Separation anxiety is a common problem among dogs and can be very stressful for the parents as well. You want to make sure your dog is safe and not feeling scared. With more pet parents potentially going back to work soon, depending where you’re at in the world, separation anxiety might be a more prominent issue for your pets! We have compiled some tips for you to help your dog with separation anxiety.
Come and go calmly. It’s very common for people to behave differently when coming and going, telling their pets “I’ll be home soon!” in a high pitched voice. This increases anxiety in your dog before you leave. Similarly, if you immediately show a lot of excitement when you arrive home, you’re setting up your dog to feel anxious. After you leave, they’ll be worked up, anticipating you coming home all day. Behaving calmly, especially when entering or leaving the home, helps dogs know that you aren’t anxious so they shouldn’t feel anxious either.
When you leave, provide some kind of distraction for your dog. Austin Pets Alive! is a fan of using Kong toys, filling them with peanut butter or wet food, topped with peanut butter, and freezing them. This gives dogs something to lick and chew on for hours since the frozen peanut butter lasts longer. Make sure the peanut butter doesn’t contain xylitol or erythritol because it’s toxic to dogs. Here are some more great ways to stuff a Kong toy by our friends at San Diego Humane Society.
Another way you can provide distraction is with white noise. This could be by leaving the tv on, the radio, or using a white noise soundtrack. Make sure the noise is something your dog is familiar with, and that it isn’t too loud, so that it does have a calming effect. This is a good tactic if there is a lot of external noise (such as construction) that is bothering your dog while you’re gone.
Kenneling your dog can be one of the best ways to keep a dog with separation anxiety safe. Some dogs become destructive when they’re anxious, and this can result in them injuring themselves. Which is exactly what we don’t want! Keeping them kenneled means they can’t get into anything in the house that could harm them. Kenneling your dog can also help create a safe space (emotionally) for your dog, as well as teach them that you do come back for them.
Just don’t forget, maintain calm behavior when putting your dog in the kennel, and when taking them out! Acting anxiously or excitedly can cause your dog to feel anxious about what is happening.
For more on keeping your dog safe, read Keeping Pets Safe During Fireworks.
“A tired dog is a happy dog” is a common saying, and when it comes to separation anxiety struggles, it is very true. Making sure your dog has adequate exercise means they have less energy and less potential for anxiety. A dog that is tired out from a walk isn’t going to have the same kind of pent up energy. Finding a place for it in your routine, and making a habit of it, is a great way to make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise.
Combining these tips should help you help your dog cope with separation anxiety, ultimately keeping them safer and happier!