Puppy looking into the camera.

Separation anxiety in dogs

Do you constantly come home to a puddle of pee or a gnawed furniture leg? Has a neighbour heard your dog howling up a storm while you’re away? Your dog could be bored — or suffering from separation anxiety. Here’s what you need to know so you can start getting the help that you (and your dog) need.

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

Dogs that are suffering from separation anxiety get distressed and freak out whenever they’re left alone. Here are some of the more common signs you’ll see:

  • “Accidents” when they’re already potty-trained
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Chewing things they shouldn’t be
  • Trying to escape by scratching doors or windows
  • Whining, barking, or howling
  • Yawning, panting, or drooling
  • Licking their lips
  • Pacing, circling (not able to settle down)
  • Trembling
  • Chewing or licking their paws or tail

What causes separation anxiety in dogs?

Some dogs may be more prone to separation anxiety, including:

  • Dogs that are extra “clingy” or more dependent on their humans when they’re home, or out-and-about together.
  • Dogs that aren’t well socialized.
  • Adopted dogs that have been through a lot.

Changes in your dog’s life can also trigger separation anxiety — even if they haven’t had problems with it before. Even changes in your dog’s hearing or eyesight as they get older can lead to anxiety.

Lastly, noises or commotions outside (like a nearby construction project) or an upsetting noise inside your home (like a low battery signal in your smoke detector) could be stressing out your dog when they’re home alone — triggering a bad association between the noise and being all by themselves.

Talk to us about treatment options

There are three ways to address separation anxiety, environmental management, behaviour modification, and pharmaceutical options. Pharmaceutical options include antianxiety medications and nutritional supplements, which can be helpful in reducing your dog’s level of anxiety.

Changes to the environment can help your dog with separation anxiety

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are lots of things you can try:

  • Give them a safe and calm space. Make sure your dog has a special place to hang out when you’re gone. This should be a spot where they feel comfortable and relaxed, even when you’re home. Pheromones, calming supplements, and anti-anxiety compression jackets can sometimes help with separation anxiety. You can also try turning on some soothing music or a “white noise” machine for your dog to listen to when you’re gone.
  • Skip the triggers. If you know that certain things set off your dog’s separation anxiety, try to avoid or minimize those triggers. (For example, if opening and closing your garage door when you leave makes them panic, try parking in the driveway.)

Behaviour modification that can help with separation anxiety

  • Plan ahead. Have your dog go to their safe space 10 or 15 minutes before you leave, which can help distract them while you’re getting ready to leave. You can also toss them a treat right before you go, so they can start seeing your departure as a positive.
  • Break the habit. Your dog knows when you’re getting ready to leave, which can amp up their anxiety. Try getting your dog used to seeing your departure cues — without the actual departure. For example, grab your car keys, but then sit down and read a book or open the door and then shut it without going outside.
  • Boost their confidence with training. There are many ways to help an insecure dog feel better about themselves and broaden their horizons. One way is to try clicker training. If your dog is an action hound, agility, nose work, or other types of activity training might work best.
  • Ask your vet. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet about which behaviour modification techniques are best for your dog, and for instructions on how to properly implement these techniques.

Toilet training for puppies

No one enjoys cleaning up indoor toilet accidents. Teaching a new puppy to “go” outside is important for a lifetime of proper bathroom manners. It’s important to remember that your new puppy doesn’t know where they should or shouldn’t go to the toilet — it’s up to us to teach them that outside (or on a designated puppy pad) is the right place. You can train your puppy quickly and successfully with some planning, lots of patience, and consistent positive rewards when they get it right.

Create a toilet Training Schedule

Provide regular and consistent outside toilet breaks for your puppy (or take them to a pad). This way, you’ll have more opportunities to reward them when they go in the right spot and you’ll prevent indoor accidents.

As a guideline, the maximum time between toilet breaks for your dog should be one hour for each month of age (and even more frequently if just starting potty training):

Dog’s Age Maximum Time Between Bathroom Visits
2 months 2 hours
3 months 3 hours
4 months 4 hours
5 months 5 hours
6 months 6 hours
7 months 7 hours
8 months 8 hours

All dogs, no matter what their age, should be given a bathroom break at least every 8 hours.

The younger the puppy, the more frequent these breaks should be. Their physical ability to hold it is still developing. Start with giving them the opportunity to go outside at least once every two hours during the day (as well as after any activity listed below). As they mature and learn the routine, you’ll extend the time between scheduled toilet breaks.

Take your puppy outside for a toilet break after the following events:

  • Waking up (first thing in the morning or after any naps)
  • After drinking water
  • 10-15 minutes after eating
  • After playtime
  • After training
  • Before going to sleep at night
  • Between any change in activity

If your puppy is having multiple indoor accidents, consider adding more toilet breaks to the schedule. Frequent indoor accidents could also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Speak with your vet to determine if your puppy might be having accidents due to a medical issue.

Supervise Your Puppy to Set Them up for Success

Toilet accidents often happen when signs that a puppy needs to go to the bathroom go unnoticed. Until your puppy is more physically mature and reliably housetrained, it’s best to keep a close eye on them. If you notice signs they might need to go to the bathroom, take them immediately outside to their regular spot.

Signs Your Puppy Might Need to Go to the toilet:

  • Sniffing the floor
  • Turning in circles
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Restless behaviour
  • Licking their groin
  • Arching their back or squatting
  • Suddenly stopping what they’re doing (such as chewing on a toy or playing)
  • Leaving the room or seeking out a place to go potty that’s more hidden
  • Sitting by the door

When you can’t supervise your puppy, use crate training to prevent accidents. Using a correctly sized crate helps a puppy learn how to physically hold it, as they do not want to go to the bathroom where they sleep. Ensure that your puppy isn’t in their crate so long that they have an accident because they couldn’t hold it any longer. As always, make sure that being in the crate is a positive and comfortable experience for your puppy.

Reward Your Puppy for Going Potty Outside

Any time your puppy goes to the toilet outside, reward them with a treat and lots of praise! The more you reward a behaviour, the more your puppy will choose to do it. Combining positive reinforcement with proper management of their environment will lead to successful toilet training faster. Negative reinforcement for accidents is never appropriate and should not be used.

Keep Regular Feeding Times

Eating a meal or snack sends signals to your puppy’s digestive system that it needs to empty to make room for incoming food. This is called the gastrocolic reflex and is why puppies will often need to go potty after eating a meal. Keep your puppy on a set feeding schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you can anticipate when they will need to go to the toilet.

Consider whether you want your puppy to have access to water overnight in their crate. Unless your puppy has a medical condition requiring access to water at all times, you can remove their water an hour before bedtime. This ensures your puppy’s bladder is empty before going to sleep, reducing the chance that they’ll need to go in the middle of the night. Because water is essential to your puppy’s physical health, make sure they have access to it again first thing in the morning.

How Long Does it Take to Toilet Train a Puppy?

Every dog is different when it comes to training. Some puppies might be reliably housetrained by four to five months of age, while others might be closer to seven or eight months before getting the hang of it. In some cases, a medical issue might cause a setback in house training. Most importantly, the time it takes to toilet train your puppy depends on your consistent training and management.

When Should You Start Toilet Training a Puppy?

Begin training your puppy right away! The sooner your puppy learns the routine, the faster they will learn correct housetraining habits.

Making your cat’s journey to the vet less stressful

The only time most cats are put into their carrier is when they go to the veterinarian, so it’s no wonder they get freaked out as soon as their carrier comes out of the cupboard. A lot of the stress that cats experience related to the vet visit happens before they actually see the vet. With a little preparation, you can help to ensure your cat (and you) have a stress-free visit to the vet.

Before you go to the vet

Make the carrier less scary. Chances are, the only time your cat sees their carrier is when you’re about to take them to the vet. You can make the carrier less scary by setting it up like a safe place they can hang out in on a regular basis. To entice them into their carrier, make it a comfortable place they want to spend time by putting a blanket, a toy, and treats inside (this also gives them a familiar smell of home). You can also feed them inside the carrier to get them more acclimated to being in it. Just by seeing the carrier in their everyday environment, your cat will become more used to it and avoid the dread they feel when it mysteriously shows up out of the blue.

Keep your cat calm. Calming pheromones can help your cat calm themselves in their carrier. Simply spray a spritz or two in their carrier the night before the appointment and again on the day of the appointment to allow the pheromones to calm your cat.

Consider catnip. This herb can relax your cat, helping them associate a trip to the vet something a lot more fun. Catnip’s effects typically only last for 5–15 minutes, but it doesn’t affect all cats. Occasionally, cats will become agitated when they smell catnip, so it’s a good idea to give your cat a trial dose first to see how (and if) they react before you ever need it for a trip to the vet.

Get your cat used to being handled. Practice holding your cat and examining them from head to tail. This will help your cat feel less stressed when the vet or veterinary technician gives them an exam.

Bring your cat on car rides. It’s likely that the only time your cat rides in the car is on the way to the vet. You can try to disassociate car rides with a trip to the vet to reduce their stress. Some cats will never get used to car rides, but others just need a few minutes in the car or a couple drives around town that doesn’t end up at the vets to help calm their nerves.

Consider visiting a cat-friendly vet. Did you know that our Stocksfield and Bellingham surgeries are Cat Friendly Accredited practices? This means our wonderful staff are trained to keep cats calmer and the surgeries have dedicated waiting areas for you and your  cat!

At the vets

Keep your cat in their carrier. When you get to the vet and are in the waiting room, keep your cat in their carrier. Keep the carrier off the floor to make your cat feel more secure (and prevent curious dogs from peeking in and frightening your cat). With many people and animals in the same room, most cats will feel safer and less stressed in their carrier.

Schedule visits during “quiet” times. We fully understand how stressed cats can get by coming to the vets. We encourage our clients to not be shy and feel free to ask us for an appointment when it may be a little quieter, like our first appointment of the day, or maybe our last. We are here to help, never be afraid to ask!

Bring something from home. An item in their carrier like a blanket from home can help bring your cat comfort while waiting to be seen. If your cat needs to spend a night at the vet, make sure to bring an item from home like their favourite blanket or toy to help them settle easier.

Consider medications and supplements. If your cat has a history of being stressed when visiting the vet or is still stressed after trying the steps above, chat with your veterinarian prior to your next appointment. They may be able to recommend medications and/or supplements that can help reduce your cat’s anxiety and allow them to do better with their vet visits. If you feel like this may be of help, then make use of our promotion at the moment of 10% off Feliway!

Symptom checker

Laparoscopic keyhole spay 2021

“I would highly recommend this procedure for spaying your animals, as my dogs were almost back to normal with no signs of any pain within a couple of days.” – Miss Irving.

We are pleased to announce that we offer Laparoscopic keyhole spay clinics at our Hexham surgery. Our popular monthly service which began in 2020 made us realise how many of our wonderful clients would prefer a Laparoscopic keyhole spay rather than the traditional method.


The following dates are available:

February 3rd
March 3rd
April 7th
May 12th
June 2nd

A laparoscopic spay or neuter is an alternative to the traditional method. It is less invasive and allows faster recovery time.

To learn more about Laparoscopic keyhole spays please click here.

The cost for this procedure is £495.00 for any size of bitch. This includes a post-operative check up (worth £37.20) and is inclusive of medication (ie painkillers). If you are a Well Pet Club member, or indeed if you sign up to our Well Pet Club before your pet’s procedure, you will save 10% (£49.50).

If you are interested in your pet having a Laparoscopic keyhole spay, please book an appointment to see your vet or give your local surgery a call.

Alternatively, please email admin@orchardhousevets.com and we will answer any queries you may have.

Your pet’s first visit to the vet

In the excitement of a new four legged arrival, it is easy to forget what comes next! Don’t worry, we are here to help!

Once your four legged friend has had a day or two to get settled give us a call to arrange an appointment! This is where the excitement begins for us, as we obviously love to welcome new pets to our practices!

What to expect at your pet’s first vet visit

The first visit is different than future visits because your vet will take time to get to know your pet’s medical history and do a more thorough examination to make sure everything is okay! Your vet, or a member of our team may have a chat about few services we offer which you may want to consider. We understand it can be quite a lot to take in, but that is why we will send you an email before or after your visit so you can take things in a little easier. We never recommend any products or services that we don’t use ourselves for our own pets, so the information you receive really is “from the horses mouth” (terrible pun).

What specific checks and conversations should I expect, and why do you do them?

Review of medical records. Medical records can help alert your vet to any pre-existing conditions that your pet has, and any care that they have received before. Remember to bring their records to the visit if you have them!

Thorough physical exam. Your vet will check your cat or dog’s eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and a whole bunch more. This helps to make sure your pet is healthy and establishes what’s normal for your pet. Because every pet is unique, this baseline will help with future vet visits, often saving you time and money.

Lifestyle discussion. Your vet will likely talk to you about your new pet, how best to take care of them, and how to integrate them into your home. This is your opportunity to ask any questions you have about your new dog or cat. Write them down before your appointment to make sure you don’t forget anything!

Parasite prevention. Preventing fleas, ticks, heartworms, and internal parasites will help to keep your pet healthy. Your vet will recommend a parasite prevention protocol, which may include oral medication, injections, or topical applications. We strive to save our clients as much money as possible and that is why your vet or a member of our team will discuss our Well Pet Club! (You could save up to £120 so we tell every client about our plan!).

Vaccines. Depending on what vaccinations your pet received before getting adopted, your vet may recommend additional vaccines to protect them from disease. This will be discussed at the time of your appointment.

Spay or neuter discussion. If your pet is not neutered, or if they are too young, your vet may discuss when to schedule the procedure. We are one of the few practices in the North East to offer Keyhole surgery and Laparoscopic spays so your vet may discuss this with you. If you intend to breed from your dog then the vet may discuss some future options for you.

First puppy vet visit

A puppy’s first vet visit may also include discussion about socialisation, training and information about our popular puppy club.

Vaccine schedule. Depending on your puppy’s age and how many vaccines they’ve already received, your vet will provide a schedule of remaining puppy vaccines they’ll need to keep them healthy.

Socialisation discussion. Socialisation is so important for your puppy to grow into a confident dog. Your vet may talk with you about puppy socialisation classes or give you ideas of things to expose your puppy to (like people, vacuums, floor surfaces, etc.) during their crucial imprint period.


First kitten vet visit

The first kitten vet visit is a great time to start desensitising them to their carrier and helping them have a positive experience at the vet practice. This visit may also include kitten-specific items in addition to the general list above:

Vaccines. Depending on your kitten’s age and how many vaccines they’ve already received, your vet will provide a schedule of remaining vaccines they’ll need to keep them healthy.

Socialisation discussion. Your vet may offer suggestions on how to socialise your kitten to new people, animals, and environments.


Additional information about my first visit

Let’s make a list – everyone likes lists, right? You can expect the following;

  • FREE puppy, kitten and bunny health check – that’s right, we offer a free 20 minute consultation with our vets on your first appointment! Please note, any treatment is payable and the free health check is only for veterinary time and not product. 
  • 4 Weeks instant pet health insurance – Please note, we confirm our health check has taken place and then you will receive an email with information that you MUST complete on the day of your appointment. Financial details are not taken as this is a completely free insurance cover. 
  • Well Pet Club information
  • A vaccination card
  • A welcome pack and email
  • Lots of attention given to your pet! (Our staff love to share photo’s to make others smile on our social media platform, so they may ask if they are okay to take a photo of your pet to share on social media. Only your pets first name will be used, but if you would prefer us not to then just let us know if you are asked) 
  • An appointment for the next vaccination
  • Information regarding our puppy club (if you have a puppy of course) – currently we are not running our puppy clubs due to Covid-19, but as soon as we start them back up clients will be offered places. Oh, and it’s completely free!!!
  • Smiley faces – we adore pets, it is our passion. Don’t be alarmed if our staff parade your pet around the practice telling everyone to look how incredibly cute they are!



High priority

Priority rating – High priority

You need to contact us immediately – Please telephone 01434 607677

We are opening hours are 8.30am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 1pm Saturday.

Please phone for an appointment. 24 hour cover is provided in house by our own vets. If it is outside of normal office hours, your call will be diverted to a call handling service. Your call will be answered immediately, your details will be taken and then one of our vets will be asked to give you a call.

Medium priority

Pregnant bitch