March 25, 2020 5 min read 0 Comments

Do you ever wonder what your dog does while you are away from home? Some dogs appear fine, sleeping the day away or playing with their toys.

If left unattended, other dogs might get into things that they shouldn’t like the trash bin or the laundry basket. These troublemakers usually benefit from being crated or kept out of certain rooms.

However, if your dog is engaging in destructive behavior, almost to the point of injuring himself, he may have separation anxiety.

What is separation anxiety in dogs?

Separation anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that manifests when a pet is separated from family members or a specific family member. Even if you are only gone for a few moments, it can be immensely stressful for your dog.

Separation anxiety can be triggered by any number of visual cues such as grabbing your glasses, cell phone, or car keys in the morning. You might even notice that the simple act of putting your shoes on causes your dog to act differently.

Dogs with separation anxiety may display mild signs like whining or whimpering. They may start to pace and appear nervous or follow you room to room. Some dogs may also do this once you have left, pacing from room to room and whimpering or even barking.

Anxious dogs can also have accidents in the house and may urinate or defecate on the floor. Upset stomach is another clinical sign. In severe cases, dogs can panic and engage in destructive behavior. Your dog may try to chew on things like carpeting, door frames, and furniture.

If he is crated, he may try to chew on the crate or forcibly escape from it. There have even been cases where dogs have broken through glass doors and fences due to their significant anxiety.

Best dog crates for separation anxiety

A tan German shepherd standing next to a kennel made by Gunner Kennels

Crates are useful for dogs with separation anxiety because it can create a safe place for your dog. Dogs share a common ancestor with wolves who often sleep in caves or dens, so it makes sense that some dogs would look for a safe haven when dealing with something stressful.

Crates should be kept in a quiet area away from windows and noisy areas. Some crates are fairly open while others have more solid walls to block out visual stressors. Good crates should be tall enough for your dog to stand and wide enough for him to be able to turn around.

Crates should also have comfortable flooring or padding so that your dog can sleep comfortably. Crate beds like the BuddyRest Premier Memory Foam Crate Bed and the BuddyRest Tough Titan Orthopedic Crate Bed are great crate beds because they are supportive yet durable so that they are less likely to fall apart if your dog chews on them.

There are many crates available for dogs, so where do you start? Here are some examples of crates that can help dogs with separation anxiety.

  1. AmazonBasics Pet Kennel for smaller dogs – this kennel is versatile because it is ideal for your small pup while you are away from home yet can also be used to transport him to the vet’s office. It has a front door and a door built in the top so that it is easier to pick up your pup from inside the crate. The handle on top makes it easy to use as a pet carrier. It is a solid crate so that your dog is less likely to hurt himself trying to chew on the walls. Your dog may feel safer inside because of its solid cover. It is ideal for pets weighing up to twenty pounds.
  2. ProSelect Empire Dog Cage – this particular kennel is more open and is made up of reinforced steel tubes. It was built with strong dogs in mind and comes in both medium and large sizes. The latches for the door are also very solid, and the bottom tray slides out for easy clean up if your dog has any accidents inside. There are also detachable wheels that can help with easy movement, or they can be removed to provide more stability.  
  3. PetMate Sky Kennel – this crate is a larger version of the AmazonBasics kennel, and the plastic is even more resistant to damage from chewing. The door is made of reinforced steel, and the overall solid cover of the crate is ideal for blocking out visual stressors. Smaller models of this crate come with a handle for easy transport. This particular crate meets most travel requirements and also comes with food and water bowls that can be clipped onto the inside of the door.  
  4. Gunner Kennels –this crate are for those in need of heavy duty needs. Gunner Kennels are made in the USA and are made for their heavy duty material that help to resist chewers and escape artists. The doubled wall rotomold kennels can withstand 4,000 pounds of force and a drop from 8’4”. The door is custom welded and with an aluminum frame.  

Other ways to calm separation anxiety

If your dog isn’t used to being in a crate, it may take some time to help train him. You can use pheromone-containing products in or around the crate to help naturally calm him, and if he is food-motivated, you can incorporate treats into your dog’s crate training. If your dog isn’t likely to chew on fabrics, you can try leaving a shirt that you have recently worn inside the kennel. This is useful because the shirt smells like his favorite person!

Visual stressors can be blocked by closing windows and doors. Leaving the television or radio on while you are away can help cancel out stressful sounds. Some studies on dogs and cats in shelter settings have revealed that classical, jazz and reggae music were the most calming types of music genres.

Toys can also be a welcome distraction while you are gone. Puzzle toys are especially useful, and toys with ice cubes or peanut butter inside may provide many minutes of fun for your pup. Dog-appeasing pheromones can also be used outside of crates, and CBD oil may help keep your dog relaxed and calm.

If you are still having trouble with your dog’s anxiety, make sure to talk to your veterinarian. She will be able to get you more information on behavior modification and training, which are the ultimate ways to help your dog’s anxiety.

Sometimes, veterinarians will prescribe medications if a dog’s anxiety is severe, and your vet might also refer your dog to a veterinary behavior specialist for the best results.

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Separation anxiety can be difficult to manage without training and patience. Crate training is one of the best ways to ensure that your dog does not engage in destructive behaviors, especially behaviors where he ends up hurting himself.

No two dogs are the same when it comes to anxiety, and often a combination of the above tips will help anxious dogs. Your veterinarian can help you mitigate your dog’s behavior issues and can provide you with helpful information.


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Meet The Author

Dr. Sara Ochoa author of The Best Dog Crates For Dealing With Separation Anxiety

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM

Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM
Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM



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