times of stress (thunderstorms, fireworks). 

Never use a crate as punishment. Instead, make sure your pet associates their crate with only good things like their bed, favorite toys, chewies, or blanket with your scent on it. Soon they will begin to associate their crate as a quiet place to “settle.” 

Give your pet something to do and enjoy when settling into the crate. A Kong or Toppl toy with frozen peanut butter, kibble, canned food, etc. can keep a pet busy and engaged for an hour.


Separation anxiety in dogs is common, but treatable. Calming your pet’s fears takes time and patience – you may have to go through some trial and error to find the best remedy for an anxious pet. If training and re-conditioning alone doesn’t work, adding medication may be the best course of action. 

For more information on medications for separation anxiety, visit the Wedgewood Pharmacy Medications page for a complete list of compounded medications available.

Read more about separation anxiety in cats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Treat My Dog’s Separation Anxiety at Home?

There are a number of things that can help ease separation anxiety in dogs, like exercise (both physical and mental), behavior training and conditioning, establishing a routine, creating a safe place, and certain medications and supplements. Contact your veterinarian for suggestions.

What Natural Remedy Can I Give My Dog for Separation Anxiety?

Over the counter supplements can often help calm mild separation anxiety, but it is important to speak with your veterinarian about correct dosage, side effects, and interactions it could have with prescription medications. Some “natural” remedies include CBD (oil and treats), L-tryptophan, and Rescue Remedy.

Can I Give Benadryl to My Dog to Calm Him Down?

The sedative effects of Benadryl in dogs are mild and not nearly as pronounced as they are in humans, therefore, Benadryl is not commonly helpful for dogs struggling with separation anxiety.

This article is meant to provide general and not medical advice. We strongly recommend that a veterinarian be consulted with for the specific medical needs of your animal.


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