Don’t Freak Out!

Tips for Overcoming Separation Anxiety

pet-anxietyWhen an owner leaves the home, or sometimes even just a room, dogs can become extremely stressed out. This can include symptoms such as barking, whining, excessive salivation, scratching at walls, destroying stuff or even attempting an escape from the room or crate. Have you ever wondered why this happens? This is what is known as separation anxiety, and we hope the below tips can help you and your furry buddy!

  • Rule out any underlying medical issues
  • Consider anti-anxiety medication for your pet
  • Talking to your vet to see if they recommend any particular behavioural treatment
  • Try a Thundershirt
  • Some dogs feel safer and calmer in smaller spaces, try crate training
  • Associate your dog being alone with something positive each time you leave (a treat, toy, etc.)
  • Provide your pet with lots of physical and mental stimulation. Examples include:
    • Walks
    • Treat puzzles or other puzzle toys
    • Hide & Seek (have someone hold your dog while you go and hide in the house. When you’re ready – whistle or make a noise to have your dog come find you)
    • Use an empty egg carton to put treats in. Then place toys over the sections you’ve placed a treat. Get your dog to find the treats.
    • At meal time, throw handfuls of their dog food in the yard and have them search for it
  • Prepare your pet for departure by showing that when you grab your keys or coat, it doesn’t always mean you’re leaving. Do something else instead of leaving the room.
  • Take small steps by introducing short periods of separation that don’t produce anxiety, and then gradually increase time spent apart over the course of time.
  • Teach your dog to stay quiet and settle for increasing periods of time – and reward after.
  • When you are out with your dog, learn to not interact with them constantly – let them entertain themselves with toys
  • All greetings should be conducted in a very calm manner. When saying hello or goodbye, just give your dog a pat on the head. If you’re returning, make sure you don’t give them too much attention until they’ve calmed down.
  • Do not scold or punish your dog if he doesn’t overcome this fear quickly. This could cause the problem to get worse. Be patient and work with your pet.