Have you noticed your pup getting frantic when you leave or come home, even if you were gone for an hour? He could be dealing with a case of separation anxiety! Below, you’ll learn all you need to know about it.
French Bulldogs are prone to separation anxiety, which can often take the form of destructive behavior and overexcitement. This is a behavior problem rather than an obedience problem, so learning what it looks like and what to do about it are very important! Below, you’ll learn more about what it is, what it looks like, and what you can do about it to help reduce stress in your Frenchie.
What is separation anxiety?
As simple as it sounds, this is when your dog experiences a varying degree of stress when they are away from you. It sounds cute, and it is sweet, but it is a serious behavioral issue that often can lead to some serious destruction! Not to mention, of course, emotional distress on your dog.
Since dogs are social and pack animals by nature, they get uncomfortable when their pack (aka their favorite human[s]) isn’t around. This creates serious anxiety and fear that they’ll be alone forever and ever. Have you ever noticed how your Frenchie acts just as excited to see you 5 minutes or 5 hours later? This is because they don’t have the same comprehension of you returning. So, every time you come back, they’re thinking, “You’re back! I didn’t think I was ever going to see you again!”. Tugs on your heartstrings, right? Yeah, us too.
Are French Bulldogs prone to separation anxiety?
As far as a dog breed is concerned, yes, Frenchies are known for being prone to separation anxiety. This doesn’t guarantee that your Frenchie will have it, of course, but it is a common concern in Frenchie owners. So, knowing what it is and how to deal with it is crucial!
Symptoms of separation anxiety in French Bulldogs
The number of symptoms you see and their frequency and severity will help you figure out just how bad your dog’s case is of separation anxiety. Some of the common signs include:
- Destroying possessions and furniture
- Barking and howling (especially when you are walking away from the house)
- Peeing or vomiting in the house
- Frantic before you leave and after you return
- Scratching at the doors and windows
Sometimes, these symptoms all happen simultaneously, and other times it’s just one or two, here and there. All of them should be taken seriously so that you know just what you’re dealing with!
For example, peeing or vomiting in the house could actually be a physical issue, including that you were gone too long. Understanding that it’s a behavior issue comes with ruling out the physical problems, often requiring a trip to the vet!
Is it okay to leave my French Bulldog home alone?
Yes, of course! Even if your French Bulldog deals with a rather severe separation anxiety, you still have the option and right to leave your home! It shouldn’t make you a prisoner. However, you will have to learn how to help your Frenchie to feel more comfortable when you do so. This will save your furniture and your home itself and improve your quality of life!
How long can I leave my French Bulldog home alone?
There’s no set number for this, but it’s best not to go beyond 5-6 hours without a bathroom break, at the very most. If he pees inside on pads, then you can go up to 8 hours, if needed. However, try to keep your Frenchie’s alone time no more than 2-3 hours at a time if you can help it!
Top tips for dealing with French Bulldog separation anxiety
Sometimes life just doesn’t allow us to be home with our dogs (the horror!), so you have to take a direct approach to help your dog deal with his anxiety. Here are some helpful suggestions to support you in doing just that!
- Don’t punish his behavior
- Don’t fuss when you leave or come back
- Counter-condition his reaction
- Managed alone time sessions
- Give him lots of walks and playtime when you are home
- Give him something scented like you when you leave
- Consider a calming product
- Leave the light on with the TV or radio
- Invest in anxiety toys
1. Don’t punish his behavior
Remember what we said above; separation anxiety is a behavioral issue and not an obedience one. Punishing will only increase his fear and his anxiety the next time that you leave. Respect it for what it is, and even if he did destroy your favorite shoes, don’t punish him for something that he doesn’t understand how to control!
2. Don’t fuss when you leave or come back
This is a hard one, but it can be an effective tool to help him understand that he has no reason to be anxious. When we tell him goodbye and give him treats and toys when we leave, he picks up on the fact that something isn’t right and starts to get anxious. This pre-anxiety means that he is going to be even more anxious when he is alone.
Likewise, if you fuss over him when you get home, he’ll be anxious and excited, and he will be miserable and stressed out when you leave the next day again. The calmer and more “normal” that you stay, the more that your dog will stay the same.
You can help your dog learn to associate your leaving with a positive emotion (to counteract the anxiety), too. This is called counterconditioning, and it takes some time to do right. It consists of giving him his favorite treat or a new, special toy when you leave, and this will associate a happy thing with a negative thing. The happiness will help outweigh the anxiety and, over time, this can help him stay calm and relaxed when you leave.
4. Managed alone time sessions
The biggest thing, especially when he’s really anxious, is to expand the time he is alone gradually. Even though dogs don’t understand time as we do, they can still feel the difference.
Start with half an hour, then an hour, and so on. This will help both you and he adapt to the time apart and manage the anxiety, as well as what you use to help him manage it in the home.
5. Give him lots of walks and playtime when you are home
The more tired he is when you leave, the better! Give him lots of attention, walks, playtime, and more when you are home. He will be so worn out that he won’t even notice that you’ve left. He may even be glad to be alone so that he can get some shut-eye! Not really, but you get the point.
6. Give him something scented like you when you leave
This is a common trick for those dogs that get very stressed out and destructive. Wear a sweater or t-shirt around all morning. When you leave, put it somewhere obvious for your dog (on his bed, for example), and he’ll snuggle up with it to feel calmer. It’s like a security blanket!
7. Consider a calming product
There are all sorts of anxiety products for dogs out there that can help take the edge off—for example, a separation anxiety jacket, essential oils, and more. You’ll want to check with your vet first, though, as they can usually recommend a specific product or two that won’t cause any kind of side effects.
8. Leave the light on with the TV or radio
If your house is usually a busy one, leave on a light or two and a television or a radio. Your dog will like it, and it can often help them calm down (like white noise). It also helps protect your home from theft too, as an added bonus!
9. Invest in anxiety toys
Similar to anxiety products, you can also look at anxiety toys for dogs, which are often referred to as puzzle toys. From mats to stuffies to rubber toys, you can get all sorts of options that will help them feel calmer. You may also want to check with your vet about these too.
You don’t need to go with all of these solutions, remember. The ones that work will present themselves pretty quickly when you put them into action, and that’s what it’s all about, right?
How do I deal with French Bulldog separation anxiety at night?
If your dog is anxious at night because he sleeps in another room from you or in his kennel, you can focus most of your attention on giving them comfort through a product that smells like you or one of the aids such as the puzzle toys, like a snuffle mat or other anxiety products, etc. Again, just experiment to see what works best for your Frenchie.
Separation anxiety in your French Bulldog may be challenging and frustrating, but you can get it under control by understanding what it looks like, what it means, and how to address it directly!
Frenchies can be known for having separation anxiety, which often takes the form of destruction (of everything), vomiting or peeing, excessive barking and howling, and frantic behavior when you leave and get back. Learning how to deal with it is essential for your Frenchie’s emotional health!
Did you realize that your dog is dealing with separation anxiety? It does tend to be pretty sneaky in dogs where the symptoms are mild! Please share it with someone else who needs to see the light!