5 Tips to Help Your Pup with Separation Anxiety in Charlotte

Shaggy terrier dog looking out window with sad expression

Have you recently adopted a new dog to be part of your family? Once you brought them home have you discovered some behaviors that might indicate that they are experiencing separation anxiety?

Your neighbors might start telling you that as soon as you leave your home your new pup barks, howls and whines the whole time. Perhaps you have noticed scratching at doors or windows or destructive chewing of furniture or objects in the home that are not intended to be dog toys.

Becoming part of a new home can be a very stressful time on a dog. Imagine if you have been put up for adoption one or more times and you can’t understand why the people around you don’t want to stay with you. Charlotte is a very dog-friendly place, and we have a lot of ideas for your new family member to feel more at home. These tips will help your new dog feel okay about being home alone for periods of time without suffering from separation anxiety.

Give Them a Den to Feel Comfortable In

Dogs feel comfortable when they have a den that they can call home. Giving your dog a crate is an in-home equivalent of that kind of home. Allow your pup time to get used to being in the crate while you are home. This way the crate doesn’t become an automatic signal that they are going to be left alone.

When you see your dog getting sleepy, encourage them to go into their crate and curl up for a nap. When they wake up they will see that you are still at home they start to feel comfortable that this new den is safe for them. When you put them in their crate when you are about to leave, do it with the same sort of actions, encouraging them to go into their den to get some rest.

Skip the Goodbye Routine

Just like humans, dogs can get caught up in routines, and they start to see the signs of your going away actions. They watch for things like: you getting dressed, brushing your teeth, grabbing your keys, putting on your coat and starting up your car. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety all of these things start to ratchet up their fear of being left alone and not knowing when or if you will be coming back.

Sometimes we even want to make them feel better and start to tell them goodbye and I’ll be back which become more audio clues to them that they are in for a period of separation. Help your pup by breaking up those routines so the pattern is not so obvious. Try taking your jacket out to the car, and then returning to them so they know you are coming back. Another idea is leaving out of a different door so they don’t attach the front door with fear. Most importantly, make your actions unimportant. Leaving should be just a normal part of the day instead of something to get anxious about.

Give Them Plenty of Exercise

Dogs can be a lot like kids. Go ahead and tire them out with exercise and they will be ready to take a nap instead of getting into something they should not be doing. Charlotte has so many options for you to choose when you want to spend quality time together. If you love to hike, take your new pup to the U.S. National Whitewater Center or  McDowell Nature Center and Preserve where they can join you on a 6 foot leash or shorter. If you are looking for a dog park option you can try Frazier Park which offers a fenced in 1.3 acres and even contains a sectioned off area for smaller dogs. Then if you are not too tired, you can stop by Canine Cafe for some special treats and a chance to meet new friends.

Get Extra Companionship With a Pet Sitter

If you are going to be gone for a long period of time, your dog will benefit from getting a visit to take them out for a walk. At Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking we can provide long walks as well as play time or cuddle time to make your pet less anxious.

We feel it’s important to get to know your dog personally and we do this with unlimited, free in-home consults. So when we come to pet sit, your pup is already familiar with us and will be looking forward to the social interactions.

Give Them a Smell of You

Dogs use their sense of smell to understand and process the world around them. They feel comfort when they smell your scent. So, if your dog has separation anxiety it may help them to have access to something that smells like you during your time away. Think about leaving them with your pajamas that you wore last night, or an undershirt that you wore the day before. Make sure it’s something that you are okay if they chew on, if their anxiety is severe.

As you and your new pup start your life together there will be a lot of things that you will learn about each other. You have the opportunity to help your new friend feel confident and relaxed in their new home. Please let us know if there are any questions you have about separation anxiety and how we can help either of you.

Anxious Cat? Giving Your Kitty a Calm and Happy Holiday Season

an anxious cat near a sack full of Christmas gifts

The holidays are a busy time full of new experiences. This can make for a stressful time for your kitty and, in turn, for you. Luckily, there are ways you can help your anxious cat remain calm and happy this holiday season. Let’s take a look at the important things in a cat’s life, and how you can maximize their comfort by understanding their point of view.

Sense of Smell

Your cat’s sense of smell is much more acute than humans’. In fact, they mark their scent on objects and people to help them feel safe and secure. This is also how they place boundaries on their space. When you are cleaning your house, try to leave your cat’s favorite area somewhat undisturbed so their natural pheromones will remain a comfort to them. Think about things like their tree, scratching posts, bedding, even their carrier. This way, when things get stressful for them, they will have a place to retreat to and feel calm and safe.

Sensitive Hearing

Your cat’s hearing is also better than a human’s. In fact, it’s approximately four times more sensitive than ours. Cats also hear higher frequencies than we can, but they have a harder time determining where sounds are coming from. This is why your kitty can be startled when we think we are using a normal tone of voice.

A nice quiet volume will help to keep your cat calm, whether it is a low soothing voice when you are petting them, or some soft music playing in the background. When the volume is up, like when you are having a party, provide a hideaway that can mute the sounds. This may mean placing towels or blankets over their bedding or carrier so they can block out some of the uncomfortable noise.

Importance of Routine

During the holidays it is important to keep up a routine to help your kitty feel relaxed and happy. Routines can include their wake up tactics, feeding schedule, nap times, getting brushed, having their favorite treats, and play times. Each of these events have a meaning and purpose to your cat, so maintaining these normal behaviors will help you keep their holidays happy.

Keep Essentials Convenient

You know your cat’s behavior better than anyone, so work with them to make things as stress-free as possible. For example, if you know that they run to the master bedroom when they get scared or nervous, you might expect that they will spend the entire day of the big party in there.

As you are cleaning, cooking, and getting ready for the big event, they know that something new is coming. Then the actual party itself will bring new challenges for them to face. Prepare this space with an easily accessible litter box, food, treats and toys to keep your kitty comfortable and able to control their environment.

Let Them Stay Home With Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking

We love our pets, and we want to include them in the important parts of our lives as well as the day-to-day living. However, sometimes we need to consider what would be best for our friends and make appropriate arrangements. If your cat hates any kind of car trip, perhaps it’s time to think about having your cat stay at home while you make your holiday trip.

Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking can help you out over the holidays in a number of ways. During our cat visits, we make sure to keep your kitty happy and cared for by providing fresh food, water, and litter box maintenance. We also get to know your kitty ahead of time with our free in-home consults, so we will be able to spend some quality time with their favorite type of play or special grooming time.

You’ll receive an online report card update about your cat while you’re away. We will also help you with mail retrieval, rotating blinds and lights and even watering plants. Your cat will be well taken care of while you are away for the holidays, and both of you will have time to enjoy the season. Instead of returning to an anxious cat, you’ll come home to a calm kitty!

We hope that you and your kitty have the happiest of holidays!

 

 

Entertaining Your Pets with Music & TV!

I’m sure that you or someone you know will turn on the radio or the TV when they are leaving a pet alone in the house.  I bet you’ve also wondered if this is really effective, or if we, as humans, do it because it gives us a little peace of mind.

But are our pets really entertained?

Image from Huffington Post

Research shows that it CAN be effective!

Music, depending on the genre, can help relieve stress and anxiety in pets.  Different types of music can garner different types of reactions.  Classical music, for example, can calm and relax your pet, whereas rock music may cause hyper or even aggressive behavior.  Playing some soft, calm music can help your pet rest, relax, and go to sleep.  Researchers also say that it’s best not to play music around the clock, just at strategic times during the day, like meal time, bed time, or when you know you will be leaving the house.  It becomes less effective if played 24/7. There are many apps you can download, for cats and dogs, that offer different types of music for different situations.

Image from National Geographic
Pets LOVE watching TV!

Having the TV on helps alleviate separation anxiety, improving your pet’s state of mind when they are home alone.  TV seems to be more effective with dogs than cats.  According to the Alpha Dog Blog, dogs prefer watching other dogs on TV.  They also respond positively to sounds of praise, happy human voices, and squeaking toys.  There is now a TV channel with 24/7 programming called DogTV!  And for our feline friends, there are interactive videos and DVDs for cats called “Meowvies” that can be found all over the internet!

Pet shelters have been using music and video to help calm and relieve anxiety in their furry residents.

The ASPCA has said in their blog recently that it has helped tremendously. The shelters play music for a couple of hours, and not every day.  And by doing that, and avoiding overexposure, they feel it has made the biggest impact.

Please keep in mind that while music and TV are great to use to help us take care of our pets, they should not be used as substitutes for other important activities, such as play time or cuddle time.

TV and music can be a wonderful addition to your pet’s healthy, well-balanced life!

Share with us!!

Have you tried this with your pet? Do you have a specific radio station or CD you play?  Does your pet react to a specific TV channel? Do they not react at all?  Have you had any negative experiences with music or video in regards to your pet?  Let us know, we want to hear from you!

References:
The Alpha Dog Blog, NY Times Blog, Huffington Post,
thebark.com, petspyjamas.com, aspcapro.org