Many dogs are perfectly content to be left alone while their owner leaves the house. Yet a good deal of canines experience what’s known as separation anxiety. This condition can manifest itself in a variety of ways including incessant barking, urinating or defecating in the house or exhibiting destructive behaviour like chewing or scratching anything they can get their little paws on. More importantly, separation anxiety is stressful and upsetting to both you and your pet. The good news is there are a number of ways you can help your dog overcome this issue and become happier and much more balanced.
First and foremost, make sure what you’re dealing with is, in fact, separation anxiety. If every time you return from an outing you find yourself having to clean up urine or feces, examine whether or not your dog was completely and properly housetrained. You may need to work a little harder with him in that area. You should also discuss the issues you’re having with your vet and have your dog examined to rule out any possible underlying medical problems.
Once you determine that separation anxiety is the problem, it’s time to get to work. The most important thing to remember is that overcoming this condition takes a lot of time and patience. As frustrating as it may be, your unconditional love, support and consistency is what your dog needs to get on track to better mental health and stability. Start by implementing these strategies:
- Keep your exit and entry from the house as low key as possible. When leaving, give your dog a gentle pat on the head, calmly say goodbye and go. When you return, calmly say hello then go about your routine. Once he has calmed down and is in a more relaxed state, then you can give him some more attention and spend some time with him.
- If possible, work your way up to longer periods of absence from your dog. Start by just leaving him alone for 30 minutes and see how he does. Once he’s comfortable being left alone for that amount of time, slowly increase it by small intervals.
- Be sure your dog is getting enough exercise. Mental and physical stimulation can work wonders on behavior issues, including anxiety. Exercising your dog will help reduce her stress level and give her an outlet to release pent up energy.
- Reward, reward, reward. Consider giving your dog a treat or a special chew toy when you’re leaving to make the experience a more positive one. If your dog is busy he may not even notice you leaving and will likely experience much less anxiety over the event.
If all else fails and your dog is still struggling with being left alone, give us a call. Our staff is trained to help determine the cause of such disorders as separation anxiety and obsessive behavior, and we can develop a treatment regimen that suits your lifestyle. We’ll help you find the right way to get your dog back to his happy, balanced self in no time.