Calming dog separation anxiety naturally, with expert tips

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Anna Wei

Seeing your pup in visible distress is heart-wrenching. Something as small as leaving the house can feel overwhelmingly difficult and emotionally draining when your dog has separation anxiety.  

Although there isn’t a simple solution to fixing separation anxiety, combining holistic approaches to calm your dog naturally can help.  

You can boost your dog’s confidence and contentment by addressing their mental and physical needs like the best nutrition, targeted training, calming remedies, and soothing rituals. 

Signs and symptoms of separation anxiety 

Separation anxiety is a complex mental health issue. The signs of anxiety in dogs can range from the occasional whine to severe panic attacks, where their stress has reached a critical level.  

Learning your dog’s body language can help you to identify when they’re showing early signs of worry and distress, like panting or yawning. 

Here are some common signs of separation anxiety: 

  • Excessive barking, howling, or whining 

  • Destroying furniture 

  • Urinating or defecating inside 

  • Pacing 

  • Constant trembling 

  • Attempting to escape 

  • Shaking or trembling 

  • Hypersalivation (intense drooling) 

  • Blocking doorways 

Certain breeds (like the Italian Lagotto Romagnolo, Miniature Bull Terrier, Dalmatian and Hungarian Vizsla) can be more prone to developing separation anxiety.

Common causes of separation anxiety 

The exact causes of separation anxiety aren’t fully understood. However, several factors can contribute to its development: 

  • Sudden change in schedule 

  • Lack of training and socialisation 

  • Being abandoned in the past 

  • Changes in the household 

  • Moving to a new house 

  • Breed or personality type 

Puppies and dogs adopted during the pandemic might be particularly susceptible, having grown accustomed to constant human presence. 

How to calm a stressed and anxious dog naturally 

If your dog is struggling with anxiety, a holistic approach can be beneficial. It considers your dog’s overall health and wellbeing, rather than just addressing the signals of stress.  

Trial-and-error can help uncover which strategies work for you and your dog, starting with a long conversation with your vet.  

Training strategies for separation anxiety in dogs 

One of most common holistic approaches to treating separation anxiety is training.  

Behaviourists and reputable dog trainers can work with you and your pup to reduce their anxiety and increase their resilience. 

Speak to your vet for recommendations in your local area.  

Training approaches to consider: 

  • Counterconditioning: this type of training aims to transform your dog’s fears into positive associations using high-value treats or rewards. 

  • Desensitisation: dogs with separation anxiety often have certain triggers. The morning routine, picking up car keys, a bag, or a coat: these can all set off your dog’s anxiety. Desensitise your dog by mixing up your routine or engaging with the triggers at unusual times, like picking up your keys at different points in the day. 

  • Canine enrichment activities: dogs that are adequately exercised and receive plenty of mental enrichment can be less likely to experience anxiety. Always give your dog daily opportunities to channel their energy by stretching their minds and legs. 

  • Soothing strategies: teaching your dog how to decompress and self-soothe is an important part of the training process. Chewing is soothing, so give them a long-lasting treat like a Pig Twig or a robust chew toy they can gnaw on for stress relief. Establishing a calming evening routine can help them unwind before bed so they can enjoy a nourishing sleep.  

Real food to support better moods 

A fresh and balanced diet is crucial for your dog’s mental and physical health.  Calming a dog naturally begins by ensuring they’re getting the right nutrition.  

The gut-brain axis, the connection between the gut microbiome and the brain, plays a significant role in regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (the fight or flight hormone), which affect mood and anxiety levels.  

Microbiome health comes from a fresh and varied diet made from high-quality protein, healthy fats (like omega-3), colourful vegetables, and superfoods, like Lyka. 


  • Incorporating L-tryptophan-rich foods: studies have shown that dogs with high stress levels can benefit from diets containing L-Tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to increase serotonin levels. Look for fresh food diets containing high-quality turkey, chicken, eggs, lamb, and beef — excellent sources of this amino acid.  

  • Avoiding high glycaemic load diets: ultra-processed food (like kibble) containing a large proportion of carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, and corn can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes that can impact your dog’s mood. 

Targeted supplements for calmer dogs 

Supplementing your dog’s diet with targeted ingredients can help to improve their feelings of wellbeing and the restorative quality of their sleep.  

Lyka Calm Supplements contain probiotic BL-999 (Bifidobacterium longum), shown to reduce anxious behaviour and cortisol levels. It also contains passionflower extract to help your dog relax. 

Create a reassuring environment for your pup 

Your dog’s home environment can support their feelings of comfort and reassurance contributing to a calmer state of mind.  

Home factors to consider: 

  • Warm and cosy beds: just like us, dogs need sleep for their mental and physical health. Dogs can sleep for up to 12 hours a day, but for their sleep to be restorative, their bed should be in a warm and dry place away from cold draughts, especially in the winter months. Some dogs with anxiety find faux fur beds comforting, while others prefer a cosy cave or a crate as their den. 

  • Calm departures and arrivals: always stay calm when leaving or returning home. Heightened emotions can signal that something significant is happening, contributing to their anxiety about your absence. 

  • Comfort items: Some dog parents leave an item of clothing with their dog that has their scent to provide some reassurance. Treats and toys that are only given to your dog when you leave can keep them occupied and promote a positive association with your departure.  

  • Pheromone diffusers: Your dog may benefit from pheromones released from a plug-in diffuser or collar. These release odourless messages like the comforting chemical signals released by a dog mum to her litter. 

Alternative therapies to reduce anxiety in dogs 

Exploring natural calming remedies for anxious dogs and other alternative therapies can provide additional support for your pup.  

Consider these alternative approaches: 

  • Aromatherapy: essential oils like lavender and chamomile can have a calming effect on dogs.  Always consult your vet before using essential oils because some are toxic to dogs. Use oils sparingly and don’t allow any direct contact with your dog.  

  • Massage: gentle massage can help reduce their feelings of stress and promote relaxation for you and your dog! 

  • Acupuncture: this traditional Chinese therapy can help lower their cortisol levels and reduce anxiety. 

Managing separation anxiety in dogs requires patience and a multi-faceted approach. By focusing on proper nutrition, employing effective training techniques, and exploring alternative therapies and natural anxiety treatments for dogs, you can help your dog feel more secure and less anxious. Remember, every dog is unique, so it may take some trial-and-error to find what works best for your pup.

Real food. Real results. 

Good health starts with good nutrition.  

A simple shift in what you put in your dog’s bowl can have a life-changing impact on your pup’s mental health.  

It’s easier for a dog’s body to absorb the nutrients in real food, which naturally leads to extensive health benefits — from the regulation of happy hormones (like serotonin and dopamine) to their receptivity to training, and memory.  

Lyka fresh dog food is formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists to support your dog’s physical health and mental wellbeing. Custom-portioned meals are delivered to your doorstep, so you can spend more time focusing on supporting your dog. 

Is your pup ready for a fresh start? 

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

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