Do you have a dog who doesn’t like to be left alone? Most dogs get a little upset when their owners leave for a while, but some dogs can be very challenging to deal with because of this. These dogs may have separation anxiety, which means they become extremely agitated when none of their human family is at home with them.
If your dog’s separation anxiety is keeping you or your family from being able to leave home, it’s time to do something about it. In this article, you’ll find some suggestions for managing your dog’s anxiety moving forward. Read on to find out more. If you still have questions, call Bayshore Veterinary Hospital in Holmdel, NJ at (732) 671-3110.
Dogs learn to associate leaving cues with being left alone very quickly. You may not even realize you’re giving cues to your dog, but they may recognize that you putting your shoes on means they’re going to be alone soon. This can make them start panicking before you ever leave, and can increase their anxiety while alone as well.
Work on training your dog to learn that these cues don’t always mean they’re going to be alone. Try putting your shoes on and then sitting down to watch TV, for example. It may take several weeks for this to work, but it can help a lot.
Don’t force your dog to stay home by themselves all day right away. Instead, work up slowly to this milestone. Start by simply stepping outside your house for a few minutes and waiting on the porch or in the front yard. When your dog can handle this without panicking, you can move up to longer increments of time.
Don’t rush this process. Understand that it’s going to take a while for your dog to adjust, and give them the time and space they need to do so. Pushing them too quickly will make them fearful all over again.
You can help your dog understand that they’re doing the right thing by laying down and being calm when you give them treats. If you walk away from your dog and go into another room, wait a few minutes. If they remain calm and wait for your return, you can reward them with treats.
This method may not work on your dog if their separation anxiety is extreme, but it works well on mild to moderate anxiety problems. Just make sure other people in the household are aware of this training method too, as everyone will need to agree to participate in it to help your dog.
Exercise Your Dog
Dogs who haven’t had enough exercise or mental stimulation throughout the day may be more likely to become anxious when left alone. If you have time before you need to leave, try exercising your dog with a nice, long walk or consider spending some time playing with or training them instead.
The more time you spend with your dog before you need to leave, the less likely they will be to show signs of anxiety when they’re alone. Although this method doesn’t work for every dog, it is a great starting point to help your pet.
Many dogs feel better when they think someone is nearby, even if no one is really there. You can achieve this by leaving a radio or television turned on at a quiet volume for your dog while they are left alone.
Additionally, dogs often respond well to the calming nature of white noise. Dogs may settle down more easily if they have a white noise sound to sleep to. You may also be able to find sounds of dog heartbeats specifically made to help soothe pets and encourage them to relax in stressful situations, such as being left at home by themselves.
In a worst-case scenario, your dog may need to be on anxiety medication to help with this problem. Veterinarians usually don’t prescribe anxiety medicine for dogs as a first option, but instead give it to dogs whose owners have tried everything else with no results.
Talk to your vet if you think medication is the only way to help your dog through their separation anxiety. Never give your pet any medication—for anxiety or otherwise—that is intended for humans without the express direction of a vet.
As you can see, there are several methods you can try to help your dog deal with their separation anxiety. Some dogs may be so severe with this problem that they need medical help, but most will be able to get through their anxiety with the right type of training and work from the family.
If you have any further questions or concerns about your dog’s wellbeing, be sure to talk to your vet. The vet can give you plenty of recommendations and ideas for treating or managing your dog’s anxiety. Call us today at (732) 671-3110.