As we leave the pandemic behind us and start spending more time away from home, our pups may be feeling a bit blue. Even if a dog was perfectly fine spending time on their own pre-pandemic, the amount of time we have spent in our homes in the recent past can cause separation anxiety in even the most confident of pets.
Here is what you can do to help your dog cope with any separation anxiety, and ease them back to your usual routine.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
A dog who is experiencing separation anxiety will most often exhibit destructive behavior, and either attack the door you walked out of the house through, or start tearing apart the furniture. They will also howl or bark excessively, and start weeing and pooing indoors.
Some dogs may also start to shake or tremble, they may be pacing in circles, or even vomit.
Punishing this behavior will not solve the underlying problem.You can try the usual tricks to stop your dog from barking, and you can reward them for their good behavior, but you will also most likely need to apply some of these steps too:
Create a Pleasant Space
Your dog will appreciate having a safe space they can retreat to when they are left to their own devices.
Set them up with a create, a play pen or a bed, or provide access to a small room where you will leave plenty of toys and a water bowl.
Leave Your Scent Behind
Dogs can be calmed by the scent of their owners, so try leaving a shirt or blanket behind that smells like you. Tuck it into their bed or on the sofa before you leave, but remember to remove it when you get home.
Leave the TV On
Some dogs love to watch TV or listen to music. If your pup isn’t the kind to get so excited when they see something interesting on TV that they start charging at it, you can leave some background noise for them while you are away.
Establish a Routine
Dogs like to have a routine in place. The more stability you are able to provide, the more relaxed they will feel overall, and the less stressed they will be when you leave, as they will know when they can expect you back.
Walks, meal times, playtime and alone times should happen at the same time every day, if at all possible.
Keep Them Active
A dog that is full of energy will likely feel a lot more stressed when you are away, partly due to the boredom. By making sure your dog is active every day, that you take at least one long walk and play plenty of high activity games, like fetch or tag, they will both be healthier, and more relaxed day in and day out.
You can also get them an activity toy, like a food dispensing ball, to play with while you are away. Try hiding treats or toys around the house for them to look for too.
Leave the House Quickly
Spending several minutes saying goodbye to your dog or telling them to behave while you are away in that special dog voice we all have can increase their anxiety. Instead, be cool and calm about your departure, and just exit the premises without making any fuss about it.
Try to vary your routine as well: if you do the same things in the same order before you leave the house every time, your dog will know what is about to happen, and they might work themselves up.
You can also try desensitizing your pup, by rattling your keys and putting your shoes on without actually leaving the house.
Get Professional Help
If your dog’s separation anxiety is getting worse, seek help from a professional dog trainer, as the problem won’t go away over time. In fact, it will usually only get worse. Remember never to punish your dog for being anxious, even if they have exhibited the kind of behavior that you usually would.
Wrapping It Up
Separation anxiety may be quite tough on both the pup and the owner. Try to be as patient and possible, and understand that your dog is not being difficult on purpose, they are just going through a tough time. Don’t let their annoying behavior (if any) ruin the relationship you have with them, and work on making them feel more relaxed and confident, so you can leave the house with less stress.