7 Ways to Help Your Dog Cope With Separation Anxiety
It’s time to go to work, and you know what’s coming—your pup howling and barking, pacing, scratching, chewing
Fortunately there are many things you can do, and here are a solid seven.
1. Before you go, tire them out
Take your dog for a walk, or play a vigorous game of fetch or tug before you leave. A tired and happy pup will have less energy to devote to anxiety and anxious behaviors once you’re gone.
2. Don’t make a big deal of leaving or coming back
Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan put it this way: “No touch, no talk, no eye contact.” If you don’t give your dog a long, fawning, tearful goodbye, they’re less likely to register that you’re going away from them and mirror your distress. They won’t have hurt feelings if they don’t get a goodbye, so make your departures and arrivals no sweat, business as usual.
3. Leave them with human touches
Leave some of your dirty laundry in the room with your pup so your scent can calm them. You can also put on an audiobook, as the sound of a human voice often reduces stress.
4. Leave them with positive distractions
Give your dog a treat or puzzle toy filled with peanut butter, cheese
5. Consider calming supplements
If your dog’s separation anxiety is relatively mild, there are over-the-counter calming products that can work wonders in reducing fearfulness in dogs.
6. Take away the power of cues
Your dog is observant, and when they see you putting on shoes, a coat, picking up your keys or purse, they know your departure is imminent, and
7. Ramp up the conditioning
Once your pup is getting less anxious at the sight of you preparing to leave, you can begin to do just that, in a strategic way. At an inside door, a bathroom or bedroom, tell your pup to sit or down and stay, then close the door between you. After just a few seconds, reappear. Very gradually increase the length of your absence. You can even put on your shoes or pick up your keys. When your pup is doing well with this, move to an outside door, but, if possible, not the one you usually exit through. Give them a treat when you’ve built up to some seconds or minutes apart. Always act very calm when you come and go.
This is the long game for reducing your dog’s separation anxiety, and it will require time and patience. You’ll have to work slowly to extended periods of separation, but if done steadily and correctly, your pup will be handling hours without you like a champ. No more chewed shoes or unfortunate puddles!