Separation anxiety is one of the most common problems dogs and their owners deal with.
Dogs are naturally very social animals, and they never enjoy being left on their own for very long. While some dogs seem to cope okay, others may turn to destructive behavior or become highly stressed and anxious whenever they are left on their own.
In this guide, we’re going to share a few tips and pieces of advice that can be useful when you’re trying to help your dog overcome separation anxiety – so let’s get started.
Be Patient With Your Dog
Firstly, an anxious dog will need gentle handling and plenty of patience. Problems caused by separation anxiety can take a long time to cure in some cases, so it’s important not to become too frustrated with any unwanted behaviors they may be showing when they’re feeling stressed by separation.
Consider Getting A Second Dog
In many cases, getting your dog some company and companionship will go a long way towards keeping them happier when they’re by themselves with nobody else in the home. Of course, a second dog will require some thought and planning as well, but it’s safe to say that having another dog to share time with can help to alleviate separation anxiety.
Training Your Dog To Cope
One thing you can try to do is teach your dog to be calm when alone. You can start this by leaving them alone for a short period of time, and over the course of a few weeks, gradually increase the periods of separation.
Whenever you’re going to be leaving your dog in a room alone, you can try leaving a toy that you’ve rubbed in your hands so your dog will associate the scent with you. This will comfort your dog when you’re not there and let him know that you’ll be coming back.
Often, a large part of the anxiety is due to your dog not being sure whether you’ve gone for good. After all, a dog doesn’t understand the concept of you going to work or popping out to a store. But if your dog believes you’ve only left temporarily, then they should feel less nervous.
You can check to see at what point your dog is becoming bored or lonely by leaving them in a room alone for a few minutes with a favorite toy.
After a few minutes have passed, simply go back into the room and see if they’re still entertained.
It’s a good idea to praise them for not showing signs of boredom, such as barking, pacing, or scratching at the door, too.
Your dog will soon learn to associate calm, relaxed behavior with positive praise, so they will be more inclined to stop barking, scratching, or being destructive. You should keep repeating this exercise in different rooms and over different periods of time until your dog can be left alone without any sign of anxiety at all.
Give Plenty Of Exercise
Before you leave your dog alone, it’s a good idea to give them plenty of mental and physical exercise. Exhausted dogs are less likely to bark, dig, and destroy things – so try to give them a walk before you have to leave them alone.
Often, this will go a long way towards reducing the worst aspects of separation anxiety.
Spend Time With Them
If it’s possible, you should take your dog with you to your workplace so they can still be with you during the day. Obviously, this will really cut down on any separation anxiety your dog may suffer from during the day.
But if this isn’t possible, try to schedule some playtime each day so your dog has plenty of mental stimulation and attention.
Hire A Dog Walker
If you have to leave your dog alone for long periods of time, you should strongly consider hiring a professional dog walker, or ask a friend to come round and walk your dog for you during the day.
These services are becoming more and more affordable, and it will be a huge help. Ultimately, it’s something your dog will really benefit from and appreciate.
Keep Your Dog Occupied
When you leave your home you should consider drawing the curtains and leaving a radio on.
This will cover outdoor noises that might startle your dog and make them bark, and the radio will help to give some noise that sounds familiar.
This can be very reassuring to your dog and generally help to keep them calmer throughout the day.
However, if you’re going to leave a radio on, be very careful about the station you use. Certain sounds may cause audio fatigue and cause more stress for your dog. Fortunately, you may be able to find specific radio stations or TV channels that cater for dogs – and these channels will present suitable material for keeping your dog calm and content, so they can be a great trick to use. DogTV, in particular, can be a great investment for a dog who’s suffering from separation anxiety. – so it’s well worth checking out.
Something else that goes hand in hand with keeping your dog occupied is investing in some interactive toys to keep your dog engaged. For example, many toys will gradually drop food treats while your dog plays with them, and this kind of interactive ‘puzzle’ toy will keep your dog happy for a surprisingly long period of time.
Last update on 2021-04-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API