How to Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety in Bowling Green, KY
Much like humans, dogs can become clingy and develop separation anxiety. Some people think it’s cute, others think it’s annoying, and most people feel bad for their pooch. How, then, can you help your dog with his/her anxiety when the time comes for you to leave and go somewhere?
Below, we’ll go over some key steps to preventing dog separation anxiety in Bowling Green, KY.
What Is Dog Separation Anxiety?
First, what is separation anxiety and what are the things to look out for? Separation anxiety in dogs is defined as an over-attachment or dependency on family members, especially the ones who the dog has a strong affinity toward a certain person (for example, a dog that loves everyone and misses the family when any combination of them are gone, but waits at the door or window and whines for someone when they leave).
Signs of Separation Anxiety Your Dog May Show
Dogs can become anxious and show distress signals by becoming destructive, vocalizing, going to the bathroom in the home (remember that this soiling is due to anxiety, not “revenge” for you leaving, so don’t scold the dog, even though you may be tempted to.
In fact, scolding a dog for being anxious will make him/her more anxious when you return. You wouldn’t like it if someone was scolding you for being nervous either, right?), refusing to eat, salivate or pant constantly, become withdrawn, and more. They may even not do anything, but watch you sadly as you prepare to leave.
When Do Dogs Start Showing Signs of Separation Anxiety?
Most dogs show separation anxiety even well before the owner/owners leave. Signs of this are your dog following you from room to room and beginning to show signs of anxiety when they can tell you’re about to leave.
More often than not, these signs start within twenty minutes of you leaving. Typically, this happens every time you leave the house, but it can also happen only on days you work or when you leave the house again after work.
Ways to Calm Your Dog Before You Leave in Bowling Green, KY
If you can, the best thing is to slowly get your dog accustomed to your schedule. If I was a dog and my owner was gone for four hours a day for five days (assuming you’d go home to at least let Fido/Frieda out during your lunch hour), I’d freak out, too.
Therefore, buying or adopting a dog, then resuming your life as though everything is still normal isn’t the best thing you can do for your new friend. Remember, this is normal for you. It’s not for a new puppy or dog.
Tire Your Dog Out Before You Go
Start by tiring your pooch out well before you leave. Playing will not only result in a decreased energy level (your dog may even fall asleep after you leave. Bonus!), but give Fido/Frieda that one-on-one time they love so much (hopefully, you love it, too).
When it’s about 15-30 minutes before you leave, stop playing and ignore your dog. Put your dog in their crate away from your sight and earshot, tell them to go lay down in a designated spot (a trainer can help you learn how to train them to do this) away from you, and get ready to leave.
When leaving, don’t make a big issue about saying goodbye. This can heighten your dog’s anxiety. Though you may be tempted, it’s best if you just leave.
Gradually Increase the Amount of Time Your Gone
Continue this by leaving the house for about 20-30 minutes. After a few days, increase this to go do a few quick errands. A few days after that, increase again and so on and so forth until you can be gone for a few hours a day (again, most dogs want to go to the bathroom and/or get outside and stretch their legs, so if you can, go home during your lunch break; if not, perhaps you can have someone else do it).
Dogs and TV Do Well Together
Another thing you can do to help your best furry friend is to leave music or the television on. There are many music channels on a lot of TV packages these days and, whether it’s Animal Planet, soothing music, or something else, leaving noise for your dog is a way to help him/her feel less alone when they’re alone.
For Crate-trained Dogs…
If your dog has to stay in a crate and can’t wander around the house (or they can, but you’re uncomfortable for whatever reason with this scenario) while you’re gone, consider leaving them with something that has your scent and/or a toy or two. A Kong with frozen peanut butter in it will keep them focused on that, not the fact that you’re gone and they couldn’t go with.
Some dogs, however, actually do best when left to move around the home whenever they like. These dogs may have an issue with barriers and leaving them in a crate or specific room when you leave does more harm than good (they may try to fight their way out, hurting themselves in the process). Find out what works best for you and your dog!
Other Ways to Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety in Bowling Green, KY
If you’re able, you can treat every day as “Take Your Child to Work Day” and bring your dog with you. This isn’t feasible in many cases, but if you can, you and your dog will both love it!
If it’s not possible to take a lunch hour from work or take your furry friend there, hire someone to come and let the dog out and maybe even walk him/her. It may not be the same thing to your dog, but hey, it’s still human companionship.
Besides, on a regular basis, your dog might even look forward to seeing the dog walker almost every day (“Oh, Mom’s working again today…too bad. Hey! This means I get to see Jasmine and walk with her today! Hooray!”).
You can also take your dog to a boarding facility for day play. Not only will your dog get to make lots of human friends this way, but lots of dog pals, too.
Keeping Your Dog Calm While You’re Gone Takes Time
No matter what the game plan is, just like you didn’t make a big fuss about leaving your home for the day or a few hours, it’s equally important that you don’t make a show about coming home either. Calmly put your things down, get out of your “work clothes” and into other clothes or maybe even pajamas, take your makeup off if you’re wearing any, and/or start your dinner.
When your dog comes up to you for a pet hello, then it’s okay to give attention. Again, don’t get excited, even if you’re tempted. A simple “How was your day, Fido?” or “Hi, Frieda. Mommy’s home” with a pat or scratch in your dog’s favorite spot will do the trick just fine.
You and your dog will have a much calmer, happier relationship when it’s not riddled with anxiety and will result in a happier life for both of you. Congrats on creating a calm, non-anxious dog!
About Southcentral Veterinary Services
Southcentral Veterinary Services is here to ensure that you and your pet can access a variety of high-quality, progressive medical services. Our aim is to serve our patients and clients with integrity, compassion, and a focus on being your primary family vet.