The Secret To Relieving Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, try these tips and tricks to calm your pup’s nerves and prevent destructive behavior when you leave your home.
Meet Penny Lane, a sweet little dog who suffers from severe separation anxiety. Unable to handle Libby’s anxiety on their own, Pet Parents Jake and Libby call in Brandon McMillan for his dog training expertise. After consulting with Jake and Libby, Brandon agrees with the couple that a companion dog would be a good solution for Penny Lane’s anxiety. Luckily, Brandon already has the perfect dog in mind! Brandon brings Penny Lane to the Lucky Dog Ranch, where she is introduced to Pax. Watch how the new pair quickly bonds and Penny Lane’s anxiety fades away on this episode of “Lucky Dog.”
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According to Dog Training Expert Brandon McMillan, Penny Lane is not alone in her anxiety. In fact, it’s an issue that many dogs and their pet parents have to resolve. Sometimes, our dogs love us so much that they panic and feel anxious when we have to leave them alone at home. This typically results in your dog loudly crying, whining, or barking for an extended period of time, which many people learn about through the complaints of their neighbors. In addition, your pup may consistently exhibit destructive behaviors whenever you leave your home.
Luckily for Penny Lane, welcoming Pax into her family alleviated her anxiety surrounding being left alone at home. Pax is able to keep Penny company when their pet parents have to leave, and acts as a source of companionship and comfort. However, adding another dog into the mix will not be a practical solution for every family. A new pet requires identifying a pup with the right personality for your home and current fur baby, and may not be financially feasible. Therefore, we have some other tips and tricks to help you relieve your dog’s anxiety.
Consult with your veterinarian.
Many dogs developed separation anxiety due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Lots of pups became so used to their owners being home that it came as a shock to their routine when their pet parents started going out again. That said, if your dog has recently developed separation anxiety, your first step may be scheduling an exam with your veterinarian. Make sure your dog’s anxiety isn’t caused by an illness, injury, or hormone imbalance before you try to train him out of it. In addition, your vet can provide specific recommendations on how to help your dog, or can prescribe anxiety medication in extremely severe cases.
Practice being away from home.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you may need to get them used to your coming and going. Start by leaving for only a few minutes, and then slowly extend the time you are away from home as your dog becomes more comfortable. Don’t make a scene when you arrive or depart so your dog will learn that your coming and going isn’t actually a big deal.
In order to keep an eye on how your dog is doing while you’re not home, we recommend purchasing a nanny camera or pet camera to check in from time to time. This will give you an idea of how your dog is coping with your absence, and how he is behaving. This footage may also help you decide how fast to progress in your separation anxiety training.
Invest in doggie daycare.
If you and your dog are struggling with separation anxiety, consider investing in doggie daycare. Since you’ll be dropping off and picking up your dog every time, your pup will eventually see that you do always come back. Dog daycares are also a great way for pups of all ages to practice socialization and independence in a safe space. Lastly, daycare may be a good solution if your neighbors are complaining about your dog’s vocalization when you leave him alone. Your dog can’t bother anyone if he isn’t actually there!
Exercise your dog.
It’s often said that a tired dog is a happy dog! Depending on breed and age, your dog may need up to an hour of exercise each day to thrive. Just like in people, exercise releases endorphins in dogs that relieve anxiety and make them feel happy and relaxed. Therefore, taking fido for a long walk or engaging in an active game of fetch or tug-of-war may be a good idea before you have to leave. Ideally, your dog will be tuckered out and will rest peacefully until you return.
Leave your dog with fun distractions.
There is always a chance that your dog’s separation anxiety is exacerbated by the fact he is bored when you leave. Especially if you have a puppy or high energy dog, make sure to leave them with something fun to keep them busy. For example, your dog may enjoy puzzle toys, KONG toys that can be filled with delicious treats to snack on, and LickiMats. If you choose treat dispensing toys, make sure to pick healthy treats and modify meals as needed to keep your dog from gaining too much weight.
Create a safe space.
When you leave your dog alone, make sure he is in a safe space in your home. By safe space, we mean somewhere your dog feels comfortable, and can’t get into any trouble that could cause your pup to injure himself. Similarly, you may want to block off rooms with expensive or irreplaceable furniture if your dog’s separation anxiety manifests itself through home destruction.
Try calming aids.
There are several things you can try to naturally calm your dog’s separation anxiety. For example, try letting your dog listen to classical music when you have to leave. Similarly, leaving the TV on with a talk show or newscast playing might make it seem like people are still around so your dog feels less alone when you go out. In addition, many dogs thrive when they wear calming vests or are exposed to Adaptil, which is a safe and calming pheromone that mimics the smell of mother dogs.