Do you have a dog? Are they anxious when you leave home? Are you searching for ways to help them feel calmer and more at ease even when no one is home? If any of this sounds like your situation, you’re not alone. Many owners deal with separation anxiety in their dogs as well.
In this article, you’ll find a few tips to help you prevent or significantly reduce the risk of separation anxiety in your pet. Read through these suggestions for some ideas you can put into practice with your own pet right away. If you have any questions, call Arbor Pet Hospital in Wilton Manors, FL at (954) 565-1896.
Cut Out the Cues
“Leaving cues” are small actions you may take that let your dog know you’re about to leave them alone. These may include putting on your shoes, picking up your keys, turning off the TV, saying “bye,” and more. All of these cues can make your dog become much more anxious in a short amount of time.
By cutting out these cues, you can help your dog learn that they don’t have to be nervous. Try acclimating them to the idea that you might put your shoes on just to sit down on the sofa for a while, for example.
Provide Old Clothes
If your dog can smell you or other members of your family, they are likely to be less nervous while alone. By providing them with old clothing or towels, you can give them a soothing scent that helps them relax. Make sure anything you give your dog is not something you want back, however, as they might chew on it.
Also be sure you only provide your dog with pet-safe clothing or towels. Don’t give them anything they could choke on or anything that has small parts they could chew off easily. You may want to tie the clothing or towel into a large knot to prevent this risk.
If your dog is dealing with severe separation anxiety, you may need to practice slowly to get them used to being left alone. Start by just walking out the front door and staying in the yard where they can’t see you for a few minutes. Over time, work up to leaving them alone for ten minutes, fifteen minutes, and so on.
Eventually, your dog should come to understand that you will not be gone forever when you leave them at home alone. However, this process may take a while, and it might not be a good solution if you need to get back to work quickly, for example.
Play with Your Dog
Playing with your dog, exercising them, and taking them on a walk before they need to be left alone are all great ways to ensure they can sleep peacefully while no one is at home with them. The more well-exercised your dog’s body is, the more likely they will be to settle down when the chance arises for a nap.
Playing with your dog every day is crucial when it comes to helping them deal with separation anxiety. This bonding experience can also help them feel more comfortable in general.
Try Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys can be a great way to help your dog calm down and feel better, even when they are left alone. You can offer a puzzle toy a short while before you need to leave home so your dog will feel mentally exercised, or you can give one while you’re away as long as it is safe for them to use unattended (with no small parts).
Puzzle toys come in a variety of styles and are all designed to make your dog think. By giving them this mental stimulation, you can help your dog feel more well-rested when the time comes to be left alone.
Perhaps the most important rule when dealing with a dog who has separation anxiety is to remain calm yourself. If you are nervous, your dog will sense this and become more nervous as well.
Additionally, you need to stay calm when you’re walking out the door. Don’t hesitate or turn back to check on your dog, but just walk confidently out and lock the door behind you. This will show your dog that there’s no cause for concern.
These tips should help you get started in dealing with your dog’s separation anxiety. Of course, in very severe cases, this information may not be quite enough, and you might need to hire a professional trainer to assist as well. Professional trainers can make a big difference in many dogs who are dealing with the effects of separation anxiety. By working with a professional trainer, you can handle the underlying problems associated with your dog’s separation anxiety. The trainer can also help you and your dog work together more fluidly so the two of you will be more likely to have success with your behavioral training together. If you have any questions, call us today at (954) 565-1896.