Separation anxiety and stress are common among dogs and it is one of the main reasons why they destroy your furniture or chew on your shoes while you’re away.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a frantic and often destructive behavior that is caused by separation from pet parents. But most times, many dog owners mistook this for other behavioral problems like spite or disobedience.
But the main reason why dogs get upset and distressed is that they are far from their parents.
Other causes of separation anxiety include new socialization patterns, long vacations, changes in their surroundings, premature adoption, lack of training, heredity behavior, or simply boredom.
Signs of Separation Anxiety and Stress
When your dog suffers from separation anxiety and stress, they often display the following signs:
- Dilated pupils
- Trembling and pacing
- Scratching at furniture
- Ignoring food
- Destroying items in the home
- Exuberant greetings
- Attempts to escape from a room or crate
Simple Ways of Reducing Separation Anxiety and Stress in Dogs
As a pet parent, you have the responsibility of finding what works to calm your dog’s anxiety and stress. You don’t necessarily have to consult a medical professional; you can achieve a great result on your own with persistence and dedication.
There are some simple ways of reducing separation anxiety and stress in dogs. These include some behavioral changes that will teach your pup to accept that being alone is not scary.
Check out these simple measures below:
1. Downplay hellos and goodbyes
Learn not to shown overexcitement when you get back from home, and don’t get emotional before leaving home. This way, you’re giving less attention to your departure and return, hence, helping your dog not to be fearful of your absence.
You can calmly quietly say “hello” when you get back from work, and before leaving home, you can simply say goodbye and leave. The point is not to get too affectionate until your dog has learned to be calm.
2. Change your “going away” signals
You can leave your shoes, purse, or key in a different location and use different doors when going out. The major aim is to break the impression that these actions mean you’re leaving them. This way, you don’t trigger separation anxiety.
You can give your dog a treat or a toy before leaving. This helps to distract them, and some calming treats can be used as a short-term remedy for treating separation anxiety.
More so, calming treats teach your pooch that they can stay alone even when you leave them.
3. Create personal space for your pup
When you sleep with your pup all the time, it creates a bond and they tend to suffer separation anxiety whenever you’re not around. The best thing to do is to get them a separate dog bed where you can give treats and pet them to sleep.
This measure helps to teach your dog to enjoy their personal space and be independent of you. After some time, they don’t get anxious even when you’re leaving in the presence.
4. Train your dog to stay alone even when you are at home
Learn to tell your pooch to stay in a different room by themselves while you stay in a different part of the house.
You can start by leaving them alone in a room for small periods, say 5 minutes. After some time, you can progress to leaving them for up to 30 minutes over several weeks.
5. Exercise your dog before departure
One thing you need to know is that when dogs are tired, they tend to rest and forget about the fear of being alone.
You can exercise your pooch for at least 30 minutes before leaving home. This way, you tire them out and divert their attention to food and sleep.
6. Buy a pet cam
It is now possible to interact with your dog while on vacation or at work using a pet camera. These devices are more advanced than ever and they let you see and play with your dog.
You can get cameras with a built-in laser toy to play with your dog if they like lasers. This kills boredom and makes your dog feel your presence even when you’re away from home.
Besides, using a pet camera is an effective solution for dog separation anxiety that helps to combat bad behavior. You can even dispense treats on your cue just to reward good behavior.
7. Leave comfort items for your dog
Some items that have your scent work well to make your dog believe you’re still around. You can leave your dirty laundry around them to relax them and make them have confidence that you will come back.
Also, remove stress factors like collars, chokers, chains, or crates if you notice that your dog doesn’t like them.
You can also keep your dog busy by hiding treats around the house so they can hunt for them while you’re away.
One other interesting way to relax your dog and make them fall asleep is to play soothing nature songs around them.
8. Help your dog socialize with other dogs
You can take your furry friend to the dog park to let them socialize with other dogs. This helps to reduce separation anxiety in your dog. So instead of leaving your pup all alone while you’re away, you can allow them to spend some time around other dogs.
Even when you have a lot of time to spend with your dog, you still need to teach them how to be around other dogs. This helps to reduce boredom and behavioral issues like digging and chewing.
9. Try natural supplements
While some owners do not fancy adding anything to alter their dog’s behavior, it is essential in some cases to add natural supplements to your dog’s diet.
Some calming solutions are available in form of pseudo-treats and some are added to your dog’s water. You don’t have to worry about side effects; the solutions are natural.
However, keep in mind that all dogs are different in response to supplements, so ensure you consult with your vet before adding anything to your pup’s food or water.
10. Stay in control
No matter how your dog expresses their displeasure being alone, always stay calm and in control. The truth is pups look at you to get cues on how they should behave.
If you’re upset and anxious, your dog will begin to mirror those emotional cues, and before you know it, you’re worsening separation anxiety in your dog instead of helping it.
So, learn to always be the “alpha” of your little pack. Project the confident energy of a pack leader and let your dog know everything is going to be okay. This way, you’ll help them become less anxious since they know that someone in control.
However, don’t expect your separation anxiety to die down immediately when you stay in control. Your pup might just need a little more time to get better. So be patient and keep being strong for them.
Always remember that there is no magical cure for separation anxiety in dogs. The above measures will produce a positive result but require your dedication and commitment. If your dog still shows signs of separation anxiety after the measures above, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian for proper checkup and treatment.