Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?
Over the last year, many pet owners have spent an unusual amount of time at home with their dogs. As your household begins to go back to work and school, your dog may be experiencing some anxiety around your sudden schedule change. Separation anxiety is a common behavioral concern in dogs. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to ease your dog’s stress and create a smooth transition.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety in dogs is defined as extreme distress when your dog is left alone. Many dogs express mild signs of anxiety, such as whimpering or barking when their owner leaves. However, separation anxiety typically involves more extreme behavior. Separation anxiety is often comparable to a panic attack. Not only is this emotionally distressing for the dog, but it can also lead to destructive behavior and physical harm.
What causes separation anxiety?
There are many causes of separation anxiety in dogs. In some cases, the behavior results from a traumatic event when the dog was left alone. However, the most common cause of separation anxiety is a sudden change in the dog’s daily life or routine. For many pet owners who are returning to the office, this is a serious concern.
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety
If you suspect your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, here are some common signs to look for.
- Excessive howling or barking
- Destructive behavior (chewing on crate or doors)
- Attempts to break out of their crate or enclosure
- Excessive drooling or panting
- Pooping or peeing in the house or crate
What Can You Do to Help Your Dog’s Anxiety?
Practice Alone time
If your dog has become accustomed to spending their entire day with you, it is essential to prepare them for alone time. You can start with putting your dog in their crate or a room by themselves for a short period of time. As your dog gets more comfortable, you will slowly increase the amount of time they spend on their own.
Use High-Value Treats and Toys
It’s essential to make the time your dog spends alone a positive experience. An easy way to do this is to incorporate high-value treats or toys into your leaving routine. If your dog knows they will get a special reward when you leave, it creates a positive association and gives them something to look forward to. A great way to do this is with a treat-filled Kong.
Exercise and play time
When your dog has pent-up energy, it can increase their anxiety levels. Before leaving your dog, make sure they have plenty of time to exercise and release that energy. Tired dogs are more likely to settle and rest while you are away.
Speak with a professional
In severe cases of separation anxiety, your dog may require medication or other therapeutic aids. Even if you are using an over-the-counter product, like CBD, it is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before incorporating these products into your pet’s routine.
A professional dog trainer is another excellent resource when dealing with behavioral issues. They can help you incorporate different training techniques and address the cause of your dog’s behavior.
We all want to reduce stress in our pets’ lives. With the right tools, you can make sure your dog stays happy and safe while you are away! If you are heading back to work, make sure you understand the signs of separation anxiety.