Pet separation anxiety is a common occurrence with many dog owners around the globe. This anxiety is due to the fact that, in the outside world, dogs are rarely if ever separated from their pack. Similarly, household dogs feel it is unnatural to be separated from their human guardians. As a result, they can act out in a number of ways, such as destruction of furniture, defecation, urination or continuous barking, whining or howling. These behaviors can disrupt both the pet owner and any surrounding neighbors! Luckily, there are a few ways to deal with separation anxiety with pets:
1) Don’t Make Goodbyes A Big Deal
A common mistake with pet owners is to make a big goodbye before leaving a pet for the day. This goodbye can include actions like hugging, kissing or speaking to the pet. While it is natural to want to say goodbye to any animal or person you may be leaving for a while, this can actually work to make a dog extra anxious when their owners leave. They will quickly learn that these actions are associated with leaving and begin to act out when performed. Instead, make leaving the house a normal and calm occurrence with no big show. Giving a simple goodbye will make it much easier for your dog in the long run.
2) Make Sure Your Dog Has Exercised
It’s been proven that exercise for dogs improves their mental health as much as their physical health. A dog that is properly stimulated is more likely to feel less bored, anxious and restless. A dog that has not received a good amount of exercise and suffers from separation anxiety may be more prone to getting their exercise by running around the house, knocking over furniture or even tearing it apart. To ensure a dog feels less anxious before leaving, take them out on a walk before departing and make sure they get enough time to run around and play.
3) Leave Your Scent Behind
Dogs derive pleasure from the scent of their owners. This scent is a form of comfort and love for dogs and is a great way to keep dogs calm while separated from them. Leaving behind a piece of recently worn clothing can keep a dog from freaking out and instead leave them feeling relaxed and comforted until you return. Of course, choose items of clothing that you don’t mind the dog playing with!
4) For Serious Cases, Look into Medication
Sometimes, a dog’s separation anxiety case can be more severe than simply ripping up a couch or urinating on the carpet. Some pets can be affected to the point of suffering from physical side effects such as loss of sleep or refusal to eat. As a result, medication may be recommended by your veterinarian. There is a large variety of anti-anxiety medications for dogs, with some even usually prescribed for humans. The best bet would be to discuss the options with your vet, though keep in mind that medication for dogs often takes a couple of weeks to set in.
5) Consider Alternatives
If you would prefer other alternatives than completely leaving your dog alone, consider having a family member or friend stay with your dog while you are away. Conversely, look into a doggie daycare center where your dog will be surrounded by other people and dogs to play with. Even better, look into training courses to teach your dog to deal with anxious feelings safely and healthily.
Pet separation anxiety is never an easy situation to deal with for dogs or owners alike. Fortunately, with the suggestions mentioned above, there are many ways to deal with this position that will leave both you and your dog feeling happier and healthier!