Does your dog constantly bark and howl when you leave them alone? Do they chew up anything he can get his teeth into when you’re away? Chances are, they’re suffering from separation anxiety. This can manifest itself in multiple ways, from the quite severe as stated above, causing damage inside the home or simply suckling on a favourite toy or blanket in attempt to self-soothe.
However it manifests in your dog, it can be resolved. Here are some top tips to help combat their anxiety:
Before you leave for work or wherever you are going that warrants leaving your dog home alone, make sure they get some exercise beforehand. This can be a brisk walk or run or a rigorous play orientated game in the garden to really work off excess energy. Anxiety is just that, excess energy and while a workout for your dog won’t cure their separation woes, it will help take the edge off the anxiety. Afterwards, reward their calm behaviour with a treat, or meal and water. The idea is to then leave your dog in calm, resting mode while you are away.
Don’t make a big deal when you leave for the day or when you return. This way, you are communicating to your dog that the time apart isn’t an issue and doesn’t warrant any stress. Depending on the severity of their anxiety, you may need to practice and build up time gradually from five minutes or up to an hour before you leave and when you return.
If the above tip is proving difficult, take a moment to share affection and say goodbye before you leave. This won’t be detrimental as long as you don’t make too much of a fuss, or get too emotional so that it affects his mood. But bear in mind this is more for your benefit, and the guilt you may be feeling, rather than your dog’s. He may be stressed at you leaving but he isn’t taking it as rejection. If you choose not to say goodbye, his feelings won’t be hurt either way.
When you are ready to leave, leave the guilt and the concerned feelings behind. Instead, assure your dog that everything is going to be ok by projecting a confident attitude. This can really work to ease their anxiety.
Depending on the severity of your dog’s anxiety, building time up gradually can be beneficial. Leave your dog alone for five minutes, then extend the time to twenty minutes, then an hour. Continue to increase the time you spend away until you can leave for the amount of time you need to without your dog experiencing any anxiety.