Today’s guest writer is Robbi Hess, Story Editor at Positively Woof. Robbi is sharing tips to help your dog deal with separation anxiety as part of train your dog month.
January is Train Your Dog Month and we know that “training” takes many forms. Use positive reinforcement training to help your dog learn a trick or to “sit,” “stay,” or “come when called.” You can also train your dog to perform as a therapy dog, to take food nicely from your fingers, or patiently wait for you to get home.
If your dog doesn’t “patiently wait for you to get home” or if he suffers separation anxiety, you will suffer pet parent separation anxiety because you worry about your dog and how stressed he is while you’re away.
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Not all dogs suffer separation anxiety
If your dog suffers separation anxiety, you know you may come home to:
- Chewed up shoes
- Scratched up doors
- Complaints from neighbors because he barked all day
You and your dog don’t have to suffer separation anxiety. There are ways to address it and help him better cope, and not chew your favorite shoes, while you’re away from home and he is home alone.
5 Ways To Help A Dog Deal With Separation Anxiety
Rule out any medical condition. If your dog is frantic, pacing, drooling, peeing in the house, or barking the entire time you’re away, talk with your vet. Your veterinarian can rule out any medical condition that may be causing your dog to act this way. For example, inappropriate peeing in the house could mean she has an infection; it could simply mean she is anxious while you’re away. You need to rule out medical issues.
Make leaving and coming home “no big deal.” If you hug and kiss and “baby talk” your dog when you leave – for example – “I’ll be home soon baby. You’ll be all right.” – your dog will pick up on your emotions and that enhances his anxiety. Our dogs are empathetic to our emotions. If our dogs know we are feeling anxious, they will feel anxious.
Give your dog a scratch under the chin or a few loving pets then leave the house. Make leaving the house no big deal. Even if you’re experience pet parent separation anxiety you should calmly walk out the door. Your dog will notice your sense of calm and may not feel as anxious.
Make coming home a “non-event.” Yes, you want to hug, and kiss, and dance around with your dog, but if you do, it will amp up the stress for your dog. Calmly walk into the house. If she is barking and jumping on you, try to ignore her. Don’t say her name. Set your stuff down and when she’s calm offer her a treat and a “good girl!” and pet her to your heart’s content.
You may need to spend time and extend the amount of time you leave the house. If your dog is anxious, leave her alone for about fifteen minutes. The next time you leave, leave her alone for thirty minutes and so on, until she realizes you will return.
Your dog relies on you to alleviate his separation anxiety
A tired dog is a relaxed dog. Change your routine to allow for a long walk or a rousing game of fetch before you leave. Exercising your dog may just make him tired enough that he is relaxed and will sleep while you’re away. If it’s bad weather and you can’t go out-of-doors for a walk, play indoor games he enjoys to tire him out.
Crate train your dog. Some dogs love crates. Pet parents who want their dogs to spend time in a crate – for the dog’s safety and the pet parent’s peace of mind – should start training when the dog is young or right after you’ve adopted him if he’s an adult.
The dog’s crate should be his own personal getaway. Her crate should not to be used as a punishment. Give your dog a special blanket or bed in the crate. Give him a special toy in the crate. Use the crate when you’re home so he doesn’t connect being crated with being alone. Crate-trained dogs usually come to look at the crate as their personal space. Their crate is a place to which they can retreat when they want to sleep or relax with a toy.
Whether you put your dog in her crate when you leave or leave it open so she has the run of the house, you can give her a special, high quality treat she doesn’t normally get. Put peanut butter in a KONG and freeze it. She will be able to chew and lick out the peanut butter for hours. Give him a snuffle mat to play with and to search out the special treats you’ve hidden inside; this will give your dog mental enrichment along with physical treats.
If your dog equates, “my mom or dad is leaving” with “I get an amazing treat” he might relax and enjoy the treat. Make certain the treat you give when you leave is something he doesn’t get regularly. In fact, if you leave him home often, find unique treats and give a different treat every day, if possible so he doesn’t get bored.
Don’t leave your dog home alone in a silent environment
DOGTV as a companion. DOGTV’s scientifically-developed programming was developed to help dogs feel happier and more relaxed. When DOGTV is playing, either on your television or streamed from your computer or tablet, your dog is never home alone.
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Provides sights and sounds your dog will love
- Enriches your dog’s well-being and quality of life.
Another benefit of DOGTV is that when you turn it on, you and your dog can snuggle up on the couch together and enjoy the programming. In fact, when you first sign up for DOGTV (and you can get a FREE 3-day subscription by clicking here we suggest that you and your dog watch together. For a dog who doesn’t usually watch television, it is a way to help him pay attention to the dog-centric program that is meant to enrich his environment – although, he doesn’t know that he will see the images on the screen and hear the sounds and the programming will help him relax.
Your dog doesn’t have to sit, glued to the screen because dogs don’t consume television program the way humans do, to gain the enrichment benefits the programming provides. Having DOGTV on in the background provides companionship, stimulation, and sounds that will help alleviate his loneliness and separation anxiety.
Pet separation anxiety is a very real issue that pet parents deal with when they leave their fur-babies at home. Use these tips to help alleviate your dog’s separation anxiety and help her rest more easily while you’re away.
Sign up for a FREE 14-day DOGTV subscription, a gift that will enrich the life of your dog.