Separation anxiety in dogs can be as upsetting for humans as it is for pooches. In some cases, separation anxiety occurs from past trauma but in other cases, it happens with little warning or explanation. Because dogs cannot talk, it is hard to know what your dog is thinking or feeling. Whatever may be causing separation anxiety in dogs, knowing how to deal with the anxiety will help you and your dog deal with departures more easily.
Dealing With Separation Anxiety in Dogs
If you are struggling with separation anxiety in dogs, here are some things that may help make coming and going less of an ordeal.
Change your going away signals.
Every dog knows how to read the signals for W-A-L-K-I-E-S. Every dog also knows how to read signals that you are getting ready to go out. Something as simple as putting on your coat or getting your keys out lets your dog know what is about to happen. This is when the anxiety starts to kick in, causing stress before you’ve even left. Try changing your signals – put your coat on a while before you leave, have keys ready in advance, and give your dog a treat or interactive toy to distract her while you sneak out.
Downplay goodbyes and hellos.
When you make a big fuss over your dog every time you leave and come back, she quickly starts to learn that going out is a big deal. As a result, more fear is generated when you say goodbye and leave the house. Instead, keep goodbyes and hellos simple and calm, without increasing emotion and excitement. This will help show your dog that it is not such a big deal when you come and go.
Train your dog to be alone.
Finally, you can also train your dog to be left alone for a while. Start with very short breaks in separate rooms and work your way up to longer spells with you out of the house. Use comfort plush toys, interactive toys, dog videos and music, try hiding treats all over the house, and get your dog used to having her own space that she can retreat to alone. You can also leave items of clothing that smell like you to help soothe and comfort your dog. A playpen is always useful for puppies learning how to be left alone.
At Cat Nerd, we’ve got a range of dog toys that help add comfort and ease separation anxiety in dogs of all ages.