30/06/2020 by Stephanie
Does your dog become destructive or distressed when left alone? Read more about how to help your pet combat their loneliness.
Separation anxiety describes dogs that usually are overly attached or dependent on their people. They become extremely anxious when left alone and usually show distressed behaviors. This can be seen as vocalization, destruction, or house soiling when separated from the owners.
During the event of a separation, they may be restless, pace, tremble, and drool. This can cause the dog to exhibit unwanted behaviors such as house soiling, destructive chewing, and howling.
What can trigger separation anxiety?
- New environment
- Change in routine
- Loss of a family member
- Medical issues
- Medications that cause increased urination
What can I do to help my pet experiencing separation anxiety?
- Don't make a big deal out of arrivals and departures — ignore your dog for the first few minutes then calmly pet them with long, slow strokes.
- Practice a “semi-absence”. Do many, many extremely brief (1 – 30 seconds) absences with no fanfare on departure or arrival.
- Increase physical exercise and mental stimulation.
- Always use positive reinforcement. Any negative reinforcement can create more severe anxiety.
- Leave your dog with clothes or blankets that smell like you.
- Establish a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you'll be back.
- Consider using an over-the-counter calming product that reduces fearfulness in dogs or talk with your Veterinarian about prescription medications that may help.
- Provide a safe space for them to be left alone in like a kennel or crate, feeding them in the kennel may make them feel like it is their own space
- For severe separation anxiety, pets may need intervention from a licensed canine behavioralist.
Make sure your pet gets lots of exercise every day. A tired, happy dog will be less stressed when you leave. It's also key that you challenge your pet's mind. Play training games, play fetch, and use interactive puzzles. Try to challenge his intellectual energy and physical energy to help keep him busy, happy, and too tired to be anxious while you're away.
As always, contact your Veterinary team to learn more about how you can help your pet with separation anxiety.