Separation anxiety is very common across all dog breeds, and not just with Labradoodles. It can occur at any stage in your dog’s life but is more common in puppies or dogs that have recently been re-homed.
Are Labradoodles prone to separation anxiety? Yes, Labradoodles can suffer from separation anxiety. This can occur when you leave your Labradoodle at home alone or outside by himself. It will usually manifest as barking, whining, destructive behavior, and sometimes hiding in small spaces.
In this article, I’ll explain what separation anxiety is in Labradoodles (and in dogs in general), the classic symptoms of separation anxiety in Labradoodles, and what you can do to fix it.
How do I know my Labradoodle has Separation anxiety?
Symptoms of separation anxiety are always associated with your Labradoodle being left alone. It can be difficult to figure out what is going on when you come home to a scene of destruction in your home, but the signs are often there before you even leave your dog alone.
If you suspect that your Labradoodle is getting anxious when you go out, watch for the telltale signs of him getting stressed before you leave. Signs of pre-separation anxiety include following you around the house, running around with ‘excitement’, panting, shaking his head and sneezing, increased heart rate, and ignoring you when you call him.
What are the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety In Labradoodles
Labradoodles are a lively, energetic breed and need lots of training and socialization from an early age. Bad behavior can sometimes be mistaken for separation anxiety, so it’s important to watch for the signs as both can be the cause of destructive behavior, especially when the Labradoodle is still a puppy.
It’s not uncommon for a puppy to bond with one person in a household, especially if there are no other dogs to play with. Symptoms of anxiety can manifest when that person leaves the house or even moves to another room. Classic symptoms of separation anxiety in Labradoodles include:
- Following their owner around and sitting on their laps or feet
- Whining and excessive barking when left alone
- Chewing up toys and furniture etc (this can also be caused by lack of training)
- Scratching doors and windows
- Vomiting and constant licking of paws and chewing of legs and tails
How To Prevent Separation Anxiety In Your Labradoodle
If you are thinking of getting a Labradoodle puppy or thinking of adopting an older dog, you need to ask yourself if you have the time to dedicate to a dog to give him the attention he needs and deserves. Spending adequate time with your Labradoodle can go a long way towards preventing separation anxiety.
You can also lower the chances of separation anxiety occurring by finding a good breeder. You want a breeder that is breeding for the health and temperament of their pups. It’s often a good idea to seek out previous buyers from a breeder and ask them questions about their dogs, and if their pups have suffered from any behavioral issues or separation anxiety. Breeders that are just in it for the money are more likely to breed puppies that have health and temperament issues including separation anxiety.
Here are a few other ways to help prevent separation anxiety from developing.
1. Training and Socialization
It’s important to get the puppy used to being on his own for short periods of time from an early age. Help him to become comfortable and confident when people aren’t around. I highly recommend crate training your Labradoodle puppy from an early age, as this provides him with a safe place to retreat to when he feels anxious and scared.
2. Use Clothes and Blankets
If you do have to leave your Labradoodle alone in his crate or outside, you should leave an old piece of your clothing with him as a comfort blanket. Your scent can be comforting and can calm an anxiety attack before it gets out of hand. It’s also a great idea to have the radio or TV on, so it sounds like you might still be home.
3. Feed A Healthy Diet
A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet can be very helpful in reducing anxiety as well as reduce the chances of chronic diseases. Feeding your dog a diet that is high in animal protein and has low /no carbohydrates is your best option. Also, be sure to pay attention to any signs of food allergies and avoid foods that negatively affect your dog. Food allergies can also lead to inflammation which can make anxiety worse.
4. Provide plenty of exercise
A tired dog is always better behaved than a dog that is bursting with energy. This is why exercise is a big part of helping to prevent separation anxiety. Taking your Labradoodle for a long walk or having a good romp in the yard is a wonderful way to help your dog burn energy before you need to leave him. This will encourage him to sleep while you are away instead of getting upset and anxious.
What To Do If Your Labradoodle suffers from Separation Anxiety
If your Labradoodle regularly suffers from separation anxiety, there are things that you can do to support your dog. It’s important that you are patient and understand that your dog is suffering from a panic attack that he cannot control and probably doesn’t fully understand.
Once your Labradoodle has developed this condition, it can be difficult to break the cycle. You will need to adopt a flexible approach to fixing it, and understand that every dog is different. In my experience, if separation anxiety has been present for many years then it’s not going to be completely fixable.
So, what can you do? To begin, you should try to alter the anxious behavior through training and a change in the routine that leads to the behavior. Dogs are very perceptive and ‘know’ when we are getting ready to leave them. It’s important to break the cycle, as the anxious behavior has usually started before we leave them alone.
I’d highly recommend enlisting the help of a qualified dog trainer if your Labradoodle is not a puppy and the separation anxiety has been going on for a while. They will often spot small things that we as dog owners overlook, and sometimes this can be the key to solving the problem.
Separation related behavior is often associated with a dog becoming overly dependent on and attached to one member of the household. To overcome separation anxiety it’s important to get other family members (or friends if possible) involved in caring for your Labradoodle. This will reduce his dependency on you, and he will feel more relaxed when you’re not around.
Every Labradoodle is different, but here are a few ways that you can help to reduce anxious behavior in your dog.
1. Teach Him To Relax When You Are Getting Ready To Go Out
Labradoodles are smart dogs, and they will know when you are getting ready to leave the house (especially if it’s something you do at the same time every day). Separation anxiety will usually start before you leave your Labradoodle alone, and if you can spot the signs and distract your Labradoodle, then you can hopefully leave him in a relaxed state when he is alone.
2. Exercise Him Before You Leave
Make sure to provide your Labradoodle with plenty of appropriate exercise. It can be especially helpful to make sure he is a bit worn out before you have to leave him. This will help to reduce the amount of damage he does while you are away. It may also encourage him to sleep at least for a bit.
3. Take A Look At His Diet
You may also want to look at your dog’s diet. His diet may be causing extra inflammation that is making his separation anxiety worse. Choose a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in animal proteins. A raw diet can have wonderful benefits in addition to helping reduce separation anxiety.
4. Try Some Herbal Remedies
Just like with us humans, holistic medicine can help to relieve a lot of ailments in dogs. Be sure to enlist the help of an experienced holistic vet as you don’t want to make your dog sick.
You can also try some products that have been specially developed for dogs. Rescue Remedy is available for dogs. It contains five different flower remedies that can help to calm your dog. It can be rubbed into your dogs’ blanket, toys, behind his ears or even his paws. There are also products that contain herbs such as chamomile that can help to calm a dog with separation anxiety.
5. Hire a dog walker or dog sitter
Sometimes a dog will improve with any human companion. So having someone check in on him every day or leaving him with someone if you have to do something without him can be a great option.
In some instances getting a doggie companion can help. However, this is not always the case. Try borrowing someone else dog to see if this eases your dog’s anxiety before you go out and buy your dog a companion.
Do All Dog Breeds Suffer From Separation Anxiety?
Any dog breed can experience separation anxiety if he cannot tolerate being left alone in the house or yard. This can result in behavioral problems such as destructiveness, barking and whining.
A separation anxiety attack is a lot like a panic attack in humans. It’s generally more common in younger dogs, but it can also be present in dogs that have been rescued or adopted if they have not been treated well in their previous life.
Not all behavioral problems can be attributed to separation anxiety. Excessive barking, soiling the house, sofa destruction, digging in the yard are often just behavioral problems caused by boredom, and it is not true separation anxiety.
What Other Dog Breeds Are Most Likely To Suffer From Separation Anxiety?
Labradoodles are not the only dog breed that needs to be around people or other dogs. Most dogs were bred to be with people all day long. They were not bred for these modern times where they stay mostly at home and we go leave them alone for multiple hours a day. If you really stop to think about it how long are you at home with your dog a day anyway?
There was a time when dogs went everywhere with their masters, they provided company and protection. They went into stores, restaurants, and even medical establishments. Now, however, depending on where you live it can be hard to even find places that you can take your dog! Even some parks don’t allow dogs. Grocery stores, restaurants (except for some that have outdoor seating), medical facilities, and most stores do not allow you to bring your dog unless he is a service animal.
This makes it difficult for us to provide dogs with the companionship that they crave. It also makes it harder for us to provide them with the mental and physical exercise they need. Ideally, we could spend all-day, every-day with our best friends. Sadly, this is not the case and this is one of the reasons our precious pets have panic attacks every time we have to leave them alone at home.
Any breed and any dog can suffer from separation anxiety. However, there are some breeds that are much more prone to this. These are, generally, breeds that were bred to be with people all day long. Working with their people herding, hunting, or simply being a companion all day. Also, rescue dogs of any breed are much more likely to develop separation anxiety. Some breeds were bred to work more independently of people, sighthounds and terriers are examples, these breeds are much less likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
Here is a list of the top 10 breeds that are most likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Australian Shepherd
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Bichons Frise
- Border Collie
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Jack Russell Terrier
Again this is not an exhaustive list, but merely the top 10 breeds most likely to suffer from separation anxiety. Notice that the Labrador and the Poodle both make the list. So, naturally, the Labradoodle can suffer from separation anxiety.
Summary: Can Labradoodles suffer from separation anxiety?
The Labradoodle is among one of the many breeds that can suffer from separation anxiety. Honestly, any dog no matter his breed may suffer the effects of separation anxiety. Breeds that were bred to work closely with people all day, such as herding breeds, lapdogs, and hunting companions, as well as rescue dogs, are much more likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
Thankfully separation anxiety is preventable with training, socialization, a good diet, and plenty of exercise. These tactics can also be used to help a dog who already suffers from separation anxiety. Be patient, be kind, and love the precious gift that is your dog.