There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to worry about your dog when you’re away. Sometimes, dogs can get lonely or anxious when their owners leave them alone, even if it’s only for a few hours. To combat this problem, here are a few tips for how to help your dog with separation anxiety.
Identifying Separation Anxiety
Before taking steps to combat separation anxiety, it’s important to know the signs. Separation anxiety in dogs can present itself through destructive behavior, accidents, pacing, and bothersome barking and whining while you’re gone. If your dog doesn’t tend to do these things unless you leave the house, these behaviors are likely a result of separation anxiety.
Determining Triggering Actions
Dogs are very observant of their human counterparts, and their anxiety can be set off by certain signals that you’re about to leave the house. Actions like saying goodbye to your dog or picking up your keys might seem harmless to you, but dogs will pick up on these triggers letting them know you’re about to leave. Take a look at any signals that might tell your dog that you’re about to leave, then you can start the desensitization process. Potential triggers may include:
- Putting on your shoes
- Packing a work or school bag
- Locking doors
- Turning off lights
- Jingling keys
Desensitizing Your Dog To Triggers
Once you’ve figured out what triggers might indicate that you’re leaving the house, you can desensitize your dog to them by doing them at random times during the day. If you pick up your keys to jingle them then set them down throughout the day, for example, this will sever the tie between the trigger and the act of leaving the house. Sometimes you can even hide triggers from your dog so they don’t even witness it, like changing your clothes or packing your bag in a different room where your dog can’t see you.
Providing Calming Stimulus
The goal for making your dog comfortable with separation is to make their environment calming when you’re gone. It can be unsettling, for example, if you usually have the TV or music playing when you’re home and when you’re gone the house is silent. Try leaving some music or a familiar TV show playing while you’re gone, so the house sounds the same to your dog when you’re gone as when you’re home.
Give Them A Comfortable “Home Base”
Your dog needs a space to curl up in that feels safe, especially if your dog suffers from separation anxiety. This could be a crate if your dog is crate-trained, but it can also be a corner or room with a comfortable dog bed, water bowl, and plenty of toys for distraction.
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