How To Minimize And Ease Dog Separation Anxiety
The following explores dog separation anxiety, how to identify the signs of it and what you can do to help relieve your pet's stress when you leave them home alone.
Pet parent guilt is real. When you have to leave the house and leave your dog home alone, chances are you’re worried whether:
- He’s lonely
- If she will chew your favorite shoes
- If his separation anxiety can be addressed to make being apart not as traumatic for either of you
Handling dog separation anxiety can be tricky, but remember to be patient, because it will take time.
Dogs who suffer separation anxiety get either overly excited when you leave the home and are overly excited when you come back. They can be destructive, have bathroom accidents in the home, lick or chew themselves to the point where they’re missing fur and could be “overly” clingy aka velcro dog when you’re home.
We certainly want our dogs to be happy when we come home, but we don’t want them to make themselves ill when we’re away nor do we want them to destroy our homes.
Dog separation anxiety is triggered when they become upset due to a sudden change that involves a physical separation from their companions. One of the most common complaints associated with separation anxiety is destructive behavior to the home when left alone and is actually a symptom of distress.
Signs Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Here are some signs that your dog might have separation anxiety:
- They destroy your home and/or furniture
- They bark incessantly while you’re away
- They lick or chew themselves
- They pace
- They try to escape by breaking through a window
How To Help Relieve Dog Separation Anxiety
Remember, change is scary for our pets and they are looking to us for guidance on how to relieve their stress. Our friends at the ASPCA have some tips on how to make your pets feel more at ease.
Rule out any medical concerns.
- Has your pet started a new medication? Have they recently been diagnosed with a condition by their veterinarian? Major changes like these can affect your pet's behavior. Make sure to talk with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action to help your pet.
Help them develop a positive relationship with your new routine.
- Help prep your pets before you head back to the office by simulating short periods away from home. Reward your pet by providing them with their favorite treat or a frozen peanut butter KONG as you leave. Keep repeating this process and extend your time away. Soon, your pet will associate you leaving with the good things that you've given to them.
- KEY TIP: Remove these high-value treats/toys when you return home so that your pet only has access to them while you're away.
- Simulate leaving home and keep your trips short at first. Gradually increase the time away before heading out for a full day.
- Keep the same routine before leaving the house - pets pick up on our cues.
- If you're able, come home for lunch or short walks during the day or hire a dog walker.
- Seek out the help of a professional.
- For moderate to severe separation anxiety or if you're pet isn't adjusting after several weeks, seek out the help of your veterinarian or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) for help.
- Your veterinarian might be able to prescribe medication that reduces anxiety.
Some Additional Tips To Ease The Anxiety
If your dog has mild separation anxiety you may be able to address it through behavior modification and short separations, followed by longer times apart. He may come to realize that even though you’re leaving, you are coming back and that may ease his anxiety.
First and foremost, follow our guide to leaving your dog home alone.
Talk with your vet to rule out any medical conditions. Your vet may recommend anti-anxiety medications if your dog is truly having a hard time coping with your being away.
Get a pet sitter to come and stay while you’re gone. This may not be economically feasible, but if you have a friend or family member who can come and stay with your pup, that might help.
Give your dog a special toy or treat that he only gets when you’re leaving the house. He will come to equate this special and unique treat with your being gone.
Turn on DOGTV. This is special television programming scientifically developed to be of comfort to your dog when you’re not home. Rather than leaving your dog in a completely silent house, DOGTV will provide companionship that will help calm your dog, keep him company and keep him entertained.
Put them in “clothing” that will help with separation anxiety. Items such as the Thundershirt or Surgi-Snuggly’s Wonder Suit wraps your dog in a comforting embrace and that can help him deal with separation anxiety while you’re away from home. Wearing a Wonder Suit might make it possible for you to come home to a house that remains intact!
Our Scratch Guard Products Can Help
Getting a handle on your dog's separation anxiety can be tough on you and your pet. Seeing our pet's eyes as we close the door and leave alone tugs at our pet loving hearts. Even more, dog anxiety can often lead to excessive chewing or scratching of doors, window sills and furniture.
Fortunately, our scratch guard products offer you a chance to protect the work you've put into decorating your home while you work through these issues.
CLAWGUARD's safe solutions allow your to install protective shields, without hardware that protect your pets paws.
Most importantly, our shields, protection tape and window sill covers prevent your pet from cutting or getting splinters in their paws or cutting their gums while chewing on the edges of windows and door frames.
Our Universal Scratch Shields protect the areas most prone to destruction, including doors, door frames, window sills, and walls. They can be installed virtually anywhere: screen doors, glass, and more.
Our heavy duty Door Shields, with 3M adhesive stickers, allow you to protect any door, any where with no damaging screws or nails. Our window sill covers adjust to fit any standard window sill.
Handling separation anxiety can be tricky, but remember to be patient, because it will take time, but it can be achieved by following these simple tips and practices in combination with scratch deterrent products.