We’re all struggling to get into a new or old routine – and Christmas may be disrupting it all over again. And we’re not alone. Our dogs may also be feeling this way.
This year, your pooch will have got used to having their best friend by their side all day. Finding a ‘new’ routine or falling back into an old one can be hard for them, but there are ways you can help.
Separation anxiety is common in pups of all ages, affecting 13-18% of dogs. It can display itself in many ways including barking, destructive behaviour and much more.
Sean McCormack, Head Vet from tails.com, shares his top tips for preventing and treating separation anxiety in dogs. He also explains the importance of creating a calming environment for your dog by making your home their sanctuary.
We’ve found several music playlists that could help with creating a tranquil space for your dog starting with sound. The peaceful music is much as you would find in a spa, and will help reduce the chances of separation anxiety.
Having this music ready to play from the moment you step out of the door until you return home will leave your dog feeling their best.
10 Spotify Playlists To Tackle Separation Anxiety
The team at tails.com have scoured Spotify for the most popular playlists curated with dogs in mind.
These playlists range from 3 to 139 hours long so you can pick a playlist, and your pup will never get bored. The data collected ranks the top 10 playlists based on follower count.
- Dog Music – Calming Sounds for Dogs: 30,284 followers
With over 16 hours of music, this playlist will be sure to keep your dog calm for as long as you need.
- Dog Calming Music: 13,677 followers
This playlist features almost nine hours of music, perfect for the workday. The soothing sounds of the piano are guaranteed to relieve stress.
- Dog Music: Relaxing Music for Dogs, Calm Sleeping Music for Pets and Relaxation Music Sleep: 6,579 followers
This playlist may be the solution to creating an anxiety-free haven for your pup. The bumper selection of songs will last an astonishing 139 hours, so no repeat over the course of almost 2 weeks at work – your dog will never get bored.
- Music for dogs – Relaxing Sounds for your Dog: 6,259 followers
This playlist combining soothing tones will bring almost 17 hours of calm to you and your dog’s hectic days.
- Dog Relaxation: 5,545 followers
Over 3 hours of relaxing rainfall sounds will bring harmony into your dog’s routine.
- Dog Sleeping Music – Calming Music For Dogs: 2,426 followers
Almost 16 hours of songs to prevent your best friend investigating what’s inside your pillows.
- Relax My Dog Music: 2,226 followers
Over 13 hours of songs designed with dogs in mind. High pitched sounds feature on a variety of songs which keep your dog’s attention on the music, preventing reactive behaviours caused by outside noises.
- Relaxing Dog Music: 1,995 followers
Classical piano music will play for almost 16 hours, helping even the most anxious dogs calm down over several sessions.
- Relax My Dog: 1980 followers
This playlist combines nature sounds, from waves to woodland. It is the ultimate escape for dogs. With over 8 hours of songs, this playlist will last until you return home.
Almost 6 hours of music that will help your pup become more zen. This will be sure to create a safe space for them.
If you are feeling inspired to create your personalised playlist for your pooch, research has been carried out to find what genre dogs like best.
According to a study carried out for the Scottish SPCA, classical music is one of dogs’ favourite genres. In the study, it was shown to decrease the stress levels. They also spent less time standing and barking while classical music played.
Other genres that decrease stress levels amongst dogs are reggae and soft rock. The study also suggested that individual dogs may have their taste in music – similar to us.
10 vet-approved tips for reducing separation anxiety in dogs
Sean McCormack, Head Vet from tails.com shares his tips on teaching your dog how to be anxiety-free when alone.
Encourage independence from a young age
Resist the urge to have your pup at your side 24/7 when you first bring your dog home.
Build up the time they spend away from you
Start small. Leave the room and close the door behind you. Wait 30 seconds, then go back in. Repeat this over and over again until your dog doesn’t even react. Over a few weeks, build up the time and distance you’re apart:
- 1 minute – you outside the door
- 2 minutes – you in a separate room
- 3 minutes – you upstairs, your dog downstairs
- 5 minutes – you walk around the block, your dog stays at home
The aim is to increase the time gradually, so your dog doesn’t realise it’s happening and doesn’t get distressed.
Don’t reward anxious behaviour…
It’s hard to see your dog distressed. You desperately want to make them feel better. But showering your dog with affection now can teach them that their anxious behaviour gets attention – and that can make their anxiety worse.
Our top tips: don’t go into the house if they’re crying. When you do go in, keep your focus straight ahead and don’t give your dog attention until they’re calm. Then shower them with affection as a reward.
…but don’t punish it either
You get home to find scratch marks on the door and poop on the floor. And your dog looks guilty as sin. Telling them off seems like an obvious response.
But unless you tell them off at the moment, your dog’s unlikely to link the punishment with the ‘crime’. That guilty look on your dog’s face? Probably not guilt at all – dogs pick up our frustration and adopt the appropriate response. Despite appearances, the time they spent scratching the door is long forgotten.
Get ready to go. Then stay
Shoes on. Coat on. Keys in hand. Our dogs recognise signs we’re getting ready to leave. Before long, those actions start to cause anxiety on their own. But do them often enough without going anywhere, and you’ll disrupt the link in your dog’s mind. No more anxiety.
Tire them out
Your dog’s less likely to get anxious if they’re mentally and physically tired, so time their walk and training for an hour or so before you need to leave. This gives them a chance to burn off any nervous energy, and get nicely settled before you go.
Occupy their mind
Boredom can make anxiety worse, so try leaving out toys that will keep your dog’s mind busy. There are loads on the market to choose from, but don’t go overboard – a couple a day is enough. Don’t leave the same ones every time, or your dog will lose interest. Having a collection you rotate is ideal.
Try calming products
Look online or in a pet store for herbal sprays or pheromone diffusers. These create a relaxing, dog-friendly environment. Stick to ones made especially for dogs, as some room sprays aimed at humans can be harmful to our four-legged friends.
Give a nutritional supplement
Tryptophan – a building block for serotonin – can have a calming effect on dog anxiety. If you think your dog could benefit from its effects, ask your vet for more information.
10. Get help
If your dog’s anxiety is severe and attempts to ease it don’t work, ask a dog behaviourist to help. They can often spot seemingly small things that are making your dog more anxious. In really severe cases, a trip to the vet might be in order. When all else fails, a prescription sedative could help ease your dog’s distress while you work on the issue.