We all miss our pets when we’re away, but sometimes our pets miss us a little too much. Separation anxiety is a common disorder, especially among dogs, affecting 20 to 40 percent of pups taken to visit veterinary behavior specialist.
Separation anxiety is more than just occasional crying at the door for a bit when you leave. It’s much more extreme and occurs every time your pooch is left alone. Symptoms include:
• Excessive whining, howling or barking
• Destructive chewing or scratching
• Intense pacing
• Bathroom accidents
• Attempts to escape
Separation anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, including past trauma or changes in their routine, and some breeds are more prone to it than others. Luckily, there are proactive steps pet parents can take to ease their dog’s anxiety.
1. Don’t make goodbyes a big deal.
Instead of giving your pup a bunch of extra attention before you head out, ignore them. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it’s actually communicating that your time apart isn’t a big deal.
2. Provide sources of comfort.
Before you leave, give your dog a special treat or toy. That way, he starts to associate the experience with positive feelings.
You can also provide comforting scents and sounds by giving your dog a shirt that smells like you to cuddle with or turning on an audio-book or white noise machine.
3. Start with baby steps.
Just like any other training, practice makes perfect. Start by leaving your dog alone for short periods of time (5 minutes) and then working your way up in small increments.
4. Go for a walk.
Just like exercise is good for our mental health, it’s also good for our pets’. Ensure your dog is getting enough physical activity by starting the day with a brisk walk before you head to work.
5. Talk to your veterinarian.
If your dog’s negative behaviors persist, consult your veterinarian about other steps you can take. They may recommend over-the-counter treatments, prescriptions or other training ideas.
Source: Pet Business