A dog can be your best friend, and every owner knows that they experience complex emotions much like humans. From joy to fear, from anger to anxiety, our furriest family members can react to the world around them and the situations they face in many different ways.
Separation anxiety is a particular problem for pooches, because most of us simply can’t spend 24 hours a day in their company. This can be exacerbated as dogs get older, even to the extent that they will become agitated and anxious if you leave their sight for just a few moments.
So what exactly is this issue, and what can you do to minimize the impact that it has on your venerable dog’s emotional state? Let’s dive in and look at a few strategies to consider.
What is Separation Anxiety and How Can You Tell if Your Aging Dog Has It?
Separation anxiety is a common issue in dogs, especially elderly ones, that can manifest as destructive behaviors when left alone. Signs of separation anxiety include excessive barking or howling, urinating inside the home, destruction of items like furniture or clothing while you’re away, and pacing around the house.
If your older dog exhibits any of these symptoms, it could be an indicator that they are suffering from separation anxiety. It's important to understand the root cause behind this behavior so you can provide them with support during times where they have to be by themselves—such as when you go out for work.
Separation issues may be caused by socialization problems (not enough contact with other people/dogs) poor environment stimulation (lack of toys), fear-based experiences in their past such as being abandoned once before, or even just plain old boredom! Knowing what might have initiated the anxiety can help you to better address and manage it.
Keeping on Schedule: Why Routine Matters for Older Dogs with Separation Anxiety
A routine is essential for your older dog dealing with separation anxiety. Establishing a schedule helps them to better understand when you are leaving and coming back - this will help keep their mind at ease and lower any fear or anxiousness associated with being left alone.
This means not only creating consistent times of day that they may expect, but also ensuring that all elements of the daily routine remain predictable as well – such as eating/sleeping patterns, potty breaks, playtime activities and so forth.
It even applies to their diet; if they have a favorite brand like The Farmer’s Dog or The Honest Kitchen, both of which are top dog food choices as reviewed by Veterinarians, then make sure you always buy this, rather than just getting whatever is discounted at the local store.
Create a Comfort Zone for Your Senior Pooch
Making your elderly dog feel safe and secure is key to managing their separation anxiety. This starts with creating a comfortable living space that they can call home.
Ensure that the environment is inviting by providing them with plenty of soft beds, blankets, or even crates if they are more accustomed to those types of spaces – this way they have something familiar when you’re away.
Other items like toys (ones specifically made for older dogs), puzzle feeders and interactive games provide mental stimulation which can help keep their minds engaged while alone at home.
You should also aim to create an area in your house where your pup feels particularly relaxed - perhaps somewhere near windows so it has access to natural light/outdoor views or maybe include some background music as well as treats scattered around the room. These small gestures will go a long way towards keeping them content during times of loneliness.
And lastly, don't forget about external factors; for instance, you should avoid leaving them in an area of the home that is exposed to loud noises or other possible triggers.
The Bottom Line
Whatever age your dog might be, you should always be conscious of how it feels when you head out for the day, and take steps to ensure that it isn’t suffering from separation anxiety. This is good for your pooch, and also good for your soft furnishings!