We have all heard the stories and some of us have even experienced them first hand; you arrive home from work and your couch is in shreds, or how about the notorious toilet paper party your dogs threw while you were gone? Let’s not mention the howl fest your neighbor’s complained about to the landlord. Have you ever thought about why your dog did this?
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is the stress felt by your pet while you are gone, which can trigger destructive habits like constant barking, chewing on furniture and your belongings, and even self inflicted wounds made by the dog. The reasons can range from boredom (most common reason!) to insecurity and fear of abandonment. Here is a list of simple steps you can do to help prevent and help ease the symptoms of separation anxiety in your dog:
A tired dog is a good dog, we all know this. Make a point to exercise with your dog before you leave for work, or soon after you come home to burn off that energy!
2. Hire help. Consider hiring a pet sitter, dog walker, or dropping your dog off at Doggie Day Care during the day. (Austin Dogtown is a favorite of ours!)
3. Consider crate training your dog. When it is time for my dogs to go in their crates, they always get a high value reward, such as a frozen kong filled with peanut butter and other goodies. *Tip: when given frozen, it offers a much longer reward for the dog, which gives you time to get out the door without a fuss. I think my dogs are actually happy when I leave now because of this positive system. 🙂 This high value reward ONLY comes out when I am leaving for long periods of time.
4. Rescue Remedy. I have had great success with this for short term stressful situations: Rescue Remedy It is worth a shot on extreme cases and when other steps are not working. This is also great for dogs who are fearful of storms.
4. This last one is important. When leaving and arriving home, do not make a big deal about your departure and arrival. Here’s a common scenario to avoid (and we have all done it): “Ok, Zoey, *pets dog, now you be a good girl while I’m gone and I will see you soon!!! Be a good girl, ok?” *more pets…
Here’s what I suggest doing instead: Make the times you are leaving uneventful. When I leave, I now do not say more than, “Bye Zoey and Chip..” in a platonic voice. Typically, I don’t say anything. When I come home, I don’t greet my dog’s in a high pitched voice, or walk in the door jumping up and down. I calmly walk in and ignore their wiggly butts (yes, it is hard to still resist). This has been an excellent behavior modification on my part over the years and has helped remove Zoey’s separation anxiety completely.
Here’s to happy pets and happy humans, minus the toilet paper parties. 😉
Have questions? Feel free to contact us!
Post Written By: Laura Neiheisel