If you don’t prepare your anxious dog for longer days alone at home, you might experience a variety of “behavioral problems” due to them trying to cope with the stress of your absence.
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Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
If you already have an anxious pup, and you are struggling with any of the below behaviors, it is time to help them reduce their separation anxiety:
- Your dog engages in destructive behavior in the house when you are gone.
- He barks, whines or howls even after you have left.
- Your dog paces excessively throughout the house.
- Urinating or defecating indoors.
1. Get Your Dog Used to a Routine
A sample routine could be: wake up, feed breakfast, go out for walk, some snuggles, get ready to leave the house, dog walker comes midday to take your dog out, you return to feed dinner, your dog is taken out one last time before bedtime, bedtime snuggles.
Consider that a routine does not require exact times, instead the order of events is what’s important. For example, decide if your dog gets fed first or taken out first and stick to that sequence.
2. Practice Leaving the House
If you are unsure how Fido is doing when you are out, get a pet cam to check in on his activity when home alone. You might even realize that once gone, your dog stops behaving in a stressed manner and actually settles down for a nap, or to chew one of their favorite toys. It can give you a peace of mind.
3. Don’t let Fido Feed off Your Stress
As our dog’s companion and leader of the pack, we also have a role in their anxiety based on the message we send to our pets. If you are anxious and stressed over leaving the house (this might be a big change for you as well), it’s possible to inadvertently signal to your dog that this new routine is scary and dangerous.
4. Make Leaving and Returning a Positive Experience
If your dog has separation anxiety, practice on changing the experience of your departure by leaving the house happy and excited. Think about that happy energetic energy you bring upon returning home and act the same way when you are leaving.
Treats can be a helpful tool for food motivated dogs, but overall your body language and tone of voice is the most important part of teaching your dog that leaving is not scary.
5. Hire a Dog Walker
Have your dog walker start a few weeks before going back to work to ensure the relationship is working and that your dog is used to the new routine. That way transitioning out of the house during the day will feel less dramatic of a change when you know the dog walker will be there a few hours later.
Schedule a free consultation with Chicago Urban Pets.
Take it Slowly
If you have a dog with separation anxiety, it is worth investing time in getting them used to a new schedule. Create a consistent routine, practice leaving the house for periods of time and hire a dog walker who can help you make your dog feel happy and safe when you are at work.