You get up off of the couch to walk to the kitchen for a glass of water. Your dog follows you. You go into the bathroom to shower and soon hear the familiar scratch-scratch of his paws at the door. When it’s time to leave for work in the morning, your pup starts frantically barking and trying to stand between you and the doorway. While you’re gone, he might make a mess, chew up furniture or try to find a way out.
There’s a difference between a dog who’s devoted to you and a dog who’s dealing with separation anxiety. When a pet has separation anxiety, he becomes very upset when separated from you, his owner. Dogs with the condition often display unwanted behavior, such as going to the bathroom on the floor, barking loudly or chewing objects. In some cases, an anxious dog can hurt himself in his attempts to get out of the house and find you.
One way to know if your dog has separation anxiety, and not another medical issue, is to look at when the problems occur. If your dog never goes indoors when you’re around, it’s likely that his accidents at triggered by your absence. The same is true for a dog who usually doesn’t bark or never chews up furniture, except when left home alone.
“The same is true for a dog who usually doesn’t bark or never chews up furniture, except when left home alone.”
What to Do to Help Your Dog. One way to help your anxious dog is to take the drama out of your leaving and returning. It can be difficult to do, at least at first, because you want to kiss and love up on your dog when you say good-bye. But for the sake of his peace of mind, it’s important to be as nonchalant about leaving the house as possible. Think of it as peeling off a bandage. It’s less painful to do it quickly than to drag out the process.
Distracting your dog can also help if he has a mild case of separation anxiety. Give him a treat or toy to play with a few minutes before you head out. You can also take your dog for a walk in the mornings before you leave or play a quick game of fetch in the yard. Your dog will get the exercise he needs and might be too tired out to stress out so much about your departure.
If you’re out of the house on a fairly regular basis, it might be worth it to send your dog to a daycare facility. Your dog will get to meet others and have a chance to play in a supervised setting. A regular pet-sitter or dog walker can also help keep a stressed out dog calm.
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Has your dog experienced separation anxiety? Please share your story and solution below!