Many owners face a pet’s separation anxiety at one point, especially if their beloved pet is a rescue dog. Our pets become anxious because they don’t understand why we can’t just stay and play with them all day instead of going to work.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety:
- Whining, howling, barking
- Destructive chewing
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Licking or chewing their own paws
5 Tips to Help Them Overcome Separation Anxiety
- Don’t make a fuss: Come and go from the house without making a big fuss over your dog, and don’t say things like, “Mommy’s going to work now, but I’ll be home soon, so be a good dog,” before you leave. Leaving your house should just be treated as regular, everyday behaviour that is no big deal. The really hard part is coming home. Your dog will be so happy to see you, but you need to ignore him for 5 to 10 minutes when you get home. Once your dog has calmed down, you can greet him and say hello. Practise leaving for short periods of time, and build up to longer absences.
- Exercise: It sounds easy because it is. If your dog is good and tired, she’ll just rest until you get home instead of releasing all of her pent-up energy by being destructive.
- Crate train your dog: This can be an important step, especially if your dog is a destructive chewer when left alone. Not only will the dog cause damage to your belongings, but more importantly, your dog could hurt himself or swallow something dangerous. When used properly, the crate will feel like a safe place where your dog will be comfortable awaiting your return. Click here to read more about crate training.
- Distractions: Try leaving the TV or radio on for your dog. Hearing human voices throughout the day can be comforting. Classical music usually works well. Toys can be another good distraction for your dog. You can try stuffing a bone or a Kong with treats and peanut butter or Cheese Whiz and giving it to the dog before you leave. (If you put it in the freezer beforehand, this treat will last even longer.) Also, there are a lot of toys on the market that are designed to make your dog work to get at the treats inside. These are good options because they keep her busy and distracted from the thought of your absence. You can try other games as well, such as hiding treats and toys around the house so she has to spend time looking around to find them. The idea is to make the dog tired from her search so she will be more relaxed waiting for you to get home.
- Bach flower remedies: A mixture of these herbal remedies made from flower extracts can be helpful for some dogs to help ease their anxiety. These are usually more successful when some of the other techniques are used in conjunction with them. Click here to read more about Bach flower remedies.
If you are wondering what kind of exercises you could do with your dog, think no more! The Animal Guardian Society is launching agility classes in June. Click here to sign up.