Being left alone for prolonged periods of time may cause some dogs to become anxious – which is a negative behaviour and something you want to nip in the butt before it gets completely out of hand. Besides, having personal items destroyed or finding urination marks on your carpet isn’t something you want to come home to.
Causes of separation anxiety
- Change in your dog’s routine
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of confidence in the ‘pack leader’ – which should be you.
Symptoms of separation anxiety
- Destroying items
- Constant barking
How to treat separation anxiety
Keep your dog occupied
Leave plenty of tasks to do while you’re away by incorporating toys which require them to work for their treats such as food puzzles or balls will treat compartments, or play hide and seek with their treats. This will keep them busy for a while. You can also exercise them right before leaving, causing them to calm down and perhaps take a nap.
Don’t make a fuss of leaving
This will you’re your dog to wonder if there is really a cause to be concerned. The more fuss you make, the more they’ll think you might actually not come back. Treat the leaving process as a normal, everyday thing that happens quickly without fuss.
Desensitise your dog
Start leaving your dog on his or her own for short periods of time if possible, in order for them to get used to the feeling. Extend the time as you go along, but never start off with leaving them alone for a full day if their anxiety is severe.
Counteract negative emotions
Turn negative feelings of being alone into positive ones by rewarding them or making the time spent alone, fun. This can be done through treats, giving them a treat when you leave or allowing them to play with their favourite toy. Soon they’ll associate alone time with something positive.
Get a dog sitter
If possible, get a dog sitter or family member to keep an eye on your pooch while you’re gone. They can take them for walks, cuddle them and ensure they’re well fed during the day. Not an option for everyone, but a great option if possible.
Take your dog to work
Some companies encourage bringing your dog to work, having dog facilities available. Many companies don’t, unfortunately. Personally, I think the workplace would be a lot more relaxed and productive with a few dog kisses around.
Tip: NEVER scold your dog for feeling anxious. Anxiety isn’t the result of being disobedient. Instead, try to work through your dog’s fearfulness by implementing the above tips. Be the loving pack leader your dog deserves.