Last week we talked about what separation anxiety is and how dogs exhibit signs of separation anxiety. Today I want to talk about how dog Mom’s and Dad’s can help their pup if she or he has separation anxiety. There are training techniques out there to help your dog deal with his anxiety and fear when you are gone. It may be difficult, and can take a while, but training is always advised before turning to medications for your dog.
One way to help solve the problem of separation anxiety is keeping your dog in a confined area when you area away. This can be as simple as buying a crate for your dog to stay in anytime you leave the house. This is best used when you are leaving home for a short period of time. If a crate is not available or your dog does not react well to being crated, then try limiting the dog’s access to one room in the home while you are away. Make sure this room does not have any easily accessible items to destroy and take an effort to make the room and/or the crate as comfortable as you can for the dog. Do not make the room or crate punishment, but a safe place for your dog to spend time. Put blankets, beds and your dog’s favorite toys in the room to surround him with his favorite things. When leaving the room, do not make a big deal of it but just casually leave. To get your pup used to the room and/or crate, leave him alone for a few minutes in the beginning, and return with praise and treats. Continue doing this method, leaving him alone for longer time periods until he is comfortable for several hours at a time. Soon the crate or room will become a safe and happy place for your pup while you are away. If you are gone for long periods of time, it’s good to have someone check in on your dog and let them go outside to go to the bathroom. Pet sitters are great for this!
Exercise is always a great way to relieve stress in an anxious dog. Before you leave the home, take your pup for a long walk or run, depending on his or her fitness level. Not only does this help your pup blow off steam, but it also makes him or her too tired to act out when you are gone.
Leaving your dog with interactive toys is also a good way to keep him busy, get some exercise for stress release and deter his attention from his anxiety. Chew toys, bones and treat dispensing toys are great activities for a dog with separation anxiety to get rid of some stress without destroying your home.
If the separation anxiety symptoms still persist, or if the case is severe, consult your veterinarian. They may find it is necessary to medicate your dog to relieve his or her symptoms.
Remember to be patient and never punish your dog for acting out when they are fearful. Instead, try to find ways to calm your dog and help him or her feel safe while you are away.