Dog Trainer Shares Top 5 Tips to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Pets

a dog with torn toilet roll

A dog trainer has shared five tips with owners that could help prevent separation anxiety in their pets.

In a viral video shared by TikTok account Top Paw K9 Academy, which is run by Jennifer in Colorado, she demonstrates each tip with her three dogs.

Most pet owners know that dogs can become stressed and anxious when left alone. “Dogs might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape,” the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says.

A stock image shows a dog with a torn toilet paper roll. Dogs can be trained to handle separation anxiety when their owner goes away.

To reduce separation anxiety for canines, Jennifer offers the following advice:

  • Don’t make a big deal about leaving.
  • Don’t make a big deal about returning home.
  • Give the dog breaks throughout the day so it’s away from you.
  • Teach the dog the art of doing nothing and how to self-soothe.
  • Spend quality time together, along with the breaks.

Joe Nutkins, a dog training instructor and co-director at U.K.-based Dog Training for Essex and Suffolk, said the video offers some good advice on ways to get dogs prepared for being left alone by their owners and praised the way it was presented.

“Anxiety in dogs generally can be very much a separate thing to separation anxiety,” Nutkins told Newsweek. “Dogs can be anxious around new people, strange dogs, certain noises but be very comfortable when left home alone. Likewise, a dog that is very confident out on walks or with new experiences but then when left alone struggles to settle and feel calm.”

She continued: “What I like about these five tips is that they are cost-effective. They can be started immediately by any dog or puppy owner without needing to spend money, making the advice accessible to all.

“There are more tips that could be added and if you have a dog that has severe separation anxiety, there most likely will need to be additional methods. But I would still include these five tips as well, either as a starting point to build on or as part of a bigger plan overall.”

Nutkins recommends starting steps one, two and three early on with a new puppy. “Or if you bring a rescue or re-home dog into your family, you may need to give them a few weeks or even months to settle first, then start working on these tips.”

She advises contacting local trainers and behaviorists for more in-depth help. “Check reviews to see if they have experience with anxiety issues, and you can also find some highly recommended professionals who work online so you can access their help from anywhere.”

In 2022, $136.8 billion was spent in the pet industry in the U.S., according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). That amount is projected to reach $143.6 billion by the end of this year.

The APPA said an estimated $11.4 billion was spent on pet services, including boarding, grooming, training and sitting, in 2021.

Since being shared on July 11, the TikTok video has attracted 328,300 views and an estimated 28,700 likes.

The overwhelming majority of users who commented on the video praised the advice, while others shared their experiences with their pets.

User Sigh said: “But I’m weak. I miss my boy so much all day it’s a treat to see him when I come home.”

Luvmygs wrote: “It’s so hard not making a big deal when you get back home. All I want to do is get back home to them.”

Mariah Pennewell said: “I started this with my 14-week-old German Shepherd and it’s been so helpful already.”

Newsweek has contacted Top Paw K9 Academy for comment via TikTok.

Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to [email protected] with some details about your best friend, and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.

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