Tips For Helping Your Dogs Combat Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is… well, exactly what it sounds like. It’s when your dog gets anxious, agitated, and/or upset when they have to be separated from their owner (that’s you). Dogs are true companion animals and desire to be close to you. That means for some pups, their desire to be in your presence can lead to their distress or even destructive behavior when you leave. Your dog’s separation anxiety can be triggered when they notice you getting ready to leave the house, by a specific action (like putting on your shoes), or when they realize you’re not around (“Hey, where did my person go?!”). Personally, I think having a dog with separation anxiety is just as hard on us as it is on them because we know that as soon as we walk out the door there is nothing more we can do for them. Here are some tips that have helped me provide a better experience for my dog Hot Sauce
A tired dog is More Relaxed Include mental as well as physical stimulation prior to leaving your dog this means making sure that you include extra time in the mornings before you head off of work to give them a walk. A brisk 20 minute walk prior to leaving will not only provide with a the opportunity for exercise it will make the routine of you leaving more enjoyable.
On days where it is too cold or too hot for a walk then providing indoor activity is a must. If your pup’s desire to be with you is strong enough to follow you from room to room, use this to your advantage. If your house has stairs, even better. Hot Sauce and i will run up and down the stairs on days where being outside is unpleasant.
Providing mental stimulation is equally as effective and can be a lifesaver when outside play is not an option. Taking the time to run through their commands or learn a new trick will be rewarding to both you and your pup. You can also incorporate puzzle toys with treats or feeders that release food when an action has been completed. This will allow them 2 focus on a the fun of you being out of the house.
Hire a Mid-Day Dog Walker As the owner of a pet-sitting and dog walking company of course I would say hire a midday dog walker! But honestly, it is a great way to give them companionship and exercise in the middle of the day if you can’t make it home. In fact on the days that I am super busy my dog Hot Sauce gets treated to a mid-day visit from one of my pet sitting team. Breaking up the day and providing them with physical and mental activity as well as a little love can ease their stress. Dogs are routine oriented animals they will anticipate and look forward to their regular visit from their pet care professional
Provide a Simple Routine for Leaving the Home
Minimize the fuss when you leave. You might be tempted to give your dog some extra hugs and kisses before leaving for the day. But that could actually increase anxiety. Try to refrain from touching, talking to, or even looking at your dog as you go through the door. That could send the message that your dog shouldn’t get upset about your leaving. It’s another part of the regular routine. But if you can’t bring yourself to leave your dog without giving them some affection, try to give out the hugs and kisses well before you leave.When you leave, give your dog a treat or a puzzle toy to play with to distract them. Frozen Kongs and puzzle toys are GREAT for this and not only provide a distraction but a pleasant experience during your departure. A dog swaddling jacket can also help ease your pup’s anxiety by applying constant gentle pressure to their body. Additionally your return home should also be uneventful When you come back, quietly say hello and don’t get too affectionate until your dog has calmed down. A calm departure and return routine will keep your dog from thinking there is a reason they should be worried
Anti-anxiety Products There are a variety of products designed to help calm our dogs. The attraction of such products, is that they require little to no work from us. However, it is also unclear how effective they truly are.
Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) s a synthetic chemical that was developed based on a hormone produced by nursing mother dogs. Mother dogs produce this hormone to help their puppies feel calm and secure. It also helps the mother dog establish a positive bond with her puppies.Scientific studies *do* show that DAP has a positive effect on puppies. However, it is unclear whether DAP helps with anxiety problems in adult dogs.
There are also a variety of natural calming scents, including lavender, and other herbal remedies. I recently participated in an educational webinar through PSI on using essential oils with pets, primarily dogs. Here are some tips from the webinar:
1) Diffuse in well‐ventilated areas for short periods of time:
– 15 minutes 1‐2 times daily can be sufficient
– With good ventilation, 1‐2 hours in larger open areas is okay
2) Place diffusers away from bird cages, fish tanks, reptile & rodent habitats
3) Be sure cats can easily exit the area
4) Don’t apply essential oil products in or near eyes, ears, nostrils, anal or genital areas
– If essential oils do contact these areas, wipe with vegetable oil, milk or yogurt (essential oils are fat‐soluble) followed by a sterile saline solution
5) Claims of an essential oil “cure‐all” are false:
– Your dog’s age, temperament, health, rescue status, symptoms and scent preferences all contribute to which essential oils are appropriate to use
If you are interested in incorporating Essential Oils into your pet care routine work with someone who is educated in the use with pets. I recommend Earth Heart Inc: https://earthheartinc.com/
What NOT to Do
Do not scold or punish your dog. Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. Punishing will only increase their worries and make it more likely to happen again. If your dog is being destructive or soiling their environment (your home) then provide a safe place for them to be while you are gone. Keep in mind that creating should be a place of refuge and never used as punishment.