Separation Anxiety in Dogs

As more of us get back to work, and perhaps school (in the fall), many dogs whose owners have been home these past few months may suddenly feel anxious when left alone during the day. Especially puppies who are young or have recently been adopted…they are used to their pack being around them all the time, so this new world of solitude will be new and sometimes scary for them. Here are some signs of separation anxiety to look for :

1. continuous barking, whining, pacing
2. drooling
3. excessive chewing or chewing through walls
4.wanting to escape the house/run away
5.dilated pupils
6. howling
7. urinating/defecating inappropriately
8. digging

If your dog is starting to exhibit these behaviours, here are some tips to help their stress level and train them to “self soothe”:

Crate training

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

If your dog is used to being in a crate, this may be the best option to keep him calm and out of trouble when alone. If he’s not used to a crate, train him to accept going in the crate, but train slowly. You never want to shove a dog in a crate unless it’s an emergency. Doing so will cause more anxiety. Start by putting the crate in a room that’s quiet but not one that nobody uses, and not in a closet. In the corner of the den or bedroom are popular options. Leave the crate door open so he can go in and explore if he wants. Place a mat or small dog bed inside it for comfort. Start putting treats inside so hopefully he’ll go in on his own to eat them. You can even feed your dog inside so he equates the crate with positive things. Once he gets used to going inside, try closing the door behind him and feeding more treats. After a couple minutes, let him out. Do a few sessions of this training a day and work up to increased amount of time in the crate. Then try leaving him to go out for a short walk. If he howls nonstop, you may have to go back a few steps and start training again until he feels more comfortable. You might even have one of those dogs that will never like to use a crate. Hire a professional trainer if you aren’t successful.

Calm music

When you leave, leave either a TV on with low volume, or calm music. Some cable systems even have dog.tv, a channel specifically programmed with dogs’ anxiety in mind!

Toys and puzzles

Check out my previous blog for ideas of interactive toys and puzzles to keep his mind busy.

Calming treats and pheromones

Try the many different hemp or CBD treats and products in pet stores. We like www.tigertailfoods.com for CBD products. Also pheromone diffusers work well for some dogs. They are an all natural plug in wall diffuser with an unscented pheromone-like liquid inside that mimics a bitch’s pheromones. This calms her puppies, and may help yours. You can buy CBD, hemp treats and pheromone diffusers at most major pet stores and Pupologie.com

Avoid triggers

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Before you leave your dog, you may notice he already knows you’re leaving, as if he’s psychic! Dogs are very keen to pick up on your behaviours prior to leaving. For example, when you grab your phone, car keys, briefcase, etc. Try to switch up your routine or keep those items close to the door or in the garage if possible. Say ‘goodbye’ to him earlier than when you want to leave, and ignore him when you leave and come home. This tells him it’s not a big deal that you’re coming and going. Hard to do, but it helps!

Exercise

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Make sure your dog gets lots of walking/exercise before you leave. Not only to empty his bladder, but tire him out, so he will be more willing to rest when you’re away.

Breaks

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

If you’re going to be gone long hours, set up regular walks and visits with a pro pet sitter. Contact us today so we can meet and set up a regular routine and contract. Dogs need routine and time to stretch and run and play!

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