Managing Separation Anxiety in Pets

Thirty years ago, the term “separation anxiety” was rarely used in dog training circles. Today, you’d be hard pressed to come across a dog trainer, veterinarian, or other animal profession who hasn’t heard of separation anxiety in pets or experienced it with their own pets.

When your pet shows symptoms of anxiety or excessive distress when left alone, he or she is experiencing separation anxiety. Most commonly seen in dogs, symptoms are typically expressed through destructive behavior, excessive barking or howling, and house soiling. You may try to crate your dog when you leave, but he will go to great lengths to avoid being confined and try to escape, no matter if this causes injury to himself or damage to his surroundings.

While it’s normal for young mammals to experience separation anxiety when separated from their parents, it is obviously not ideal. Luckily, there are steps you can take to mitigate bad behavior that arises from separation anxiety.

Downplay Goodbyes

You probably don’t like to be away from your dog just as much as he doesn’t like to be away from you. Try not to get too emotional when you have to leave the house or overexcited when you return home. Playing down your departures and arrivals will help decrease your dog’s fear of your immanent absence.

Leave Comfort Items that Remind Your Dog of You While You Are Away

That means clothing or blankets that have your scent so that your dog will be comforted by you even though you’re temporarily gone.

Leave Plenty of Toys So Your Dog Doesn’t Get Bored

Having nothing to do makes it easier for your dog to obsess over your absence. Leave plenty of toys and games for you dog to be entertained while you’re away. Hide treats around the house for your dog to find, leave on some soothing nature sounds or other background music. Anything to get your dog out of his own head.

Anxiety Treatment Pet Supplies

There are plenty of products on the market that are made specifically to help an animal deal with anxiety symptoms. Food mazes are available to keep your dog entertained and engaged. Swaddling jackets help ease anxiety by applying a constant but gentle pressure to their body (like a great, big hug!). And if all else fails, talk to your veterinarian about getting your dog prescribed some calming medicine.

 

Try not to get too frustrated when your dog acts out. He just misses you, and as long as you are dedicated to helping him develop the tools he needs to deal with your absence, your dog will learn to understand that you will always come back to him.