Overcoming Separation Anxiety

 
 

Many dogs are upset by even the slightest change in routine and, as a result, may become anxious. These behaviors are usually worse when left alone and could include barking, howling, chewing, urinating in the house, pacing, or even trying to escape.

What Can I Do To Help?

  • Doctor Knows Best!

    • Always take your pet for a trip to the vet first to rule out any medical problems that could be causing the issues.

  • Overcome Fear

    • Help your dog associate alone time with something positive. Food and/or treat dispensing toys (such as Kongs) are a great way to keep their minds occupied and make a positive association with time spent alone.

  • Dogs Need a Job

    • Don’t let your dog become “self-employed.” Keep your dog busy and active while you’re home so that her energy is burnt up before you leave. Play time, a trip to the dog park, or a long walk are all great ways to entertain your pet.

  • Prepare for Departure

    • Your dog may automatically assume that every time you pick up your purse or put on your jacket that you are leaving and will start to get upset. Try “preparing to leave,” but simply sit back down and watch some television or read a book while dress to leave the house.

  • Baby Steps

    • Dogs don't overcome anxiety all at once. Try leaving your dog alone for very short, non-stress inducing periods of time and then gradually increase the amount of time they spend alone.

  • Togetherness

    • If at all possible, avoid leaving your pet alone except for the periods of sensitization. Seek out a pet sitter or bring your pet to work if possible. Let them gradually adjust on their own terms to periods of alone time, especially if the anxiety is severe.

  • Keep Calm and Carry On

    • Make sure all greetings and goodbyes are done in a similarly calm manner. Don’t make a scene out of leaving or coming home.

  • No Tough Love

    • Do not scold your pet for its anxious behavior! Anxiety is an issue that can be overcome and will require patience and persistence by the pet parent.