With the arrival of fall, schedules are going to change both for you and your dog. The kids are back to school and there are no more summer vacations, which means your dog may be alone more during the day. For some dogs, this just means more time to lay around the couch and enjoy the quiet. For others however, it can create a type of separation anxiety that can become a serious problem if ignored.
How It Looks
Separation anxiety for dogs has nothing to do with a lack of house training or weak discipline. It’s often an issue for dogs who are used to having people around the house with them or have recently suffered an experience where they were nervous in unfamiliar surroundings. Dogs are pack animals and if they are separated from their “pack leader” for an extended period of time, it can be traumatic for them.
Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety when they are home alone may tear up furniture, go to the bathroom inside the house, pace along the same spot over and over, bark continuously or make escape attempts that could possible injure them.
Keep Them Busy
As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, a tired dog is a happy dog. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and play time when you are home. A trip to a leash-free dog park so they can run around with their canine pals, a healthy game of tug-of-war with a dog-safe rope, or just a brisk walk over varied routes around your home will help keep them happy and relaxed when they are alone later.
You can also give them some tasks to do when they are home alone. Leave bits of dry dog food hidden around the house for them to look for when they are bored. As well, rubber toys like Kongs can be stuffed with low sodium peanut butter which will give them a tasty treat to work on throughout the day.
You Say Goodbye…
One of the biggest triggers for your pup’s separation anxiety could be the way you handle your departure. If you make a big deal about leaving by showering your pup lots of love and attention and getting them all worked up before quickly dashing out the door, they will consider your absence as a more significant event.
When you leave, just give your pup a quick head scratch and soothingly repeat a consistent phrase each time like “I’ll be back soon.” Even though they will not understand exactly what you are saying, they will infer from your tone that your leaving is not a big deal.
…And I Say Hello
The need for a low-key approach when you first come home will also help with your pup’s anxiety. As you know, dogs love to go crazy when you first come home, acting like they haven’t seen you in years. If you come home and immediately lavish attention on them, they will give your arrival more significance than necessary.
Instead of letting them excitedly jump all over you when you come home, train them to first relax before you will give them any attention. Ignoring them until they stop jumping and barking, or getting them to lie on their bed before you will say hello can help alleviate the drama of the initial separation.
Consider Daytime Alternatives
Whether you have a pup who is suffering from separation anxiety or just needs more fun and exercise during the day, we are here to help. Dogtopia offers safe and reliable daycare services, treating your pup to a fun-filled day that will leave them happy and tired when you pick them up. Learn more about our dog daycare services, or contact us for more information.